Beauty Trends Pose Health Risks

By Salenna Weiner ‘18

Beauty trends have taken over many social media platforms but many people are unaware of the dangers that come with them.

A trend is a certain new style that gains a fast amount of interest. A trend could last for a few weeks or well over a year.

It is important to remember that some trends are fun and harmless while others, though they may look appealing, can actually do more harm than good.

One short-lived trend was contouring with sharp objects. Contour is a part of makeup where one uses a shade darker than their skin tone to define facial structures, one dominant one being cheekbones. Another absurd thing that became a fad over the summer was “body contouring” where one would contour their whole figure including body parts such as legs, arms, chest, etc. To achieve “the perfect contour” on your face, one aims to smudge a straight line, with makeup, along their cheekbone as well as the sides of their nose. A popular instagram personality posted a video where he contoured using a knife. Since the knife has a straight edge, he used it to guide his contour brush along his cheekbones. This led to other people trying it aswell. There are no reports of people getting hurt while doing this but nonetheless, it is a dangerous thing to do. Using a pencil or a ruler to guide your contour would give you the exact same effect without having to take the risk of hurting yourself.

A more popular trend that has been around longer, and is especially persistent with black women and teens, is weaves and braids. Grace Laurenceau ‘18 is one of the many students who follows this trend.

“I usually get my weave done every two months,” she said. “It’s kind of uncomfortable because the braids are braided tightly, however I bear it because I know I will be satisfied with the outcome.”

African American women enjoy having weaves because they simplify things. Some women want more variety with their hair, and they feel like manipulating it once a week not only harms it, but is a huge time waster. Weaves save time and they eliminate the stress of not having the exact hair you want.

“I like getting braids and weaves because I like how they look on me,” said Darrelle Gabriel ‘20 who has been getting them done for years now.

She claims she has gotten used to the pain, and it only hurts while she’s getting them done. But a lot of people complain about the pain that comes while getting a weave and what follows.

“Honestly the pain was so excruciating. After I got [the weave] done, I couldn’t put my head on the pillow without feeling pain,” Laurenceau said.  

She slept on her forearm so she wouldn’t have any sharp pains that would prevent her from sleeping.

“Massaging helps,” she noted. “Along with moisturizer.”

Getting a weave involves constant tugging at the root, which many consider painful, and can cause severe damage. One of the leading causes of hair loss in African Americans is central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia (CCCA), a type of hair loss caused by these braids. The weaves used to make braids are extremely tight causing the alopecia, or balding. The alopecia centers on the crown of the scalp and spreads across the surface. Laurenceau knew this information before getting her weave done.

“I take a break for at least three to five weeks in between weaves,” she stated.

Taking proper care of her hair and breaks in between weaves, Laurenceau lessens the risk of developing alopecia.

Gabriel, on the other hand, after getting a weave done multiple times, didn’t know about CCCA because she claims she never experienced any signs of hair loss. Upon discovering this new information though, she will get her weave done fewer times and will wear it for shorter periods.

“[I’ll] wear my natural hair because I need to give it a break,” she added.

Something else that has become popular recently are gel manicures. When having a gel manicure, a UV lamp is involved to dry the polish; the lamp releases UV rays that raise the risk of cancer. Studies have also confirmed that the light permanently ages your hands possibly leaving wrinkles and dark spots on the back of it. They recommend that it is best to not get gel manicures. Some brands though offer regular nail polish with very similar results as a gel manicure without the harmful effects of a UV lamp. They are inexpensive and can be considered a second option.

Another popular trend that has recently taken off is hair dyeing. Celebrities like Kylie Jenner played a big role in the idea of dying your hair a color like red, blue, or green. Safia Skeffers ‘18 said that people like to color their hair to match the season; she herself has recently participated in this trend for the first time.  

“I decided to dye my hair [red] because I wanted to try something new,” Skeffers stated.

Many people are bored with their natural hair color and want something new and different. What many people don’t know is that before 1970, hair dye products used to contain chemicals that caused cancer in animals and upon realising this information, manufacturers changed the components of it. However, it is still unknown if all the cancer causing chemicals were taken out. Researches tried to find any connection between contact with hair dye and an increased risk of cancer in a person. According to cancer.org and cancer.gov, some studies show clear links between the two while others have shown none. Since the result is still vague and unknown, many people like Skeffers are unaware of the risk they take.

Aside from the possible risk of cancer, hair dye itself can intensely damage your hair. The ammonia found in hair dye lifts your cuticles, which naturally should never take place, allowing the peroxide in it to break down your natural hair color, destroying your hair with it. It also heavily dries your hair furthering the damage to it.

“I wanted to try something new, knowing the risks,” Skeffers said, fully aware of the hazard. She explained that the chance of permanently damaging her hair is not a hundred percent and she believes that if she takes the precautionary steps and doesn’t dye her hair frequently, she’ll be fine.

If you want to dye your hair without the harmful chemicals in modern hair dyes, many people, as well as doctors, suggest henna. Henna is a type of plant used to draw designs on skin and nails but can also be used a natural hair dye. Pure henna always dyes hair red but depending on one’s hair color, results could be brighter or darker. Not only is henna safe to use, but it actually benefits your hair and scalp making it healthier and smoother; it also makes your hair grow faster.

Skeffers had never heard of henna before but after learning about it, she said she’d consider using it if it protects her hair but also gives her the result she is looking for.

Not all trends are fun and harmless, some could have damaging effects that are irreversible. The wisest thing to do before hopping on a trend bandwagon is to look into the trend more online and maybe ask people who have done it about their experience.

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