8 Beauty Regimens that Can Leave You Looking Not so Pretty

Waxing, hair straightening, lash extensions, gel nails...what you do to get glam can actually be beauty and health hazards

Let’s face it: Between skincare, hair, nails and everything in between, getting gorgeous isn’t easy. But when a new facial makes you break out or a bikini wax leaves you with a very unsexy infection, it may be time to find a different approach. Experts say these common beauty regimens can backfire:

Bikini wax backfire

Painful enough when done correctly, bikini waxes can cause bigger problems if the technician is inexperienced or lax. The waxer should also use brand-new spatulas for each swipe to your skin and should never double dip, which can cause infections, says Susan Stuart, MD, a San Diego, CA, board certified dermatologist. “To prevent burns, she should check the wax's temperature on the inside of her wrist before applying it to your skin. If you don't see the practitioner taking these steps, speak up.”

Also consider sugaring, which is a gentler, natural alternative to waxing.

Hair extension nightmare

Hair extensions that attach to the scalp or existing hair can be done as a weave to your natural hair or glued on. They do not usually cause damage, but in some cases, when a weave is too tight it can cause hair to fall out due to “traction alopecia.” In other cases damage can occur during the removal process, although that’s less likely, says Stuart. “Extensions previously had to be cut out, leaving stubbles of hair. Nearly all modern bonding methods crystallize and dissolve easily in combination with a specially formulated solvent, which allows for convenient, safe and painless removal.” Seek out a reputable salon staffed by trained professionals when shopping for hair extensions.

Face bleaching fiasco

Lightening dark spots on the skin may be done by chemical peels, lasers or by the use of topical bleaching agents such as hydroquinones. Peels create superficial wounds, which reveal new and improved skin once the damage heals. When done improperly or too aggressively, scarring and infection can result. “The safest treatments include the use of hydroquinones, which can gradually lighten the skin and reduce areas of deeper pigmentation called hyper-pigmentation,” says Stuart. Ask your dermatologist for an evaluation and recommendations based on your skin before you start any treatment.

Not-so-lush lash extensions

In a quest for Nicki Minaj lashes-without-apologies, eyelash extensions seem like a dream come true. Single synthetic fibers are glued on one by one to your natural eyelashes and held in place by adhesives or glue. The problem comes in if you develop an allergic reaction to the adhesive or the solvent used to remove the lashes, according to Consumer Reports -- not to mention the risk of bacterial and fungal infection. Repeated use of eyelash extensions can also result in loss of natural eyelashes. “A more permanent option is the use of Latisse which can make lashes fuller,” says Stuart. Or stick with a good mascara.

Pigment-changing lash serums

Even if you skip the eyelash extensions, be aware that lash-growing serums can change the pigment in the skin around your eyes, says Jonathan Kaplan, MD, board-certified plastic surgeon and founder of BuildMyBod.com, New Orleans, LA. “Skin darkening from Latisse (a brand name serum that darkens, lengthens and thickens lashes) may be from up-regulation of pigment producing cells (more pigment, darker skin).” The precursor to Latisse, Lumigan, was originally used for glaucoma and caused some patients blue eyes to turn brown, due to the same reaction (no reports of this reaction have been reported with lash serums). Fortunately, the skin darkening resolves after you quit using the serum.

Straighten up and fall out

When it comes to hair types, we often want what we don’t have. Curly-haired women desire straight, sleek hair and go to great lengths to get it, which can backfire. For a while, many chemical hair straighteners were using formaldehyde (embalming fluid) to do the trick, which turned out to be carcinogenic, says Jessica Krant, MD, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center and founder of ArtOfDermatology.com. “Newer formaldehyde-free products on the market are safer and gentler but also don’t work as well.” Avoid chemicals altogether and opt for flat ironing, or find a flattering hairstyle that works for your beautiful curly hair!

Nail nasties

Artificial nails, which include acrylic formulations and UV gel nails, may look glamorous but can cause your natural nails to weaken and make you susceptible to fungi, yeast or bacterial infections. “Both types of nails contain chemicals that are common allergens,” says Krant. Over time they can cause chronic irritation and, eventually, poor nail growth. They also may make it more likely that moisture, dirt, and germs will get trapped beneath your natural nail or between your nail and the artificial nail, increasing the risk of infection. In addition, frequent manicures with UV lights used for ‘curing’ gel nails may actually lead to skin cancer on the fingers because it’s like a mini tanning bed for your nails, says Krant. Stay safe with natural, healthy nails.

Botox precautions

If you’re thinking of trying Botox to diminish frown lines and wrinkles, keep a few things in mind, says Roy David, MD, certified plastic surgeon and founder of the Aesthetic Center of La Jolla, CA.

Bruising can occur, especially around the eyes. So avoid aspirin for at least one week, avoid alcohol for two days before and one day after. Also, keep in mind Botox works on “dynamic” wrinkles, those that deepen due to facial expressions. “If the line is deep even when your face is completely at rest- the improvement from Botox will be limited or none at all,” says David. In rare cases Botox may cause ptosis, a temporary droopiness of the eyelid from Botox drifting from the injection site to the muscle that lifts the upper eyelid. Reduce this risk by only going to an experienced dermatologist or plastic surgeon.

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