MIAMI - Americans spend about seven billion dollars per year on cosmetics. They shell out more than ten billion dollars on cosmetic surgery and other procedures, but some of the most common beauty-boosting regimens could also be the most dangerous.
We apply, spray, inject, glue, and even rip, all in the name of looking good! But your beauty routine may be dangerous, even deadly. Nancye Swanson picked up Hepatitis B from a pedicure. The serious liver infection turned her skin yellow and made her gravely ill.
"My liver was shutting down," says Hepatitis B patient Nancye Swanson.
Stacy Chimento, MD, a dermatologist in south Florida, says other infections like staph and MRSA can spread during a visit to the salon.
"A lot of times, you have some of these various bacteria that grow within the actual pedicure bowls," explained Chimento.
Those bacteria can enter the body through openings in the skin. Chimento says never have a pedicure if you have cracked heels or an open wound, bring your own instruments, and ask about how your salon sanitizes.
"Our nail tech, he sterilizes all his tools that he works with," said Dorothy Haar from Starbutts Tanning, Nail, and Wax Salon.
Spray tans are a popular beauty trend, but new research shows they may not be all that safe. Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania exposed live cells to DHA, the key ingredient in spray tans. They found the chemical caused genetic changes in the cells.
"So, we're still not exactly sure how this affects the human body," said Chimento.
Wear protective eye wear, lip balm, and nose plugs so the chemical does not get inhaled or ingested.
Haar adds, "I also use the little nose plugs to put inside my ears."
Artificial eyelashes are another potential beauty hazard. Carola Parmejano applied them at least once a week for six years!
"For me, it became an addiction because it looks so good on camera; it looks so good on pictures that I said I cannot live without it," admitted Parmejano.
But the lashes caused a bad infection in her eye, which is still irritating.
"My eyes were just totally red," said Parmejano.
Applying the glue too often can also rip out your own lashes and cause permanent hair loss. Waxing can also be a danger if the wax is too hot. Chimento said it can result in burns, permanent scarring and discoloration.
Double-dipping the stick can spread bacteria in the pot and cause infection. Never wax if you have a cut or open sore. Laser hair removal is a popular treatment, but the numbing cream can be a danger.
"It can sometimes cause some particular side effects that can be deadly," explained Chimento.
A couple of years ago, two women who applied the cream and wrapped their legs with plastic to enhance the effects died. Chimento says only apply the cream under doctor supervision, use as little as possible, and only apply it to small areas.
If you're looking for another reason to ditch the salon, listen to this: if a woman invested the average amount of money she spends on a monthly manicure and pedicure treatment into her retirement account every year for ten years, she would have almost $10,000 saved!
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