Modern make-up is a breeding ground for bacteria and other nasties that do our delicate skin no good. And other beauty procedures, such as waxing and tanning, also pose significant health risks if not conducted safely and sensibly.
Bacteria adore eye shadow, mascara and eyeliner, particularly if youve been using it for years and even more so if you share it with your friends.
A study in the UK found that a quarter of women shared their eye make-up, even though many of them suffered from highly contagious infections, such as conjunctivitis, and were using products that were over five years old.
If you regularly suffer from itchy, watery or red eyes, check the use-by date on your favourite mascara. Throw away any eye make-up thats at least a year old, and replace mascara every six months. Replacing applicators is just as important. Using an old applicator with a new product will contaminate it.
Dont use your friends products; buy each other new ones as birthday or holiday gifts rather than risk sharing more than just a good night out. Always remove eye make-up before going to bed and dont put it near your eyes when testing a new product in a shop; use your hand instead.
If youre a contact lens user, these good practices are doubly important, as is washing your hands between applying make-up and putting in or taking out your contact lenses.
Pedicures & In-Salon Treatments
If you can afford treatments at a clinic in Harley Street, or high end beauty salon treatment, I think it is quite safe to say you will not see adverse effects from your beauty treatment, But if like most of us you use high street salons, it pays to be caustious.
Another potential source of infection is the pedicure. Poor sanitary procedures and the foot spas used in nail salons can transmit germs and fungal infections. Over one hundred women were infected at a US nail salon that didnt adequately clean its foot spas. Boils affected the womens lower legs and many were left with scars, especially those who had shaved their legs before going for their pedicure.
Before you book your pedicure, ask about safety practices and disinfection at your chosen salon. Ask whether they have movable foot spas rather than ones connected to chairs, as the movable type is easier to clean. Postpone your appointment if you have a cut, lesion or insect bite on your lower leg as broken skin will increase your risk of infection. Dont shave your legs the day before you go; the tiny abrasions caused by shaving can also allow bacteria to get into your skin.
The US state of New Jersey is working on banning genital waxing after two women were injured during a Brazilian. They both ended up in hospital. The problem occurs when the wax is ripped off the very thin and sensitive genital skin. The skin can be damaged and become infected and the infection spreads quickly. Women may be too embarrassed to go to the doctor, prolonging the problem. The danger is particularly acute for women with diabetes who have poor circulation, increasing their risk of serious infection.
If you really do want a Brazilian, get a professional with good hygiene standards to do it. Trying to do it at home will not only lead to poor results, but will greatly increase the risk of your injuring or burning yourself.
When you go to asalon, make sure the person waxing you uses gloves and fresh wax that hasnt be used on someone else. Dont get a wax during or near your period as the skin around your genitals will be even more sensitive to bruising and damage. Ask for natural waxing products to reduce the risk of irritation. And stay away from the salon completely if you have any kind of skin damage, irritation or infection, or youre taking drugs for acne.
Sunbathing and Tanning
The classic holiday brochure photo of bronzed families lolling by a pool belies the very real risk of sun cancer from too much summer holiday beach time. Its far healthier to use the winter months to perfect your fake tan, and then use it throughout the summer to look good and stay safe.
If you must lie in the sun, dont do it in the middle of the day and use a high SPF sunscreen. Use a daily moisturiser that contains sunscreen of at least SPF 15, even in winter, and especially if you spend a lot of time outside or live somewhere thats consistently sunny. Tanning salons are no cure either; sunbeds are no safer than lying in the sun.