Harmful Beauty Trends to Avoid in 2013

So many beautifying techniques sound like a really great idea -- who wouldn't want to restore moisture and elasticity to their skin, deep condition and soften their hair, or get a pretty glow? But in our ever-enduring efforts to look our best, we can sometimes fall prey to unhealthy and even dangerous treatments.

Here are five beauty trends we saw this year that are just plain bad for you:

Keratin Straightening Systems

We've long been concerned about keratin treatments -- also known as Brazilian Straightening treatments. But as of earlier this year, the two biggest manufacturers of the treatment will include a warning about the carcinogenic effects of formaldehyde gas that is emitted when the product is mixed.`

Black Market Butt Injections

Loose solutions like silicone are not approved for injections in humans, and yet this fast-growing treatment that is meant to augment your posterior is regularly conducted at home or by unlicensed people, often known as "shot girls". 

In a certified surgeon's office, the typical augmentation would be done using the patient's own fat. And though any medical procedure caries its own set of risks, it's obvious that the regulated and controlled process conducted by a licensed physician is a safer bet.


This year's tanning mom was a cautionary tale if there ever was one -- though the majority of tanners obviously don't look quite like her. But even if that tanning-bed session gave you a healthy-looking glow, you're now 29 percent more likely to develop basal-cell carcinomas and 69 percent more likely to get squamous-cell carcinomas -- two types of deadly skin cancer.

Fish Spa Pedicures

It sounds harmless enough: Toothless carp known as "doctor fish" nibble away at the dead skin cells that form unsightly callouses on a person's feet. But a recent analysis of fish slated for spas throughout the U.K. showed they were found to have antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as Vibrio vulnificus, Vibrio cholerae, S. agalactiae and even Streptococcus agalactiae, which can cause pneumonia and other serious infections. 

That callous-sloughing razor doesn't sound so bad now, does it?

Bikini Waxes

At least one crusader -- a family doctor who runs a student health center in the U.K. -- is out to end the practice of bikini waxing. 

Dr. Emily Gibson explains that waxing pubic hair creates microtears in skin that, in turn, makes waxers more vulnerable to picking up infections -- either from bacteria that grows in the genital region, or from sexually transmitted disease. 

“Pubic hair does have a purpose, providing a cushion against friction that can cause skin abrasion and injury, and protection from bacteria," wrote Gibson in MedPage Today. "It is the visible result of adolescent hormones and certainly nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about.”

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