Hidden Dangers in Common Salon Treatments: Are YOU at Risk?

Last Updated: September 23, 2018
Hidden Dangers in Common Salon Treatments

Going to the beauty salon is a special treat for many women (and an ever-growing population of men, too). You walk in, you get pampered with relaxing massages and beauty treatments, and you walk out feeling less stressed and better about your overall appearance. What's not to love about the salon?

Well, depending on which salon you frequent and what sort of beauty treatments you request, there can be several reasons to be wary. Is your salon holding itself to the highest standards of safety and sanitation? Are all of its technicians licensed to work in the state where your salon is located? Is the beauty treatment you're paying for classified as a safe practice according to the FDA (or other relevant regulatory body)?

It doesn't take a genius to see the obvious dangers (such as receiving discount buttock injections from an unlicensed individual in a seedy hotel) of some beauty treatments. But there are more insidious threats lurking in even the most reputable beauty salons which might be harder to spot. In order to help you become an informed consumer, and to keep our readers as healthy and beautiful as possible, we've discovered some dangers which you might be vulnerable to. Keep reading for the full story.

What Are the Risks Associated with Beauty Salons?

You may already be aware of some of the more obvious risks to treating yourself at the salon, such as hand and foot infections from dirty tools used for manicures and pedicures. But here are some dangers which might be a little bit more elusive:

Ear Candling

Ear candling experts claim that using ear candles is a safe, natural way to clean wax and other potentially harmful substances out of your delicate inner ear canal. Allegedly, the process can prevent ear infections, alleviate ear ache, and some believe there's a spiritual healing element to the process.

However, there is a heated debate surrounding whether or not any of these claims are true. Furthermore, experts at the FDA warn that even when used as directed, ear candles can cause serious injuries, including ear drum perforation and hearing loss.

One reason candling is so popular, despite the obvious dangers, is because you can "see" instant results as soon as the candle is done burning. Cutting the last 2-3 inches of the candle open lengthwise usually reveals several grams of waxy buildup inside - all of which, allegedly, comes from inside your ear canal.

Interestingly, there is plenty of video footage online of these candles producing the same waxy buildup even when burned without inserting the narrow tip into anyone's ear canal. So even if the science behind the process (where the candle flame creates a vacuum and sucks buildup out of the ear canal) is true, what little actual wax is removed gets replaced with wax from the candle, in addition to soot from the smoke.

Experts recommend that anyone concerned with inner ear buildup, especially children, stick to over the counter solutions designed to gently dissolve buildup and irrigate it away with a syringe.

Brazilian Blowouts

What's so dangerous about a sleek, beautiful Brazilian blowout? One word: formaldehyde. Back in 2011, OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) revealed that certain Brazilian Blowout products produced formaldehyde gas - even those which claimed to be "formaldehyde free" on the label.

Formaldehyde can poison you by being inhaled into your lungs, getting into your eyes, or being absorbed into your skin. It can cause irritation of the skin, eyes, and lungs, creating breathing problems and asthma-like symptoms. It can even increase cancer risk in salon workers who are exposed to it on a daily basis.

As of right now, the only real alternative is to stick to a daily ritual of straightening your hair with a flat iron and smoothing/conditioning products. The tradeoff is clear: a little extra heat damage to your locks is certainly less risky than lung damage and cancer (in our ever-so-humble opinion).

Waxing Treatments

Waxing is a great way to get rid of unwanted hair - so long as it gets done safely. Waxing vulnerable areas, such as your face and/or your bikini area, are at an even higher risk than more common areas, such as legs and underarms. This is because the skin is more delicate, thereby more susceptible to injury and more vulnerable to infection. And it is frighteningly easy to introduce an infection into the skin through waxing, because using the wrong kind of wax will rip off the top layers of skin and cause inflammation, essentially opening the door for bacteria and then trapping them inside.

For your safety, stick to salons that use hard, cream-based waxes. Sugar and honey waxes are notorious for causing more pulling, pain, and damage to the skin. And if you don't see your technician testing the wax on his/her own skin before applying it to yours, speak up! Burned skin is even more vulnerable to infection. Bottom line: if you don't feel safe, find another salon.

We all want to look our best. And, on occasion, if we have some disposable income to throw around, we're more than willing to pay a little extra in order to feel pampered while achieving our ideal aesthetic. But don't put your health at risk for such a minor and fleeting reward. In the end, it's just not worth it.

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