You might be surprised to learn that certain beauty habits can negatively affect your health if you do them the wrong way. Common grooming routines can cause headaches, allergic reactions or even worse side-effects.
Here are eight routines to rethink, and what to do instead, so you can look and feel good too.
USING WIPES TO REMOVE YOUR MAKEUP
Cleansing wipes can contain a preservative called methylisothiazolinone (MI) which has been linked to the development of allergic reactions that cause rashes and itching. Choose wipes that don’t contain it or stick with creamy (MI-free) cleansers to clean your skin.
WEARING YOUR PONYTAIL TOO TIGHT
More than half of migraine sufferers say wearing their hair in a ponytail can trigger a headache. “Pulling the hair causes traction on the nerve endings in the scalp that can cause pain in the neck and facial muscles. This can precipitate a headache,” says Sydney-based neurosurgeon Dr Richard Parkinson. The good news is that taking the hair down causes the pain to go away – almost instantly in some cases.
Removing all your pubic hair means you’re up to four times more likely to catch STIs, including herpes and HPV. It’s not known exactly why, but it’s possible that hair removal can cause tiny tears in the skin that might make it easier for bacteria to enter the body. Keep hair neat by trimming instead – or at least wait 24 hours after shaving or waxing to have sex.
DIGGING OUT INGROWN HAIRS
Plucking out ingrown hairs can lead to infection and scarring, as tweezers are much larger than the follicle area. If you get ingrown hairs, have them removed by a beauty therapist – but prevention is a better idea. Exfoliating regularly with a body scrub or loofah prevents hairs from becoming trapped.
APPLYING EYELINER ON YOUR WATERLINE
Liner applied here is more likely to spread into the tear film, a thin fluid layer that covers the surface of the eye, potentially damaging contact lenses and irritating sensitive eyes. It’s better to line outside the rim, but if you can’t master that technique make sure you thoroughly sharpen your eyeliner before each application. “That way you’ll have a fresh tip which can help prevent infection,” says Dr Alison Ng from the Centre for Contact Lens Research at Canada’s University of Waterloo.
BITING YOUR NAILS
It might be tempting to nibble off a hangnail or the rough edge of a nail rather than using a nail file, but every time you put your fingers in your mouth, you expose your body to the germs on them, risking infection. That’s why nail biters are twice as likely to have traces of bacteria such as salmonella and E. coli in their saliva than non- biters. Painting your nails with something unpleasant can help break the habit of biting them.
REGULAR GEL MANICURES
The lights used to seal gel manicures give off UVA light. This type of light causes ageing and skin cancer, and while there’s no study conclusively linking manicures and cancers, some doctors suggest caution if you regularly have gel manicures done. One simple solution is to use sunscreen on your hands before your appointment – keep it off the nails themselves though, as it will affect how the gel sets
SHAVING YOUR LEGS BEFORE A PEDICURE
You might not want your pedicurist to see your hairy legs but shaving, particularly with a blunt razor, can cause tiny nicks in the skin. If your salon has less-than-perfect hygiene possible bacteria in the water in which you soak your feet could penetrate your skin. Shave at least 24 hours before your appointment. The American Pediatric Medical Association also suggests getting your pedicure early in the morning – the foot baths are likely to be cleanest then, reducing the risk of infection.