Stuffing one’s feet into high heels can seriously damage your feet. The pointy, cramped toe boxes can lead to bunions—painful, bony bumps, usually on the big toe joint, that tend to run in families. The downward pressure and awkward angle of your foot in high heels can also cause metatarsalgia—severe pain in the ball of your foot—and even stress fractures in the bones of your feet. Switching to wider shoes with lower heels can help, but in some cases the damage is extensive enough that surgery is needed.
The government classifies tanning beds as actual carcinogens, right alongside tobacco and asbestos. And yet nearly 10 million Americans willingly lie down in them on a regular basis. Using these indoor beds before age 35 can significantly raise your risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, as well as your risk of squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma. Sunless tanning sprays and creams, which usually use a color additive called dihydroxyacetone to darken the skin, are safe.
Toting a big, showy purse on your arm shifts your center of gravity in the direction of the handbag. You subconsciously compensate by leaning in the opposite direction, possibly leading to repetitive stress injuries and back pain. The larger the bag, the more likely you are to fill it up with more and heavier items. When choosing a purse, stick with those that don't exceed 10 to 15 percent of your body weight when filled.
Pubic hair grooming injuries among women increased six-fold between 2002 and 2010, according to an analysis in the journal Urology, sending nearly 7000 women to the emergency room with cuts, abrasions, rashes, and more. Razor lacerations accounted for the vast majority of bikini-related ER visits; overheated bikini wax was a cause, too. Bacterial infections, some life threatening, are also possible if proper hygiene guidelines aren’t followed.
When it comes to attacking wrinkles, topical retinoids are a popular choice. Applied to the skin once a day after cleansing, they work by boosting collagen and slowing and preventing UV-related aging. However, they can also be quite irritating, leading to excessive dryness, redness, and sensitivity to UV light. Start with a small dose and work your way up, and always wear sunscreen with at least SPF 15 to protect your skin from sun damage.
Creams that fade age spots typically work by interrupting the formation of melanin, the pigment responsible for tanning. For years, hydroquinone—a skin bleaching agent—has been the treatment of choice for many dermatologists. But in 2006 the FDA proposed a ban on over-the-counter hydroquinone because oral ingestion was linked with cancer in rats and mice. The FDA has asked for studies before making a final ruling. Hydroquinone has also been linked with ochronosis, a condition in which skin actually darkens—the exact opposite of what an age spot suffers wants.
For some curly-haired women, the allure of straight hair, even on humid days, seems worth almost any risk. But the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has found that some hair straightening products contain formaldehyde or release formaldehyde at unsafe levels during use. Besides being a known carcinogen (cancer-causing substance), formaldehyde can cause eye irritation, bloody noses, rashes, coughing, and wheezing in people exposed to it. OSHA recommends avoiding seven brand name products, including Brazilian Blowout Solution, Acai Therapy, and Natural Keratin Smoothing Treatment.
Even the healthiest eye is naturally home to bacteria. When you touch a mascara wand or eyeliner to your eye and then dip it into your makeup, you’re transferring some of those bacteria to your cosmetics. Over time, bacteria levels can build up, increasing your chances of developing an infection or allergic reaction. To protect your eyes, switch out your old cosmetics every three to four months for new ones. Avoid sharing makeup with others. And never use your saliva to moisten your makeup; the bacteria from your mouth can grow in your mascara or eyeliner.
Foot baths in nail salons can be contaminated with Mycobacterium fortuitum, fast-growing bacteria that can cause a serious infection called furunculosis. Although rare, outbreaks of this infection have been linked to pedicure salons in several states. In California, more than 100 patrons of a single salon contracted furunculosis in their legs after using a whirlpool footbath while getting pedicures. Be sure your salon does not reuse old pumice when exfoliating your feet, and ask how often staff sterilizes the foot baths and other equipment.