For as long as I can remember, I've been really interested in beauty and style and I've totally been guilty of some less-than-awesome practices - from too tight jeans (ouch!) to peeling my gel polish off (yikes!). Frighteningly, many women are risking their health for the sake of "being pretty" with dangerous habits, like restricting food intake to fit into a dress for an event. Bad habits are a lot like belly buttons in that we all have them, and the following list of bad beauty habits is by no means exhaustive. I've picked up many of these over my years of "beautification" and keeping up with the Joneses. The scary part? Many of these habits can actually wreak havoc on health and there is no pretty manicure worth a trip to the ER and two weeks of antibiotics. Trust me.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a cuticle picker – especially when I’m nervous – but the frightening reality is that it’s doing more than ruining my nail bed. Our cuticles actually protect the base of our nails from infections, and cutting or picking them increases your risk of getting one. Ew, right? Plus, hands are dirty – we touch dirty stuff with them all day long – making them even more susceptible to nasty infections.
After your showers, gently push back your cuticles and moisturize well to keep pickable hangnails at bay. Wash your hands regularly to keep the germies away, but use cool or lukewarm water to avoid drying them out. You can also try painting your nails in order to keep the picking at bay (this does not work for me). Zeba’s got the deets on mastering the DIY manicure.
Nobody likes chipped manicures or redoing their nails on a weekly basis – plus, who has time for that? As a result, many women head to the salon for long-lasting gel manicures but the UV lamp that dries those gel nails has a chance of giving you skin cancer. It’s no secret that UV-emitting devices like tanning beds are carcinogenic to humans – and the UV lamp for gel manicures is no different. The Skin Cancer Foundation says that the skin cancer risk associated with UVR-emitting nail lamps is low, but not insignificant.
I swapped by UV gel manicures for LED Shellacs about two years ago, but I have to admit that I’ve still got a bad habit of soaking up UV rays elsewhere...
I can hear one of my girlfriend’s crying from here: According to a recent study from the British College of Optometrists, the “repeated use of eyelash extensions can cause traction alopecia, a condition where the hair falls out due to excessive tensions placed on the hair shaft.” Uh, no thank you! If you’re an eyelash extension lover, take a break every few months and let your bare lashes breathe. Use lash conditioners to help repair damage. And try Benefit Beauty They’re Real mascara – it’s ahhhhhhmazing (and much cheaper than extensions).
Ahem. Raise your hand if you’ve got two-year-old foundation in your makeup bag. I know it hurts to ditch your expensive makeup when it’s only half gone but that compact is a breeding ground for icky bacteria, which can lead to breakouts, infections, pinkeye and all kinds of not-pretty things. If you’re not sure if your makeup has expired, this guide should help.
So, not to shit on the whole New Year’s Resolution thing but I’m seeing a lot of Facebook statuses and tweets about staring week-long juice cleanses, or hitting the gym for three hours a day… and neither of these things are good for you. It can be easy to overdo it when our motivation is high, but as Sarah reminds us over and over again moderation and balance are key. Super low-calorie diets and detox cleanses can actually slow your metabolism, weaken your immune system, lead to future weight gain and increase your risk of dehydration, heart palpitations and cardiac stress.
Um, so ingrown hairs suck. This is a universal fact, but infections suck even more so next time you’re overwhelmed with the desire to grab your tweezers and try to get that bugger out, take a step back. Digging around for that pesky hair can lead to scarring and infection. Instead, try one of these DIY treatments and take up knitting or something until the urge to tweeze has passed.
I am the absolute worst for this – especially since I never dealt with acne as a teenager. Ever since my son was an infant, I’ve ridden an acne-roller coaster and there are few things I hate more than pimples. It’s just so tempting and also really satisfying (in a totally disgusting way), but it actually does more harm than good. My popped pimples take way longer to heal, and often leave unsightly red marks for days and weeks afterwards - not to mention risking infection.
If your acne is a real problem, see a dermatologist. I’ve been using Tanda Zap for about 6 months and I love it but I’m not saying it will work for you. When my acne really gets out of hand, I make a mask with cinnamon and honey and dab it on my breakout.
Now tell me: what's your worst beauty habit?
IMAGE SOURCES: GRADYREESE VIA GETTY IMAGES | DESIGN: YMC