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Look good, feel worse?

We all take for granted that our health and beauty products are just what they claim to be, products that will keep us healthy and make us beautiful. However many of these cosmetics are filled with toxic chemicals that can actually cause great damage to our health and well being.

EwellAfrica will explore the usual health and beauty products and services and will bring you information on dangerous trends and chemicals you should be watching out for.

Nail Salons

Have you ever walked into a Nail salon and been overwhelmed by the poor air quality. The air is filled with fumes from the various chemical ingredients found in everything from Nail polish to acetone. Health problems like respiratory disorders are common among salon workers who take in this air for several hours a day. In fact a 1994 study found a increased risk for miscarriages among salon workers specifically involved in nail care.

There are more toxins in house paint than in nail polish, yet we take it for granted that the latest hot color and nail art on our feet, could not possible make us sick. There are over 10000 chemicals used in the nail care industry.

Take for example acrylic nails also called sculptured nails, that are so common among today’s fashionistas. Before acrylic nails are applied, the nail is sanded to create a rough surface but actually the sanding also makes the nail weaker and more permeable. Then the nail technician dips a brush into liquid ethyl methacrylate and then into a powdered primer, and then onto the nail at which points it becomes solid once dried. Then the nail is shaped, and filed. During this process, both the tech and the client are exposed to fumes and dust.

Is Ethyl methacrylate (EMA) safe? Rats exposed to EMA showed damage in their brains and spinal cords. Although the cosmetic industry review insists that EMA is safe when used according to directions to avoid skin contact. However for years the tobacco industry fought activists who proclaimed the dangers of cigarettes.

If EMA was the only chemical one was exposed to in a nail salon that would be one thing, however it is only one of the many chemicals found. Formaldehyde, a common ingredient in nail polishes, is classified as a carcinogen. Polishes also contain parabens, phthalates which are hormone disruptors. Many polishes also contain the phthalate DBP. In fact the Centers of Disease control in the US found chances were that majority of people have DBP in their systems and that the maximum levels were found in women between 20 and 40 years of age. DBP has been linked to birth defects and reproductive problems. Meanwhile fertility is on the decline.

Major nail polish makers like OPI and Sally Hansen have phased out their products containing DBP along with toluene. Toluene is a chemical that is also classified as a carcinogen as well as known to cause reproductive abnormalities.

As if the chemical threat were not enough, many clients are exposed to microbial dangers as well. Bacterial and fungal infections can be caught through the use of unsanitary equipment, particularly when tools that have sharp edges like blades.

Here are some tips to keep your nails beautiful while staying healthy.

  1. Limit or reduce the number of trips to the nail salon. Try doing a manicure or pedicure at home. Your wallet and your lungs will thank you.
  2. Pay attention to the chemicals in the products you are using. Also be mindful that the word natural does not mean safe. Some so called natural products actually contain more than ten toxic ingredients.
  3. Ask if your nail salon has a ventilation system (not airconditioners) but something that brings the good air in and takes the bad air out.
  4. Consider whether or not acrylic nails are really necessary.
  5. Ask if your salon has an autoclave which will help them sterilize their equipment and observe their cleaning practices.

About Ekene Onu

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