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Dying to Be Beautiful

Beauty may be only skin-deep, but dangers associated with some beauty procedures can cause damage to the core.

Buying Problems

In addition to whatever beauty treatments others perform for us, experts say we can also do ourselves harm when we purchase products not intended for consumer use, particularly on the Internet.

"There are extremely reliable sources for beauty products on the Internet – but there are also some unscrupulous sites selling things like medical grade chemical peels that can do you some serious harm," says Jamal.

Case in point, she says, is one patient who recently purchased a 30% salicylic acid peel online – and in the first thirty seconds of use experienced significant burnsburns and skin discolorations.

"Your typical over-the-counter salicylic acid solution is 0.5% to 2%. But this patient had no idea what he was buying because the product did not specify it was for physician use only," she says.

Moreover Ashinoff points out that too often spas purchase these same types of medical grade products, offering treatment without medical knowledge or skill.

"Doing the procedure is the easy part, it's handling the complications that separates the professional from the nonprofessional," she says.

Staying Safe: 9 Things You Can Do

So, how do you keep from paying a high price for your beauty care? First, experts say remember that problems are still in the minority, and the majority of people do just fine.

That said there are ways to increase your safety odds. With the help of our four medical experts, WebMD offers this checklist of the nine most important ways to stay healthy and beautiful.

  1. Pay attention to surroundings. Tierno says often there are signs indicating how safe and sanitary salon practices are -- if we just pay attention. "Are customers coming and going faster than instruments could be sterilized? Do you see them change the water in a footbath without sterilizing the tub? These are all signs that they may have sloppy hygiene practices," he says.
  2. For the safest manicure and pedicure Jamal says bring your own tools -- and ask the tech to leave your cuticles alone. "They should not be cut or pushed back -- it breaks the natural protection barrier between the skin and the nail and invites infection," she says.
  3. Never get an invasive treatment -- including wrinkle filling or relaxing injections -- from anyone other than a licensed medical doctor. Period.
  4. If you can't find it in your local drugstore -- don't buy it online. This, says Jamal, includes any type of skin treatment or product. "If it's not a brand name, if you can't find it in a local store, at least bring it to your doctor and get his or her approval before you use it," she says.
  5. When getting permanent makeup applied make sure the technician uses a new, disposable needle for every client. And, says Ashinoff, make certain they sterilize their hands and any other equipment that touches your skin. When having it removed, make sure a tiny test patch is done first to avoid the blackening oxidation.
  6. Ask your spa or salon to see the sterilizing solution used to clean equipment. It should say on the bottle what it kills, and how long it takes to kill it -- for example a 15-minute soak. Also ask about their hygiene protocol –and if they don't have one, run the other way, says Tierno.
  7. If your skin is even a little sensitive, Ashinoff says stop all use of retinol or glycolic acid five to seven days before a hair waxing. "If you are taking Accutane make sure the tech knows before the waxing. And if she says it doesn't matter, don't have the procedure done there," she says.
  8. To protect against skin infections that occur after hair removal (it's those little red bumps called folliculitisfolliculitis) ask your doctor for an antibiotic cream and apply it for several days prior to the treatment and several days after.
  9. Don't get suckered in by low prices, or promises of quick and easy treatment, cautions Narins. Moreover, she says, never have an antiaging treatment in someone's garage, basement, at an "injectable party," or in a hotel room.

Brush Up on Beauty

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