Simple, routine beauty appointments are considered “maintenance” by some; others find them to be a way to relax and pamper. Regardless of the purpose, if not done properly and by a certified expert, a straightforward beautifying habit can turn into much more. “There’s a lot of people who don’t take precautions for the client,” says Beverly Hills, CA, dermatologist Debra B. Luftman, MD. “That’s why you have to take the proper measures, ask the right questions, and look out for yourself. If you find someone you trust, it’s best to stick with him or her. Sometimes, it’s not about finding the best deal or saving a few bucks.”
Double dipping during waxing can contaminate the wax, potentially leading to infections. “We all have a certain level of bacteria on the skin, which is usually harmless,” explains New York hair-removal expert Shobha Tummala. “However, there are types of bacteria (like staph) that can be dangerous if you have a weak immune system. So, if your waxer double dips, you run the risk of contracting a potential infection from the contaminated wax.”
Your aesthetician should use a clean applicator each time she dips into the wax. “Double dipping during waxing, which is quite common, is scarier than double dipping your chips at a party,” says Tummala. “The same spatula is used during the treatment, re-dipping the applicator back into the wax, which is then used on others. Heated wax makes for the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and germs.” Waxing tools should be taken out of a sterilized pouch and sanitized before being used again. Always make sure a new roll of paper is put on the table before you lay down. And, whoever is doing your wax should wear gloves so there’s no cross-contamination.
Manicures and Pedicures
Unsanitary-looking tubs and bowls are just the beginning. Most women don’t know that some of the tools commonly utilized are actually illegal and can cause harm. While it’s hard to know if the metal tools (cuticle and nail clippers, cuticle pushers and scissors) used during your manicure and pedicure are properly sanitized or not, Essie Weingarten, founder and creator of Essie nail polishes and nail care, says that the best method of reassurance is seeing a sanitizer out in the open. “You want to look for an Enclave sterilizer and tools kept in plastic bags that are opened in front of you,” she says. Anything that’s not properly disinfected can transmit bacteria from one client to the next.
Most salons use sanitation kits but there are a large percentage of manicurists who don’t use them, as they are expensive and time-consuming. If you don’t see UV sanitizers around, bring your own set of tools with you. “That’s a sure way of knowing they are sanitized and only used on you,” adds Weingarten.
“Tanning from the sun or a bed is dangerous. Tanning beds can lead to cancers and premature aging and are also a source for skin infections,” says Dr. Luftman. Just like with waxing, and how certain sanitary levels need to be maintained, the same goes for tanning beds. “If they are not cleaned properly, bacteria and viruses can live on them and transfer from one person’s skin to the next,” says Dr. Luftman. “If a virus is able to withstand the heat of a tanning bed, imagine what else could possibly be living there too.”
Tanning beds are a taboo subject, primarily because of their propensity to cause burns and potential skin cancers. If they are not cleaned properly, they can play host to infectious diseases, bacteria and viruses. Not using them is your best bet.
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