In our search for immortality and beauty, did you know that many products such as hair dye, nail polish and face creams contain harmful ingredients known to cause migraine, asthma, nerve damage, cancer, or even birth defects? Before booking your next appointment at the beauty salon, you may want to wise up on the truth behind some popular beauty treatments.

Nail Polish with Toluene

Who would have thought that painting finger nails could actually be harmful to your health? Research has found that many nail polishes contain a toxic trio of ingredients which have been linked to cancer, asthma and birth defects. What makes matters even more serious is the fact these ingredients have been found in nail polishes clearly labeled to show they did not contain them, which is a massive breach of trust.

The California Department of Toxic Substances Control tested 25 nail polishes and thinners for three known toxins: toluene, dibutyl phthalate (DBP) and formaldehyde. They found toluene, which can irritate the eyes, damage the nervous system and cause reproductive harm, in 10 products marked as toluene free.

In addition to the known health dangers from these chemicals, the air in a salon may be chemical and dust-laden, adding to the problem.

The solution? Use trusted brands such as OPI, Sally Hansen or water-based polishes such as Acquarella and choose a salon or area of the home which is well ventilated when applying polish. Above all, keep children out of salons to limit their exposure and reduce or eliminate your visits to the nail salon if pregnant. Manicurists are, of course, at most risk as they work with chemicals day-in, day-out. Best advice is to wear masks and gloves to protect lungs and skin from chemicals and work in a well-ventilated area or use an exhaust fan.

Hair Dye and Bladder Cancer Risks

Some research has suggested a link between hair dye and an increased risk of bladder cancer. Most studies have been too small to be conclusive, but in 2008, the World Health Organization (WHO) said there might be some evidence of increased risk of cancer in hairdressers who are regularly exposed to hair dye chemicals.

A larger international study into the effects of hair dyes reported that women who used hair dye before 1980 had a slightly elevated risk of some types of lymphoma and the risk was increased with the use of dark colored hair dyes. However, since 1980 hair dyes have radically changed and are now less likely to contain carcinogens. Studies continue, in particular looking at whether the slightly increased cancer risk is related to certain gene types.

Botox and Nerve Damage

Hailed as the answer to lines and wrinkles caused by ageing, Botox is in actual fact an injection of a botulinum toxin. Although legal, this procedure is not only painful when administered, but over time carries the risk of permanent nerve damage. Side effects to Botox include nausea, dizziness and migraine headaches in some patients.

Botox works by paralyzing the nerves in the face to prevent frowning, and in some cases smiling. Over time, existing wrinkles decrease and new wrinkles are prevented from developing. However, the paralyzing effects of the Botox soon wear off and must be repeated every few months.

Although the damaged nerve endings gradually repair themselves, it has been suggested that with prolonged use there is a risk that they may not recover. A secondary consideration is that the brain is affected by having the nerve signals tampered with and there may be long term damage, possibly indicated by the migraine headaches.