Dressed to kill? Fashion choices that do more harm than good

OFTEN WOMEN end up buying beauty products and accessories that they don’t know much about. To make matters worse, some don’t even take the time to read the instructions on the package detailing what components are found in the product.  

OFTEN WOMEN end up buying beauty products and accessories that they don’t know much about. To make matters worse, some don’t even take the time to read the instructions on the package detailing what components are found in the product.  

Usually these instructions provide guidelines on how to properly use the product because improper usage usually causes serious health issues. 

Below are some of the beauty products and fashion accessories, which if not used well, will cause harm to your health. 


Bridget Anita Murekezi, a ticketing agent, used to wear many layers of lip stick and wouldn’t leave her house before making sure her lips are almost the colour of the clothes she is wearing. 

“Many years ago, after applying lipstick, my lower lip began to swell as if helium had been pumped into it. I was rushed to the hospital where I discovered that I had an allergy to the product. The experience alerted me to the fact that if any cosmetic goes on your lips, it pays to check out what’s in it,” she said. 

This month, a team of researchers from UC Berkeley, a US university, issued a report indicating that they found lead, but also cadmium, chromium, aluminium, titanium, and four other dangerous metals in the 32 varieties of popular lipsticks and lip gloss they tested. 

“Just finding these metals isn’t the issue. It’s the levels that matter,” says study author Professor of environmental health sciences S. Katharine Hammond. “Some of the toxic metals are occurring at levels that could possibly have an effect in the long term.”

According to the researchers, average use of these products will expose people to excessive amounts of chromium, a chemical linked to lung cancer and stomach tumors.

Talking to HealthyDay News, Prof. Hammond advised that women cut back their use of lipstick and lip-gloss instead of totally tossing out their supply. 

High-heeled shoes

Allen Muguni, a 28-year-old, started wearing heels when she turned 18 when she first got her job as a receptionist. 

“High heeled shoes always make me feel confident and presentable. I am not that tall but with heels I feel normal and smart. It’s almost impossible to go to work without putting on high heeled shoes,” She said. 

She furthermore added that flat shoes make her feel like she is in the bathroom and only uses them at home. 

A new study shows that regularly wearing high heels can cause muscle and tendon changes in your legs -- to the point where wearing flats or flip-flops can be painful.

Wearing two-inch heels (or higher) five or more days a week shrinks a woman’s calf muscle fibres by 13 percent, on average. It also thickens the Achilles tendon -- which attaches the calf muscle to the heel -- by 22 percent, according to the study, which was published in the Journal of Experimental Biology.

Nail polish 

Painted nails may look glamorous but some chemicals in nail polish can have negative health effects and damage the nails. 

These chemicals include: Toluene is one of the solvents in nail polish and is known to cause problems with the nervous system, eyes, throat and lungs. Formaldehyde is also a chemical in nail polish used for nail hardening and is known for causing cancer when inhaled. 

Davis Mulisa is a manicure specialist at Alysha Beauty Saloon. He says some types of nail polish as well as poor application of nail polish will leave your nails thin, brittle and peeling.

“Some women come to the salon with damaged nails and we always tell them to choose the right salon to have a proper manicure. One can use nail oil after removing the nail polish and keep their nails short, use hand cream and massage almond oil into the nail and cuticle daily. This should minimise damage, but there are no guarantees,” he says.

Skin lightening cream 

These products are being increasingly used by people in a number of countries Rwanda inclusive in an attempt to lighten the skin. Older people are also using skin lightening creams to remove age or liver spots and other skin darkening conditions.

However few people are warned of the dangers of the toxic ingredients which, as well as containing steroids, includes hydroquinone. While the Food and Drug Administration allows hydroquinone in the US it is banned in Europe because of its potential to cause cancer. 

‘Clobetasol’ is a popular skin cream that contains high levels of the steroid corticosteroid. Typically this cream, which should only be used for two weeks at a time, is prescribed for skin conditions including Eczema and Psoriasis.

Unfortunately, some women far exceed the recommended usage, using two tubes of Clobetasol a week for over several years. The list of side effects of the steroid corticosteroid is many. The most serious is Cushing’s Disease, a malfunction of the adrenal glands leading to an overproduction of cortisol which leads to rapid weight gain. 

However, there are other lightening creams containing different toxins. In 2003, Dr S. Allen Counter of Harvard Medical School reported high levels of mercury found in people, especially particularly women, from Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Senegal and Tanzania because of their use of skin lightening creams.

He found out that 96% of women that use skin lightening creams have higher than normal mercury levels. Toxic levels of mercury lead to mercury poisoning which causes neurological and kidney damage, and may also lead to psychiatric disorders. In addition, it can lead to severe birth defects.


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