Tips to be fit

Getting beautiful can cause problems. We most often think nothing of changing our hair color, getting a manicure or pedicure or putting on nail polish. These body enhancements can cause a number of health issues.

Painting your nails my seem innocent but it can cause harm. It does depend on the brand. Some polishes contain toxic chemicals. Most dangerous them are dibutyl phthalate, formaldehyde and toluene. After checking I found that OPI, Orly and Sally Hansen had pledged to remove those three chemicals. Still check the label when you buy polish. You can also use water based polishes that don’t contain these chemicals. If you need help try or download the app “Think Dirty” to help you make decision on your cosmetics. When you go to the salon ask the staff about the polishes they use or bring your own. Also make sure your salon is well ventilated which will help protect you from inhaling noxious fumes.

When it comes to hair care product to you have to be on guard. There are no governmental safety tests done before they are put on the market or used in salons. You can also use or download “Think Dirty” to help you make decision on your hair care products. Some hair care products contain ingredients known to be toxic or cause severe allergic reactions. This can be true of hair care products labeled “natural” and “hypoallergenic.” Even if the salons insist that the products are safe make sure they are safe.

Chemical hair straighteners usually contain formaldehyde, which can cause skin irritation, allergic reactions and even cancer. Even high-end salons use hair straighteners that contain formaldehyde. Even makers of popular hair straighteners that claim that their products don’t contain formaldehyde when tested the test showed the product contained formaldehyde. Even if the hair straightener doesn’t contain formaldehyde it will contain a chemical closely related to formaldehyde with similar ill health effects. Levels of formaldehyde above 0.1 ppm (parts per million) can irritate your nose, throat and lungs. These symptoms will get worse as the levels of formaldehyde increases. Formaldehyde is a very strong smelling chemical. Most companies dissolve the formaldehyde in water to form a chemical reacted. This reacted chemical is called methylene glycol. Methylene glycol poses the same threat as formaldehyde. I am a biochemist and I could not find hair straighteners that did not pose a threat to your health. So, be careful with what ever you use.

Hair dyes can pose heath issues too. Some hair dyes contain lead acetate. Lead acetate levels are the highest in men’s gradual change hair dyes. These dyes color your hair over a period of weeks to make your color change less drastic. Lead acetate is extremely toxic. Exposure to lead acetate can lead to serious health issues. These dyes can cause elevated lead levels throughout your home. Most of the men’s hair dyes I looked at contained lead acetate. You can check men’s hair dyes for safety at or download “Think Dirty.”

Most permanent hair dyes contain coal-tar ingredients, which are linked to cancer. These ingredients include aminophenols and pheylenediamines. The European Union has banned over 180 hair-dye ingredients for health reasons. Most of these banned European ingredients are still used in the US. Because the FDA do not have approve most products used in hair salons. If you must hair dye consider using temporary or semi permanent hair dyes. If you do use a permanent hair dye only do full jobs infrequently as possible. In between coloring just touch up your roots. When using a dye wear plastic gloves to limit exposure to your skin.

Hair sprays also pose health risk. When you use a hair spray you inhale a great deal of the spray. Hair spray contains chemicals that you should never breathe in. Breathable air should be a mixture of 70% nitrogen, 21% oxygen and 9% of other gases. When you fill a room with other gases you upset the function of your lungs and heart. When you don’t get the right mixture of breathable air it will make the heart and lungs work harder than normal. Heart attack and stroke can become an issue. You should choose a hair spray that comes in a pump bottle. The pump bottle tends disperse spray into a smaller area reducing the amount of hair spray you could inhale.

Shampoos and conditioners may contain ingredients that can be problematic to your health. Shampoos and conditioners can contain fragrances, preservatives, antibacterial agents and surfactants. Any of these chemicals can irritate your skin. You need to find skin and hair products that contain as few added ingredients as possible.

A few more chemicals to watch for:

Propylene Glycol: Also called propylene glycol dinitrate is a synthetic petrochemical used as an emulsifying base in lotions and creams to make the skin look smooth. Propylene glycol will actually age the skin at a faster rate. It can also lead to poor, saggy skin through absorption of propylene glycol. Propylene glycol is an ingredient found in brake and hydraulic fluids. Propylene glycol can damage your kidneys and liver.

Mineral Oil: Also called “oil mist” is a petroleum based oil which enlarges and clogs the skins pores. Mineral oil can also cause acne and poor/saggy skin. Mineral oil decreases your skin cell’s ability to exchange nutrients and waste products. Mineral oil can also irritate your eyes, skin and respiratory system.

Naphtha: Also called coal tar is used in synthetic colors and dyes to make products look appealing. Naphtha chemicals contain heavy metals and salts that deposit toxins onto the skin, which can cause irritations. Naphtha is also carcinogenic.

Paraben (methyl, propyl, butyl and ethyl): Parabens are found in shampoos, commercial moisturizers, shaving gels, spray tanning solutions, makeup and toothpaste. Paraben is used to prolong product shelf life. Parabens are estrogenic which can be disruptive for your normal hormone function. The exposure to Paraben has been linked to breast cancer.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate / Sodium Laureth Sulfate: Sodium lauryl sulfate is found in a majority of shampoos. Sodium lauryl sulfate helps to create lather and bubbles. These sulfates are generally derived from petroleum, which can cause eye irritation, scalp irritation and tangled hair.

Just think you go to a salon on Saturday polish your nails, get your hair shampooed and conditioned, get your hair dyed, get your hair straightened and then your stylist sprays your hair. You have just been exposed to hundreds of chemicals and will change into thousands of compounds that can affect your health.

If you have a fitness question or concern you would like addressed write to: “Tips to be Fit,” P.O. Box 53443, Philadelphia, PA 19105 or If you’ve missed an article of “Tips to be Fit” just search “Tips to be Fit.”

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