Wacky Spa Treatments that Might be Downright Dangerous
Read on before trying any of these "rejuvenating" procedures
Cross celebrity influencers with bizarro beauty and wellness treatments and what do you get? An elite squad of lobbyists aimed at making us feel like we are less than and peddling at best, garbage and at worst, toxins. We don't want to tell you what to do with your money or your body, but we do want you to be safe and love yourself the way your are. Here are some of the worst offenders. If you feel tempted, at least read the fine print.
Who aside from someone dressing up as Carrie for Halloween would smear their face with blood and be seen in public? The answer, Kim Kardashian. Like many of these treatments, the "Vampire Facial" appears so odd and repugnant it seems like it would have to work in order to even exist.
First, your blood is drawn and run through a centrifuge to derive what's called platelet-rich-plasma (PRP). Then, you get a pre-application micro-needling, which is a form of dermabrasion that's exactly what it sounds like. Finally, your prepped face is slathered with PRP. If performed by a reputable cosmetic dermatologist in a sterile setting, this treatment is considered safe and purported to encourage cell turnover and hydration.
FINE PRINT: It requires "a day or two" of recovery, needs to be done multiple times to be effective, and costs $1000 per session. Plus, lots of needles.
Otherwise known as squatting over a pot of herbal tea. Gwyneth Paltrow's wellness site GOOP promoted this vaginal "cleansing" treatment and Chrissy Teigen has posted a shot of herself getting one (which received nearly one million likes). According to GOOP, the V-Steam "stimulates the production of hormones to maintain uterine health, aids regular menstrual cycles, clears up hormonal acne, promotes circulation, and helps correct digestive disorders." It also "cleanses the uterus." In reality, your vagina and uterus are self-cleaning wonders and healthiest when you don't interfere too much with their magic.
FINE PRINT: OB/GYN and blogger Jen Gunter slammed the V-Steam on her blog, writing that the purported benefits are bunk and the treatment could tinker with the balance of beneficial bacteria that are crucial to vaginal health and also trigger allergic reactions. For optimal vaginal relaxation she recommends a good orgasm.
I'm 99.9 percent sure the expression "bad hair day" was invented by an advertising agency for a shampoo company. There is approximately one person who has long, straight, shiny frizz-free hair, especially during the summer. Yet we agonize over our hair, torturing it with irons and curlers and chemicals. The Brazilian Blowout, a straightening process that involves an application of liquid keratin followed by an intense blowout or flat iron, is touted as "life changing" and "transformative." Instagram and Pinterest are loaded with before and after snaps of this haircare holy grail. However, before you make an appointment at your local salon, be aware that the toxin formaldehyde is a byproduct of the treatment.
FINE PRINT: Environmental Working Group (EWG), a consumer watchdog non-profit, has been petitioning the FDA to ban the Brazilian Blowout for nearly ten years. According to the EWG: "These formaldehyde-laced hair straighteners —known as keratin treatments or by the brand name Brazilian Blowout—have been linked to injuries associated with formaldehyde exposure including massive hair loss, neck and face rashes, blistered scalps, nosebleeds, bleeding gums, eye irritation, breathing problems, and loss of taste and smell." They also point out that Brazilian Blowouts are not only risky for salon-goers, they are an occupational hazard for the stylists who handle the chemicals all day.
Don't turn your body into a science experiment Samual Zeller
Colon hydrotherapy is recommended by many wellness "experts" as a way to deep cleanse your system. According to reports, Jack Osbourne lost a bunch of weight by submitting to two sessions a day and Gisele Bundchen, Ben Affleck, Usher, Janet Jackson, and many other celebs are fans. I found my way to a colon therapist's heavy curtained and shabby office as part of a regrettable three day juice fast (a spurious, celebrity-endorsed enterprise in itself). In essence, what I experienced was a rocket-fueled enema that left me wobbly and depleted. As I lay in the bathtub trying to recover after I returned home, I recall mumbling about the experience to my husband, describing it as akin to "a back alley abortion in Bulgaria." It's not a pleasant experience and, like the vagina (see V-Steam above), the colon and rectum are designed by nature to clean themselves.
FINE PRINT: If you are thinking of getting a colonic, know that according to a study Georgetown University study published in JAMA, the procedure has no proven benefits. It can can also wipe out the healthy flora in your lower digestive tract and, in rare cases, puncture the colon.
Sticking your feet into a vat of flesh-eating fish—human logic suggests this is a trend that would have died out by itself, but ten years on, people are still allowing themselves to be nibbled. Kendall Jenner posted an image of herself on vacation in Greece looking adorably freaked out by what's billed as a "natural beauty treatment."
FINE PRINT: To protect us from ourselves, at least 10 states have banned fish pedis due to their associated risks including unsanitary conditions and the potential for infection as well as the inhumane treatment of the fish who must be starved in order to eat our dead skin.
Going on a hike, swimming in the ocean, looking at vibrant produce at a farmer's market—there are so many healthy and free ways to feel pampered. We are all for self-care, but please do a little research before submitting to quirky treatments that might inadvertently hurt you.