Beauty Crazes That Do More Harm Than Good


The pursuit of anything beauty-related these days always has its risks. For some beauty trends, however, the damage is severe. You may be wondering, what can one industry do that’d be so detrimental? A whole lot – to your self-esteem, health and the Earth you’re living on!


It’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting to stay relevant and have as much fun as everyone else. However, the popularity of some practices can cloud your judgement and it can be a severe disservice to yourself if you further enable the behaviour. We can’t #cancel people, but we can definitely cancel the following ‘beauty’ crazes!

Eyelash Extensions

These critters sit pretty on your face, and can really bring together your entire look. Eyelash extensions are no doubt the #1 beauty enhancers that people adore and I don’t blame them one bit.


I myself have tried numerous different eyelash extensions from different parlours! They’re soft and can save you money if you frequently buy one-time use lashes. However, do check if these businesses are using appropriate tools as many improper businesses dupe customers by using cheap materials like glue or extremely hard lashes that could injure your eyes. Do note, excessive use of eyelash extensions can lead to stressed lashes that cause a lot of fallout too. So, take a break once in a while from meeting your lash tech!


Another thing to note is that certain lash extensions are actually Mink fur! These are little brown animals that look akin to otters. However, their fur has become a popular source for fake eyelash manufacturers because each strand is thick, glossy and perfect for us humans. The issue? Minks are now the face for animal abuse, as PETA themselves stated several times that there’s no such thing as cruelty-free Mink eyelashes. Farms housing these gorgeous creatures subject them to excessive brushing and forcibly make them shed their fur, as documented in this video.


Skin Whitening Pills and Products


You’ve definitely seen those skin bleaching ads on Instagram. Since it’s so widely advertised online, it has to be safe, right? The answer is nada, my friends!


There are tonnes of skin whitening products going around now. Many digital stores and clinics now put up words like ‘total body bleaching’ on their pages. Another favoured procedure is called the ‘whitening drip’ where patients will literally have a so-called ‘serum’ injected into them. The results ARE there, no one is denying it, you do become fairer!


However, more often than we’d like, these products contain high levels of mercury. Even the Malaysian Health Ministry reported that they found 9 skin whitening products with scheduled poison, namely mercury and hydroquinone, in their ingredients. You may have come across a clinic and thought “They have over 60,000 followers so it should be OK.” See, the number of followers doesn’t equate to how legal they are. Be sure to always check with the Ministry of Health in your country!


No, don’t book that appointment with them either unless you want side effects! One may experience weight gain, physical stress, nausea and more. Not to mention the underlying emotional trauma it causes, as the acceptance of skin whitening treatments just further promotes a colourist beauty ideal.


Shady Cosmetic Surgery Boutiques

It’s not just skin bleaching that’s becoming a trend. Getting a sharper nose or plastic surgery for a very cheap price is also sought after by many!


The commercialization of ‘affordable beauty’ has contributed to shady cosmetic boutiques popping up, especially in ‘hotspot’ areas like Selangor, Johor and Kelantan. These cosmetic surgeries are procedures like V-shape threading; a thread or threads sewn into your cheeks to reduce ‘baby fat’ in your cheeks. There’s also button nose threading, where a thread is also sewn into your nose and pulled through to create an aquiline nose, a European feature that Asia has become obsessed with.


Then, of course, there’s the most desired breast and buttock augmentation packages. These are done by injecting dermal fillers into your body, to create a plump and full look of your behind or chest. However, the best way to spot how genuine a shop is is by taking note if they ever offer ‘deals’ like free litres or millilitres of filler. If you’re ever planning to do invasive surgery, do get more than one doctor’s opinion. Unlicensed or not, some businesses may proudly say they know what they’re doing, but you’re not even sure if they have been medically trained!


Botched surgeries, especially when low-grade silicone, derma fillers or botox is used can really complicate things for you, so let’s just hit the skip button okay.


Keratin Hair Treatments

For some of us, we want a sleek and straight look! However, we should know what we’re putting our hair through – at the end of the day, beauty can hurt too!

Ever since Brazillian blowouts got called out for being harmful back in 2010, salons and hair care products have attempted to better their ingredients. Hence, we see a lot of formaldehyde-free keratin treatments or hair products. The bitter truth though is that there’s just no such thing as something being totally formaldehyde-free. Formaldehyde isn’t a sole ingredient – it’s gas that is emitted when chemicals are exposed to heat and is a known carcinogen.


It’s still fine for you to straighten your hair with a Keratin treatment, as beauty companies are much more advanced and careful now. However, try to limit these treatments to once or twice a year at most, because too much exposure may lead to respiratory problems later! Always double-check with your hair stylist on the products they are using so you are in the know about what’s lathering your mane.


Selfie filters

People used to bash you if you used selfie filters, but now everyone is getting on the bandwagon with how creative they have become! Behind the cuteness, there are still some negatives to these Internet facades.


Yes, they might be all cute and pretty but the issue is many filters ‘modify’ your facial features far too much. Some lighten your skin tone and even make your nose and face slimmer! There are also trends like the ‘Big Belly’ filter that went viral on Tik Tok that got backlash as it encouraged the idea of fat-shaming.


This narrative of cute or pretty looking a certain way prevents people from subconsciously from accepting their natural look. This is because the overuse of filters can impede one’s perspective on their self-image as they’re used to seeing their filtered faces. The issue also arises when someone stops looking in the mirror because their mirror does not have a beauty filter function.


If you are personally affected by this, simply stop using the filters that alter your features too much and constantly remind yourself with a normal mirror or camera that you are good enough! There’s nothing you need to change at all.


So, the conclusion is that although trends can pick up and die off easily, what doesn’t go away is these psychological effects that beauty crazes can afflict. Especially onto the environment, considering that the beauty industry alone contributes about 120 billion units of packaging every year! So, the next time you see something going viral, give it a morality check first.

A realism artist and an aspiring filmmaker. She’s also a devotee to R&B music and an advocate for racial equality.

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