by Michelle Golden
Two summers ago my mother landed up in the emergency room; her heart rate was at a low four and the nurses were pumping something in her veins to reverse the drug effects of her attempted suicide. I remember staring at my mother, wondering if she was experiencing the same kind of internal emotional pain my sister and I were going through.
When she was later seen by a social worker we were told that she’s bipolar. My sister and I had been prepared for this answer for a while due to her years and years of destructive behavior. But when we finally had the answer in front of us, I don’t think either of us knew what to do next. Then, as if the social worker knew this was what we were thinking, she told us, “Your mother needs to get her self immediate help.”
We learned that bipolar disorder consists of disruptions in brain chemistry. The parts of the brain that control emotions don’t operate the way they should and because of this, individuals with the disorder experience certain moods more strongly and frequently than others for a longer period of time.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health approximately 5.7 million American adults or about 2.6 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year are affected by bipolar disorder, a disorder that severely affects mood swings. Out of the 5.7 million Americans who are affected by this disorder a lot of them are not aware of it and some may not even do anything to receive the right treatment.
For a number of reasons people who suffer from bipolar disorder don’t get the necessary help they need from a doctor. They may ignore their family and friend’s plea to seek treatment. Most of the time the number one reason for not seeing a doctor is fear. When people suffering from bipolar disorder live in denial they don’t have to face themselves, their fears, and reality. They can continue going about their everyday lives – even if their relationships with family, friends, and co-workers are at risk.
When getting treatment isn’t a priority people can risk becoming suicidal and one’s long-term physical health is at risk as well. And that’s the stage my mother was in when we found ourselves at her hospital bed. For years we didn’t know what the problem was and for years she never thought she had a problem.
Millions of Americans have bipolar disorder and it can develop at any point in an individual’s life. It’s not only a personality disorder but it is also a real disease. It requires medical attention just like cancer or diabetes requires treatment. The right treatment is out there for everybody. Medications are available to help stabilize moods and in therapy one can discuss feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. Through seeking professional help people can learn to cope with the bipolar disorder and learn how to fully engage in ways to better live a more gratifying and functional life.
One thing to realize when you’re dealing with a family member who has the disorder is that it isn’t your fault. For years my mother put the blame on my sister and I for her divorce from my father, or for her health, or just for even being born. But it is important to understand that all of these are irrational thoughts and though they may hurt, it really is the bipolar disorder in the parent speaking. Sometimes I think that maybe there is hope and she will change. But then those thoughts are interrupted when I remember the harsh names, the hitting, the shoving, and the manic state she was capable of getting stuck in. I used to think I was just the bad daughter. But when I moved out and my sister then had to deal with it, I knew that I had been wrong for many years and my mother’s daughters weren’t the problem. The fact that she wasn’t getting the right help was.
Although it’s been two years after my mother’s diagnosis and she still isn’t seeking the right help, I know that it takes time. It is true that her life has gone in a downwards spiral since then. She isn’t emotionally and physically healthy and stable to have a job. My mother is still suffering from the tremendous effects of the disorder. But I do have faith that at some point she’ll be ready to take the right medication, to speak with the right professional, and to trust in her own self and others that there is a light at the end of the long and dark tunnel. Like with anything, the first step is admitting when there is a problem. And after that, it’s about taking one day at a time.
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By Michelle Golden
It’s no surprise that magazines, advertisers, and marketers use the “art” of airbrushing photographs to alter what reality looks like and to convey a certain type of image. Covers of magazines show flawless actors, actresses, singers, and models. We’re all aware of this as consumers. We know these models don’t really look the way they are portrayed on the glossy pages, but for some reason we’re okay with it. We still go ahead and buy the products being advertised or the clothes being modeled. Then we get upset when the bathroom cabinet piles up with a collection of face washes that never really worked, cover –ups that advertise miracles and provide none and mascara that claims to never clump and does so after the first use. Still surprised that Vanessa Hudgens appears to have no zits as she advertises for Neutrogena’s skin clearing cleansers? Don’t be. Two words: Adobe Photoshop.
Recently there has been a lot of talk in the media world concerning the evils of airbrushing, a photo editing technique that is used in the mentioned and infamous Adobe Photoshop, providing a means of shaving off any imperfection. The messages behind many advertisements have been increasingly misleading.
The question major companies have been faced with is when have we taken airbrushing too far?
On September 29 an advertisement that appeared only in Japan, by fashion clothing line Ralph Lauren, featured model Filippa Hamilton who appeared to have a waist smaller than her actual head. Airbrushing images already illustrates an unnatural appearance, but as viewers, we still accept it, because although the models look perfect, oddly enough, we still think this beauty is realistic. However, Ralph Lauren, in this advertisement, showed the world exactly how distorted some perceptions of beauty can be.
Looking at the ad and of this poor model whose body was obviously not accepted for what it was, I couldn’t help but think, “Wow. She doesn’t even look simply skinny. She looks sick.”
After reading follow-up articles, I was astonished and rather revolted at the fact that Ralph Lauren actually had fired this model just a few months before they used her image for the advertisement. Hamilton, who had worked with Ralph Lauren since 2002, said in a New York Daily News article, published October 14, that she was fired because she weighed too much and could no longer fit in the company’s clothes.
Yet, Ralph Lauren still used her face and her body… well, only a sliver. The rest was edited away.
Promoting an unrealistic body image hurts the average teenager in more ways than just one. Do we really want to further encourage eating disorders or other unhealthy lifestyles? No. So how can we, as the voices of the next few generations, and the new faces in the social media world, alter this distorted so-called-ideal perception of beauty? How can we bring the natural back in beautiful?
One of the causes sponsored by JChoice, the new social network engaging Jewish youth in creative ways to make charitable contributions to diverse and meaningful causes of their choice, inspires teens to look beyond appearance. The Multi-Service Eating Disorders Association (MEDA) offers programs to guide teens to make healthy choices that will positively influence their self-esteem individually and those around them. Since food plays such a huge role in our society, family, and different cultures, eating disorders is a horrible aspect of reality that is coupled with the concept of food. Specifically among Jewish preteens and teens, eating disorders have been a prevalent concern. As mentioned on the JChoice website, a study conducted by the Jewish Women International site, has found that three in four Jewish girls between the ages of twelve and fifteen, have engaged in unhealthy eating and weight lifestyles. The mission of MEDA is to reach out to these preteens and teens in Jewish communities and to continuously raise awareness. MEDA reaches out to their targeted communities by creating different projects to remind our youth the importance of staying healthy and loving one’s body. One example of such a project is where interested members design a mirror with affirmations. These mirrors are then delivered to young teens that have been hospitalized for their eating disorders. In my opinion, such a project really emphasizes on the importance of loving the body you’re in. It encourages the power of the mirror as a reflection of one’s self and how essential it is to treat it with the utmost care, because, the body is probably one of the more fragile things in life.
What makes MEDA different from perhaps other health-related organizations is that the actual organization itself is comprised of six members who have recovered from an eating disorder. By being able to relate on such a personal level, these members can truly engage in helping both Jewish and Non-Jewish teens from many different communities recover from the dangers of eating disorders. MEDA partners with other eating disorder treatment facilities nationally. Founded by Rebecca Manley in 1994, MEDA was envisioned upon the idea that it would act as a safe haven for those individuals struggling with an eating disorder and a place where family members and friends of such patients can learn more about the illness and how to support their loved ones.
Through educational presentations, workshops, and speakers, MEDA reaches out to many diverse audiences to explain the causes of the illness and the emotional and physical effects. Together with organizations such as MEDA, we can work towards editing away eating disorders from society and providing a new, healthy model and face for all those magazines creating their own false and dangerous idea of beauty. Together recovery IS possible.
As my hairstyles changed, so did my outlook.
Society throws a fit when advertising perpetuates the idea that looks define a woman. Let’s face it girls: America is an appearance-based society. Yes, I am a woman who strongly agrees that physicality is of utmost importance. This is not a shallow perspective meant to spread the cycle of cookie-cutter cover models. It is quite the opposite. Admitting that looks matter makes it easier to embrace your own uniqueness.
I wanted to be a grown up. Like any little girl, I spent hours in front of the mirror practicing with curling tools of all shapes and sizes. Smoothed under. Flipped out. Hot rollers. Shirley Temple spirals. Loopy waves. Pin straight hair was my destiny, one that I chose not to accept.
I convinced myself that a perm was my magic wand to hair happiness. I would walk in a seventh-grader, but walk out a suave teenager. Two hours in the beauty chair would solve every problem. My hair would swish with each step like the Pantene Pro-V commercials, full of body and shine. Friends would stare in awe. Guys would relish tugging loose curls between their fingers.
Such were my expectations as I anxiously waited with my head full of plastic. The cosmetologist unwrapped each pink roller, revealing locks of hair wound as tight as a new Slinky. My nose stung with a chemical odor screaming of abnormality.
It looked worse. “It’ll loosen up in a month or two!” my mom encouraged.
My older brother wasn’t a fan of the subtle approach. “You look like a French Poodle. What did you do that for?” He barked at me and petted my hair at every opportunity.
At the time my mouth was also full of metal brackets linked with neon rubber bands. Glasses drew attention to unplucked eyebrows. My physique resembled a love for fettuccini alfredo more than any sports involvement.
Thirteen years old is not a shining memory.
The perm grew out after two years, much to everyone’s relief. I was determined to do anything necessary to save my high school hair fate from that of my middle school experience. I could only find courage to trim my hair for fear of living with another disaster through graduation. Leaving the house without blow drying was simply unacceptable. I woke up early in order to sculpt my extra-long locks into the silky curls the perm didn’t deliver.
I hit the treadmill, embraced marinara, and eventually lost the layer of pre-pubescent padding on my body. Contact lenses and tweezers became my friend. I divided the pictures of my life into stacks, scrapbooking the “cute” and destining the “other” pile to the basement dungeon.
I did everything expected of a seventeen year old.
My hair is as straight as ever now in college. I’m in remission from fear of scissors, playing around with layers and even – gasp! – bangs. I’ve mastered using a curling iron in a timely fashion, but it takes a special occasion to warrant its use. If you love me, you better love a ponytail. A nickname stuck as an ode to the Poodle look; I will be deemed “Frenchie” by my family well into middle age.
Physically, I took it down a notch. I was surprised to discover relief after years of obsessing about looks. I find it extremely ironic that I met my first boyfriend at the heaviest I’d ever been. That was a turning point of self-acceptance. He didn’t fall in love with my concept of a perfect image. He simply fell in love with me.
I’ve since lost the weight, but it wouldn’t kill me like it used to if a few pounds crept back. I laugh while showing my boyfriend the “other” set of pictures, now occupying a place inside the photo album.
At 21 years old, I’m still waiting to be a grown up. Once in awhile, I even whip out the glasses.
This is happiness.
Dry winter weather makes hands feel like sandpaper. Professional French manicures can easily cost upwards of $30 – not helpful on a student budget. Instead, freshen up and save a little moolah on your next girl’s night with a do-it-yourself manicure. Buying a few basic supplies is cheaper than a single salon visit and lasts for many manicures to come. Here’s what you’ll need:
Most of the basics can be found at drugstores and places like Target and Wal-Mart. For specialized products, try the True Blue Spa line of nail care at Bath and Body Works.
~Nail polish remover
~Cuticle moisturizer – found in a variety of creams and oils
~Buffer – a set of three files used for smoothing nail ridges
There are a great range of nail polish brands, prices, and colors to choose from. Personally, I appreciate the OPI brand line of polishes for its durability and choice of fun colors.
~Chip Skip – this colorless OPI liquid removes oils on nails to ensure long-lasting style
~Base Coat – a clear polish that prevents colored pigments from staining the nail
~White polish – the cornerstone of French tips. Try “Oh So Glam” by OPI
~Sheer Pink polish – pick a muted, translucent shade, such as “Passion” by OPI
~Top Coat – a clear, final sealant
~Makeup concealer brush – makes fixing mistakes a breeze when dipped in remover
~Fast dry drops – quickly hardens polish in as little as 60 seconds
DIY French Tip Manicure
- Remove any residual polish with cotton balls dipped in nail polish remover.
- Cut and file nail edges into a square with rounded edges. This shape provides the best defense against splits and tears.
- Smooth your nails with a buffer. Starting with the roughest grain, swipe the buffer across the top of the nail beds to even out ridges. Using ten strokes per nail, continue the same process with the medium-grain file. This step balances nail thickness. Finally, use the smooth-grain file to add sheen.
- Massage cuticle moisturizer into the dry skin surrounding your nails. This prevents painful hangnails and keeps hands from looking scraggly.
- Let the painting begin! Start with a coat of Chip Skip. Next, apply a layer of base coat. Wait five minutes for polish to dry.
- Now comes the tricky part. Using the white polish, carefully swipe the top 1/8 inch of each nail. A thin layer of polish and a light handed technique will help achieve a straight line. Don’t fret if your tips look less than perfect – use the concealer brush dipped in nail polish remover to correct mistakes and straighten out the polish line. Wait five minutes for polish to dry.
- Spread a thin layer of pink polish over your entire nail, including the white tips. This creates a unified and natural nail look. Wait five minutes for polish to dry.
- Add a thick layer of top coat. This creates a barrier between the polish other elements to prevent chips and dents. It also adds shine for a professional finish.
- Need to get out the door quickly and don’t have time for nails to dry? Place two quick-drying drops on each nail. This penetrates the polish and hardens layers in as little as one minute. Blowing air from a hairdryer or running nails under cold water are other tricks of the trade.
- Finally, rub a nickel-sized dollop of lotion over your hands. Viola! A professional quality manicure in under a half hour. Practice makes perfect!
by Laura Blythe
Girls today often have wrong ideas about modesty—what it means, what it entails, and why it’s so important a trait to posses. It seems many young women hear the word modesty and picture a woman dressed in a loose, long-sleeved dress that drags the floor and buttons just under the chin. The woman shows absolutely no skin or any hint of a figure.
But modesty, real modesty, is so much more than just the way we dress—it’s both a look and an attitude, and one real girls need to start emulating.
Modest In Our Dress
First of all, let me get this out there: in order to maintain your modesty, you do not need to dress like a pilgrim. Really. I promise, being modest does not mean sacrificing your fashion sense. There are plenty of fashionable clothes that do not reveal too much skin; you just might have to hunt for them a little harder. When it comes to clothes and modesty, there are just a few things to remember:
What kind of attention are you hoping to attract with what you wear? Are you trying to get the attention of men? This is not an inherently bad thing, but it is important to make sure that you are attracting the right type of attention and the right type of men. When your clothes are too revealing, too low, too tight or too short, it is likely that you will not receive the type of attention you desire from men. The focus should be on you and your wonderful personality, not on your body. So before you leave the house in the morning, double-check yourself in the mirror and imagine how you look to others.
Men are visual creatures. Not all men are, of course, but the good majority would say that they are. Today’s society is already sex saturated, and the majority of young men at my church will tell you that it is a struggle to avoid the feelings of lust and desire when sexuality is on parade everyday. As their friends, it is important that we do what we can to help them avoid temptation by ensuring that we are modest in a sea of immodesty.
Modest In Our Attitudes
Modesty is not just about covering up our bodies. Modesty is also an attitude. We must watch our tongues and our actions. When in mixed company, we should take care to watch what topics we will discuss and how in depth we will go. There are some topics that just aren’t appropriate for large groups, and some topics that can get out of hand easily. It is also imperative that we guard our actions. Take care to notice how you’re sitting around men, and how you act. Flirting is fun and perfectly acceptable in most situations, but watch how you flirt. Don’t use your charms to get what you want. Men are entranced by your beauty! Really, they are—try not to exploit this. Watch how you sit, how you lean over, and how you move.
You’ve been given an amazing gift with your beauty and your charms. It is crucial that as you realize the impact you can have on others, that you strive for modesty, not just in your dress, but in your actions as well.
It’s that time again. Aunt Flo is planning her visit. You’re almost surfin’ that crimson wave. Your period is on its way.
And everyone around you can tell, too. No, they aren’t psychic, and no, they haven’t memorized your cycle.
Maybe it has something to do with the way you yelled because someone forgot to buy more of your favorite chips, so now you’re stuck with cheddar and sour cream when you were really craving some salt and vinegar?
And the worst part is after being rude and irritable for a week, then there’s a week of actually having your period.
So how do we deal? Once a month for the next 25-30 years we will have PMS. Yes, it makes for a good excuse when we feel like lashing out on someone, but with a little effort, we (and the poor, innocent bystanders) can survive PMS.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services suggests some lifestyle changes that can reduce the nasty symptoms of PMS:
- Exercise regularly
- Eat healthy foods (fruits, vegetables and whole grains)
- Avoid salty and sugary foods, caffeine and alcohol
- Try to sleep at least 8 hours every night
- Release stress in healthy ways, such as talking to a friend, exercising or writing in a journal
- Do not smoke
- Take a multivitamin every day that has 400 micrograms of folic acid. Calcium supplements with vitamin D can also help.
- Over-the-counter pain medicines can help ease cramps and other aches associated with PMS.
Besides these helpful tips for dealing with PMS, there are a few more creative ways to get past the crappy attitude and put a smile on your face, even with gut-wrenching cramps. My personal PMS Survival Guide looks slightly different:
- Go shoe or accessory shopping. Absolutely not clothes shopping… there’s no worse time to try clothes on than when you are crampy and bloated. But shoes and jewelry look good even when you don’t feel confident about the rest of your body. Plus a little retail therapy can cure any slump in your mood.
- Get a really great book, throw on some sweats and curl up on the sofa. Taking time to relax by yourself will clear your mind and give you less of a chance to get annoyed by something that somebody says.
- Watch reality television. I can’t really explain this one, but for some strange reason, trashy television shows are like comfort food. Just try it and you’ll understand.
- Make something. A collage, friendship bracelets, whatever. Channeling the stress to concentrate on something creative and artsy helps a lot.
I have found that combining my own feel-good tricks with recommended PMS reducers helps me cope. Just because our hormones are doing back flips and our bodies insist on bloating and aching, it doesn’t mean that we don’t need to keep our attitudes in check. This month, try to control the freak outs. You’ll feel much better, and so will everyone around you who would have been caught in the line of fire.
by Gabriella Leone
Winter wonderland brings a natural catastrophe for your skin, lips and hair. The harsh sting of the winter wind is just as damaging as the warm summer sun. Your skin is never safe from damage, no matter the season.
In the spring and summer we wear SPF to protect our skins from the damaging ultra violet rays. In the winter the sun is just as strong as in the summer because it reflects off of the snow and ice onto our skin. This means that sunscreen that’s sitting in your beach bag needs to come back to work. Before you go outside slather at least a 20 SPF sunscreen, on any exposed part of your body. Also, before you put on your makeup put a SPF face sunscreen, like Eucerin Extra Protective Moisture Lotion, SPF 30, on your nose, and cheeks. These sunscreens will protect you from the sun’s damage and a winter sunburn, which is a burning, itchy and unpleasant experience.
If you don’t already have any sunscreen I suggest La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL. Not only does it have a high SPF but it contains Mexoryl, one of the strongest chemicals to almost perfectly protect you from any sun damage. Hydraphase UV SPF 30, another sun blocking lotion also contains sodium hyaluronate, an ingredient that targets dry areas on your skin. Sunscreens that have coconut butter, herbal oils and aloe vera will help hydrate your skin.
The winter winds suck the moisture out of the air, which leaves our skin dying for hydration. I suggest putting lotion on your skin at least three times a day; after you shower, in the middle of the day and before you sleep. A great lotion to use is Aveda Botanical, it’s made with rose, lavender and sandalwood oils which will keep your skin hydrated and healthy.
Another part of your body that gets dehydrated is your lips. How many winters have you suffered from red, chapped, dry and rash like lips? I’m sure it’s been one too many winters of that! This winter buy yourself a lip balm and stay away from all those flavored ones. They are lacking the moisture that your lips need to stay healthy. Try a lip balm like CarMax, it can be used all year round and it’s known for it’s moisture properties. However, don’t lick your lips, it will just make it worse.
Lastly how do you deal with winter hair? Split ends, dry scalp, dandruff, winter frizz and hair that is dry as straw. Well first buy some great hair products like heat protector, deep conditioners and for those that have dandruff Head n’ Shoulders works great. Try to avoid any hot heat tools, like curling irons and wash your hair every other day, but use generous amounts of conditioner. Another great idea is to wash your hair then leave a deep conditioning treatment on for 10 minutes, rinse out and towel dry your hair. These deep conditioners have a lot of vitamins in them and help restore your hair back to it’s healthy shine, texture and bounce.
So before you bundle up and head out that door to face the winter’s sting here are some quick little reminders. Your body and hair will get used to one product after a few weeks, so make sure you alternate between two products every week. Look for lotions and hair care with antioxidants like alpha-lipocid acid, green tea, grapeseed, vitamins C and E, chamomile and ginkgo biloba. Antioxidants counteract winter sun damage and they are usually all natural. Keep an eye out for all natural products, they are healthier and they usually serve as a dual purpose, being lotions and SPF protection. Also try to steer clear from heat sources in your home like hair driers, furnaces, and curling irons. Lastly if you love to use face masks, try to find one that has hydrates and conditions your skin.
If you follow these tips this winter and buy similar products, you won’t feel washed out, dry or dead like the world outside. Instead you’ll feel great about yourself and you’ll look great too!
A simple sticker can spread the word. A quick glance at a common STOP sign can boast the inspirational reminder. The free stickers and artist instillations that complete the “You are Beautiful” project spread the message of individual beauty.
The mini metallic reminders of personal beauty are available for everyone to display. Anyone can stick a “You are Beautiful” reminder on a near bus stop sign or bathroom mirror. The stickers are free, as you-are-beautiful.com outlines that “the goal of the project is to spread the message to as many individuals, and in as many places as possible, simply reminding them of their beauty.” To receive some of the precious message stickers, simply send a Self Addressed Stamped Envelope to:
You Are Beautiful
PO Box #220175
Chicago, IL 60622
Downloadable stickers are also available for instant beauty. The message is one of human kindness and unity through such humanity. The worldwide message has spread from Greenwich Village to Hong Kong, and many places in between.
The “You are Beautiful” project hopes to inspire positive thoughts in all who read the simple, yet often overlooked statement. In a world overflowing with body image issues and unattainable perfection, “You are Beautiful” reminds both males and females of the unique beauty that everyone possesses. Seeing a “You are Beautiful” sticker can ignite a positive dialogue among friends or even a grand grin.
Galleries across the United States have featured instillations and exhibits that communicate the “You are Beautiful” message via unconventional art. With the help of inspired patrons and artists alike, the message continues to grow. Anyone can join the revolution of human kindness and love.
Ultimately, the “You are Beautiful” project is about respect. Respect others and in turn respect yourself. Join the movement of positive change and be a crusader for beauty.
All images from you-are-beautiful.com
by Lauren Foster
Are you plagued by frizzy, unruly hair? Do you spend countless hours coiffing your mane only to have all your efforts ruined as soon as you step outside? Well, a new beauty treatment designed to combat these issues is rapidly gaining popularity—especially in Hollywood. It is called the Brazilian Keratin Treatment (BKT) and celebrities such as Nicole Richie, Lindsay Lohan and Ashley Tisdale have promoted its effectiveness. The BKT process involves coating the hair in the keratin formula, blow drying the hair, and finally sealing it in with a flat iron. The keratin helps to strengthen and straighten your hair, while adding shine; sometimes called “liquid hair,” the formula essentially is comprised of proteins that are intended to fortify your strands. So, you are just one blow-dry away from gorgeous, wash-and-wear hair; all you must do is coat your hair in strength-building proteins…and formaldehyde.
Yes, formaldehyde—a toxic chemical used to embalm corpses in order to preserve them. Experts believe that formaldehyde is dangerous; the International Agency for Research on Cancer declared it “a probable carcinogen,” yet it can be found in several cosmetics such as nail polish, lipstick—and now, the BKT. Research indicates that the inhalation of formaldehyde is a probable contributor to nasopharyngeal cancer. It is advised that when getting the BKT done, both the stylist and the customer wear masks to protect themselves. Also, the procedure should be done in a well-ventilated room with a fan turned on. Even with these precautions, many customers complain of the smell, dizziness, and burning, watery eyes—as these are common reactions to formaldehyde exposure. For stylists, safety is of extreme interest since they will be the ones frequently exposed to the fumes on a day-to-day basis, while a patron will only be exposed about every four months or so—the amount of time it takes for the BKT’s effects to wear off. However, there is also concern about how harmful having formaldehyde sitting on top of your head for four months could be.
Still, some claim the treatment is safe. Supporters of the BKT point to the fact that many of the solutions contain less than .2 percent formaldehyde, which according to The Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel, a group of doctors and scientists that review ingredients and recommend safety standards in cosmetics, is considered a safe amount. However, random testing done by Allure Magazine to test the dangers of BKT revealed that many of the solutions contained “at least ten times more formaldehyde than the .2 percent considered safe by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel. The FDA doesn’t currently regulate cosmetics, but they are investigating the safety of these treatments.” So, if you’re considering getting this treatment done, it is important to ask your trained technician about the percentage of formaldehyde in the formula.
In response to the growing concern over the health risks, many companies, such as Coppola and Global Keratin, have put out formaldehyde-free versions of the formulas. The downside to these formulas is that they don’t last as long, since the formaldehyde is a key agent in both straightening the hair and keeping the keratin in place. This is a potential issue considering the cost of the treatment can range from $150 to $600—a lot of money to be shelling out every few weeks. On the other hand, the effects are similar to the solutions with formaldehyde and it is a healthier alternative. Just remember to do your research on these formaldehyde-free products because oftentimes the companies may have just substituted the formaldehyde with Analydehyde, which can be equally as dangerous.
Despite the risks, if you still decide to get the BKT done, please know that it requires special care. Depending on the formula used, you may be required to go four days with out washing your hair, though some allow you to wash the next day. Also, you are not advised to tuck your hair behind your ears or use any types of clips, headbands, or hair ties. Another rule is that you may not use shampoo that contains sodium chloride, since this will strip the hair of the treatment. There is also some bad news for those individuals that exercise frequently—sweat will make the BKT wear off at a more rapid pace. Finally, it is recommended that you stay away from chlorinated pools and salt water because these also will make the results fade quicker.
Though the promise of a healthy, sleek, and shiny head of hair may sound alluring, the reality is that the Brazilian Keratin Treatment contains a carcinogenic agent and is not regulated by the FDA. These facts affirm that caution is required when making the decision whether or not to have the treatment done. With the plausible health risks, plus the expense and after-care routine, the BKT may be more of a hassle than it’s worth; skip this procedure and save yourself a headache—and not just from the fumes!