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The definition of beauty is constantly changing. What may have been considered beautiful in the 1900s may not necessarily be attractive today. Buxom women were considered attractive in the Victorian era, while slim, boyish figures were all the rage during the Roaring Twenties. And it’s not just down to time. Cultural background and personal preference play a major part in what a person considers beautiful.

With so many varying definitions of beauty I am sure that we have, at one time or another, tried to alter or modify a part of our face or body to fit in with the trend. Did you know that there are beauty trends that pose serious health risks? More surprising is that most of these trends are still being practiced today. Here are some beauty trends that are actually harmful to your health.

Tanning. If you have snowy-white skin, chances are, you have tried tanning at least once in your life. There are many ways to do it – you can bake under the sun, slather on fake tanning lotion or use a tanning bed. Of all three methods mentioned, the use of tanning beds pose the highest risk to health because tanning beds emit high levels of UV radiation. Studies show that regular use of tanning beds significantly increase the risk of skin cancer.

Skin Bleaching. White or fair skin is prized and admired in some cultures. As a result, women (and even men) have taken to bleaching their skin. Most whitening soaps and lotions contain high levels of mercury, which prevent the skin from producing melanin. Mercury, as we all know, is poisonous and prolonged exposure to it can affect our kidneys and nervous system.

Hair Straightening. Who doesn’t like straight, silky hair? It certainly looks good at any angle. If you have curly or wavy hair and you want to straighten your hair for an event, you can use a straightening iron. But if you want something a little bit more permanent, there are hair straighteners available that will do the job. When choosing hair straighteners you have to be careful, as most straighteners contain high levels of formaldehyde. Yes, it’s the same thing that they use for embalming. It’s a known carcinogen, and it can irritate eyes and could cause skin rashes.

High Heels. Nothing else spells sexy than a pair of high heeled shoes with your LBD. It changes your gait, making you look as if you’re sashaying across the room. But there’s something you should be aware of. Wearing high heels all the time not only ensures that you look smashing – you also run a very high risk of getting bunions, metatarsalgia and stress fractures. The risk is real and in some cases, surgery is required in order to correct the damage. No wonder stilettos are called killer shoes.