Since the beginning of time women have relied on beauty treatments and procedures to look their best. Whether it be an inexpensive lipstick or costly surgery, we readily snap up the latest product or service that promises to make us look young and beautiful.
Ancient Egyptians used heavy metals such as malachite and lead for cosmetics. Exposure from these chemicals led to insomnia and mental decrease. At one time it was also in vogue to darken your skin tone with animal dung. We’ve all heard of dying to be beautiful, but weren't those outdated practices taking it a bit literally?
Nowadays, there is an awareness of using safe ingredients in beauty products. But sometimes unsafe cosmetics make it through testing and get pushed out into the public. A few years back, over-the-counter Mario Badescu Skin Cream was found to contain steroids, a prescription ingredient. The result was many women suffered burns and agitated skin.
Worse yet are the circumstances where people were living what they thought was a healthy lifestyle and yet died because of it. Who knew too much protein and water could possibly kill you? Along those lines is the tragic case of Glenna Kohl, a physically fit lifeguard who died from melanoma at 26.
Still, others women fall victim to rogue infections sustained during shaving, waxing, or dyeing their hair.
The following list serves as a reminder, that, when seeking out beauty treatments and products, always do some research before you lather, eat, snip, or cut. And even when you think what you're doing is 100% safe, there is always some risk involved.
14 Protein Overdose
Just two weeks ago, 25-year-old Australian Meegan Hefford died from a protein overdose.
The mother of two had been taking protein supplements and shakes daily to prepare for an upcoming bodybuilding competition.
After being found unconscious in her apartment, doctors discovered that Hefford had a rare genetic condition called Urea Cycle Disorder, which affects one in 8,000 people. But it was too late.
“Her body just basically didn’t break down urea, the nitrogenous compound from protein,” said Basheerah Enahora, a registered dietician, and nutritionist with BE Nutrition in Charlotte.
When the body can’t flush the ammonia, it goes into the bloodstream and poisons the brain, eventually leading to brain damage, coma, and death. Enahora went on to say that the supplement industry is not regulated and that what could be perceived as a quick fix can be dangerous.
13 Johnson And Johnson Talcum Baby Powder
Last month, California resident Eva Echeverria was awarded $417 million from Johnson and Johnson, after claiming the company’s talcum baby powder caused her terminal ovarian cancer. For decades, Echeverria sprinkled the absorbent powder into her underwear as part of her daily routine.
Echeverria is not alone. More than 1,000 women are currently suing the company for covering up a cancer risk. The women claim the powder caused ovarian cancer, pointing to a 1971 Welsh study which discovered particles of talc embedded in ovarian and cervical tumors. The odds of a woman in the U.S. falling ill with ovarian cancer are 1 in 70 whereas the rate of cancer among women who use talc jumps to 1 in 53. Still, other research has found no association between talcum powder and ovarian cancer.
Only a few lawsuits have thus far gone to trial, and it’s interesting to note that most cases have sided against Johnson and Johnson
12 Water Intoxication
“Six to eight glasses daily”, so the saying goes. And while a healthy dose of water has many benefits, (clear skin, better functioning organs) there is such a thing as drinking too much water.
Back in 2007, a woman passed away after consuming too much water for an on-air radio stunt, and more recently it was reported that a 47-year-old woman hiking through the Grand Canyon died from water consumption.
While on a 6.2-mile hike across the Grand Canyon National Park a woman fainted at the end of the trail. When she regained consciousness, emergency serviced arrived and gave her an IV drip. Upon arriving at the hospital, the woman suddenly sat upright and doctors reported that she “vomited a large amount of clear fluid and immediately became unresponsive”. After stabilizing the woman, doctors gave her a saline solution and oxygen. But it was too late—the woman never regained consciousness and died 19 hours later.
Doctors only later determined that the woman wasn’t dehydrated, but rather suffered from “water intoxication”. Indeed, the woman’s husband confirmed his wife had “drank a large amount of water and ate very little” on the hike.
So, what happened? In a nutshell, this: long exercise sessions cause the body to lose sodium, a mineral which is essential for keeping the correct balance of water levels in the body’s cells. Low sodium levels cause water to rush into cells, including the brain. With only so much room for the brain to swell, tragic outcomes can include cerebral edema, coma, and death.
What’s especially tragic is that the outcome with the woman in the Grand Canyon could have been prevented. If first responders had administered an IV solution which diverted water away from cells, and not automatically treated her for dehydration, she may have lived.
11 A Close Shave With Death
In May 2012, married mom Dana Sedgewick grabbed a new razor, hopped into the shower and trimmed her bikini line. After shaving, she noticed a small bleeding pimple, but ignored it and went about her day. Two days later, Sedgewick starting experiencing dizziness and nausea. Later that day, her oldest daughter discovered her lying in bed, her legs covered in blood. Immediately following an emergency visit to the doctor, (where Sedgewick was prescribed antibiotic) she collapsed to the ground.
“By the time I got to the hospital, my legs were covered in black, rotting flesh. It was touch-and-go as to whether I’d make it.”
At the hospital, it was determined that Sedgewick had necrotizing fasciitis, a flesh-eating bacteria that can be caused by a minor cut or scratch.
In order to save her life, doctors’ cut away the diseased flesh and placed Sedgewick in a medically-induced coma for nine days.
10 Hair Dye Burns
Just last March, 24-year-old Gemma Williams from Manchester, England contracted septicemia (blood poisoning) after using Nice and Easy hair dye.
The cosmetologist bought the six-dollar hair dye and applied the product as directed. But 12 hours later, Williams started “looking like bubble woman”. Her forehead turned bright red, she suffered burns around her ears, and her eyes almost glued shut.
After an initial treatment of steroids and antibiotics failed to treat the inflammation and rashes, Gemma was admitted to the hospital. There, doctors discovered that the dye had seeped into her blood stream and caused septicemia. Doctors told Williams it was a good thing she had come back to the hospital when she did because she was only “an hour from death”.
9 Tanning To Death
Glenna Kohl was the picture of health. The 5-foot-3 vegetarian hiked, jogged, and rowed regularly. And yet at only 105 pounds, the Cape Cod native was strong enough to lifeguard at the local beach for six summers in a row.
So, at 22, it came as a shock to Kohl when she discovered that a lump near her groin tested positive for melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Shocked by the stage 3 diagnoses, Kohl and her family were even more mystified by the tumor’s origins. It turns out through a hospital mistake, a mole that had been removed years earlier and tested negative for cancer had actually been early stage melanoma.
How did a healthy, self-conscious young person develop melanoma? It seems Kohl had one guilty pleasure that conflicted with her healthy lifestyle—tanning. In addition to summers spent outdoors lifeguarding with nothing more than an SPF of 4, Kohl also tanned at dangerous indoor tanning beds. It seems as if years of UB rays triggered changes to the DNA in Kohl’s skin cells.
In November 2008, after a 3-year battle with melanoma, 26-year-old Kohl passed away.
8 Bad Brazilian
In 2007, a woman in Melbourne, Australia almost died after undergoing a “Brazilian” bikini wax.
The 20-year-old was admitted to an emergency room two weeks after receiving the beauty treatment. While the woman had experienced pain and minor bleeding during the procedure, her health had deteriorated greatly by the time she sought medical help. She presented herself at the hospital with a fever, excruciating pain, “grossly swollen” genitalia, and a rash across her chest and neck.
After some tests, the doctor’s concluded that the woman was suffering from a potentially life-threatening case of Streptococcus pyrogens. It was also determined that the patient suffered from poorly controlled diabetes. It is interesting to note that a weakened immune system gives infections a more hospitable environment to thrive.
After a steady dose of antibiotics and a 10 day stay in the hospital, the woman was released.
7 A Makeup Brush With Death
Oh Australia, what’s in the water down there? Or in this case, your makeup brushes?
Australian mom Jo Gilchrist nearly died after contracting a bacterial infection from a friend’s foundation brush.
After using the brush to touch up her makeup, 27-year-old Gilchrist contracted MRSA. The “superbug”, so called because it’s tough to clear up with most antibiotics, infected Gilchrist’s spine, leaving her in chronic pain and permanently wheelchair bound.
The mom told the Daily Mail Australia she feels “lucky” it went to her spine, and not her brain, where the bacteria surely would have killed her.
“This has been a real wake-up call,” Gilchrist adds.
I’d say. It’s a good reminder to clean your brushes often, and in order to cut down on bacteria, avoid sharing with friends.
6 Butt First, Beware! (Buttock Augmentation)
In the days of positive body image and curvy roles models such as Kim Kardashian, Buttock enhancement has been a growing trend.
During the procedure, which should be done by a surgeon, butt implants, or a fat transfer is surgically implanted behind the skin and fat.
In February, Sandra Yaneth Perez-Gonzales, 49, pleaded not guilty to one count of murder after the death of Hamilet Suarez, died at Areli’s Beauty Salon in Long Beach, California. Perez-Gonzales performed an illegal buttocks enhancement on Suarez, which resulted in Suarez collapse and death.
According to prosecutor’s, Perez-Gonzales is not a licensed doctor.
5 Beauty Parlor Stroke Syndrome
I will admit right now- this particular salon danger terrifies me.
You know when you lie back in the wash bowl, and the back of your neck comes in contact with the hard porcelain? Terrible feeling, right? Well, it turns out it might be a good idea to listen to your body and adjust your neck till it’s comfortable. Someone had a stroke from that pain!
Well, not quite.
While getting her hair washed, Elizabeth Smith did suffer a stroke which caused semi-permanent paralysis to one side of her face. But it wasn’t the position of her head in the bowl caused an artery in her neck to tear.
“It is not due to pressure on the artery cutting off the blood supply to the brain, but it is much more likely to be caused by a small tear in the lining of the vertebral arteries which run from the back of the neck up to the base of the brain, “neurologist Peter Humphrey of the Walton Centre for Neurology and Neurosurgery in Liverpool explained. “Clots could form…be swept upstream to the brain to cause a stroke.”
“Clots could form…be swept upstream to the brain to cause a stroke.”
4 Burned By Eos Lip Balm
A few years back, my kids had to have all the different flavors and colors of EOS lip balm.
“Yeah, but is it any good?” I asked the girls.
Both girls shrugged and kept spending their allowance accumulating the hip product that Miley Cyrus and Kim Kardashian plugged.
A few months after the spending spree, I noticed about eight lip balms rolling around loose in my daughter’s drawer.
“Oh, fallen out of favor, huh?” I asked.
My eleven-year-old shrugged her shoulders. “They aren’t very good, Mom. My lips actually feel drier.”
Maybe my daughter was on to something. In January of 2015, a class-action lawsuit was filed against EOS. The claim was that the cosmetic caused severe rashes and bleeding. The photo above was submitted as evidence, and the company has changed its labeling to reflect negative side effects reported by users.
The lip balm continues to come out with new colors and flavors and continues to rate 4-5 stars on Amazon.
3 Chaz Dean’s Wen Hair Care
In 2016, I was shocked when I heard about the class-action lawsuit being brought against Wen Cleansing Conditioner. During a beach vacation the previous summer, I had used my sister’s bottle of Wen while showering. After a week of using the non-lathering shampoo, I hadn’t noticed any difference in my hair, good or bad.
But, 200 women claimed Chaz Dean’s infomercial product made their hair thin, and in some cases, fall out in chunks. Nicole Rogers, Assistant Clinical Professor of Dermatology at Tulane University School of Medicine, didn’t think the number of plaintiffs who followed the suit was large enough to merit the class action lawsuit and believes the hair loss in the women was caused by natural, biological factors.
While Wen said there was “no scientific evidence to support any claim that our hair care products caused anyone to lose their hair,” the lawsuit was settled in November 2016, with anyone who purchased the product entitled to a $25 check.
If you are able to provide evidence of personal injury, including hair loss or damage, scalp irritation, or emotional distress, you may submit a claim for up to $20,000.
Wen is widely sold at national retailers and on QVC.
2 Jessica Alba’s Honest Sunscreen Lotion
Last year, The Honest Company’s 30 SPF Sunscreen came under attack after many people claimed the lotion simply didn’t work.
The lawsuit accused the company of false advertising because, in essence, the product didn’t protect people from the sun. In an online photo, a user posted a photo of her red back, a burn she claims she sustained after a short 45 minutes in the sun. Another user shows his tomato-red burned bald head, also acquired shortly after stepping outside.
One might be apt to blame the user, knowing even suntan has its limits of protection. But to bolster their cases came new information. In 2015, the Honest Company halved the amount of zinc oxide in the product!
Why would they reduce the amount of sun block? Bizarrely enough, not to save money, but to appease their customers. In 2014, consumers complained the product, which contained 20% zinc oxide, was too thick and greasy. So, what customers were left with was a more pleasant looking and smelling product that didn’t do much to protect their skin.
The lawsuit is ongoing.
1 Mario Badescu Skin Cream
When you read the back of your lotion jar, you expect the product contains nothing more, nothing less than what is written on the label. That is not necessarily always the case, as shown in the legal photo shown above.
In 2013, Mario Badescu agreed to settle claims that it falsely advertised its facial products as botanically-based when in fact that Healing Cream and Control Cream actually contained steroids, which can only be prescribed by a doctor.
Users of the creams suffered side effects such as itching, burning, irritation, dryness, and inflammation. What’s worse is that sometimes after women stopped using the product, the condition intensified as a rebound reaction.
Plaintiffs of the case received two $45 gift certificates to be used on the company's other products, or in Mario Basescu’s salons.
Uh…no thanks. Sounds like adding insult to injury.