Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Beauty quacks can harm your skin

The beauty business in India is growing rapidly as lots of men and women are visiting salons and parlours to keep up with trends.

While need of such beauty treatments is debatable, the cause for concern is for those using these beauty aids from parlours manned by persons who have little or no knowledge of cosmetology.

Cosmetology and skincare are specialised fields where the person, who handles dangerous and harmful substances, must be well-trained and educated in the subject. Many believe that their job is akin to that of a skilled doctor, since both deal with the body.

In western countries, cosmetologists are trained at various institutions and centres, and cannot operate beauty salons without the necessary diplomas or licences. In India, however, anyone with a little experience in handling cosmetics becomes a beautician. Substances used for application on the skin or hair are often unlabelled and manufactured at the parlor itself. Safety and efficacy are often not given importance.

Emboldened by the lack of regulation and quality standards for the cosmetology industry, beauticians have also started using advanced treatments like dermabrasion, laser treatment of skin conditions, and advanced electrolysis for a variety of skin conditions, using hi-tech instruments which are capable of damage if not handled with care. Many mishaps take place but since the topic of beauty involves personal matters, not many are brought to light by those affected.

Yatin Deshpande, founder of the Cosmetology Industry Standards Council of India (CISCI) who has trained and worked in London, states that there are over 20,000 hair and beauty salons, skincare clinics and spas opened in upmarket localities, shopping malls, residential premises, and even in some slums of Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane. "Business is booming and untrained salon owners are happily fleecing unsuspecting clients by providing faulty treatments. Skin rashes, inflammation and burn injuries are the most common side-effects. These can leave lasting effects, both emotional and physical, says Deshpande.

Adding to the complexities, many companies are supplying a variety of spurious concoctions at wholesale rates to these salons and parlours. When confronted with reactions occurring from such products, even experienced dermatologists are often nonplussed, as the exact nature of the toxic substance is unknown, leading to the further aggravation of a delicate situation.

There is a serious case made out for giving teeth to the Drugs and Cosmetics Act to regulate the mushrooming beauty trade in the country. This has to be done before a catastrophe occurs at the hands of quacks who are out to dupe the unsuspecting consumer.

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