Burning and Bleeding to be Beautiful


As beauty and attraction trends come and go, and medicine, industry, and science advances, the products on the market advertised to make women match up with the current trends have gotten fiery.

This year, affordable drugstore company Essence Cosmetics released a plumping lip filler with chilli extract, to make your lips appear ‘visibly fuller’, mimicking the effects of cosmetic surgery. Named ‘What the Fake! Extreme’, it costs only £3 at Wilkos.

Though the product description details the item meets PETA regulations and reacts with the natural PH levels of your lips, it also ‘ensures extra sharp tingling on the lips’ to provide the plumping effect.

The lip gloss itself is a lovely pink shade, quite subtle, and has a really nice shimmer to it, however, I can’t say the whole experience was a positive one. Although the description warns of a tingling sensation, I can comfortably say that was underplayed. It burned.

From the moment the brush touched my lips, and for an hour later, my lips felt hot and irritated, definitely plumper, as the product intends, but the taste of chilli and the stabbing pain in my lips lasted a few hours after application.

The next beauty product resembling a Victorian torture device: the derma roller or, as it’s commonly known, microneedling.

Needles have been used for health purposes for centuries, dating back to the holistic practices of acupuncture and dry needling, and the beauty industry has caught on. Though the research and evidence circling the benefits of microneedling is vast and seemingly reliable, the capitalist environment we live in means cheaper, and less effective alternatives are hitting the market.

I purchased a plastic, wobbly, derma roller from eBay for about £2. As suggested online, not by the item’s packaging, you should start by using the tool only once a week and increase to potentially three times a week. Following this advice, for about two weeks I experienced irritation, redness, bleeding, and scratches across my face. Using google as my aesthetician, I can’t report any positive results, as advertised with the more expensive, safe products.

Third on the list, was a blackhead removing stick, again, only about £3 on Amazon, the idea of this little device is to press it hard in to your skin with the metal loop around a spot, and in theory it pops the spot, extracts the blackhead, or opens the dirt from a pore. It sounds fine in practice, but experts advise you NOT to pop spots yourself, and let them heal themselves.

Understandably, I can’t help myself, I want to remove the ugly chin spot as soon as possible, but that only allows the dirt and bacteria from that spot to get on surrounding skin, and then the cycle continues. This also leads to bleeding and potential scarring, as anyone who has gone through puberty will tell you. This tool makes that far worse, leaving an imprint on your skin, and for me, drawing blood each time, making my skin look far worse than if I had left it, or popped it myself.

As a grown woman, relatively well versed in the beauty industry and privy to their tricks, I fear how young girls would react to such products, and how far they would be willing to go to fit into the influencers’ standard of beauty. With price and quality dropping, unhindered by age restrictions or suitable safety warnings, how far is the industry willing to go to get a couple of quid from impressionable teenagers?

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