TIME

If Looks Could Kill: Carcinogens in Hairdressers’ Blood from Dyes and Perms

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Mladen Mitrinovi—Getty Images

Study finds concerning carcinogens from dyes and perms in hairdressers' blood

Looking fabulous can come at a price—and sometimes that price is unwittingly outsourced to the people who provide these services for a living.

A new study of 295 female hairdressers, 32 regular users of hair dyes, and 60 people who get regular hair treatments found that permanent hair dyes and the chemicals used to straighter or curl hair can be carcinogenic to humans. Those with the highest exposure are hairdressers. The researchers found that among hair dressers, carcinogen levels in their blood tended to rise alongside the number of weekly permanent light hair coloring treatments they did.

It was only a few years ago that it was discovered that the Brazilian hair straightening—a treatment that smooths hair for up to six months–could release the known carcinogen formaldehyde. This despite the suggestion that keratin, which is a natural protein found in hair, is the ingredient doing the heavy lifting. In 2011, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and several State OSHA programs issued a Hazard Alert after hearing complaints from salon workers. A subsequent investigation found air-borne formaldehyde that exceeded OSHA safety guidelines

Brazilian blowouts are still a beauty salon option, even though the FDA issued a warning letter to one company that makes Brazilian blowout solution for labeling and safety violations. Yet, due to how the United States regulates salon treatments and cosmetics, the agency had little recourse to pull the products from salon shelves.

While it’s up to the consumer to choose whether to undergo a hair styling that puts them at a risk for chemical exposure, hairdressers are the ones really putting themselves at risk. The new study, published in the journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine, says hairdressers should protect themselves by using gloves and completing steps that cannot be done with gloves before hair dying.

 

TIME society

Here’s What Faces Would Look Like If They Were Perfectly Symmetrical

Are they more beautiful?

There’s a biological assumption that symmetrical faces are intrinsically more beautiful than ones with uneven features. Artist Alex John Beck decided to explore—and dispel—that myth.

Both Sides Of is a photography project that juxtaposes side-by-side portraits of models whose faces have been photoshopped to be mirror images of the left and right sides of their faces. The result was somewhat eerie.

“I think they lack character— beauty is more based on character than an arbitrary data point,” Beck says. “Humanity is messy and should remain as such. I, for one, am not a fan of center-parting, for example. And even the greatest tennis players favor one arm.”

Alex John Beck

While Beck illustrated the mirroring of the left side of the face in the photo on the left side, and the mirroring of the right side of the middle axis on the right, he wasn’t compelled to show the original photo. “I just didn’t want people referring back and forth from the original the whole time,” he says. “After all, the original is just a boring portrait.”

Alex John Beck

Although if desperate, there is a trick: “If you want to see the real face, you can just print it out and fold the paper.”

Alex John Beck

Since Beck works with models, some portraits showed very little change when it switched from left to right-sided symmetry.

Alex John Beck

But there were some distinct differences that surprised Beck.

Alex John Beck

The eyes.

“You can just see that the competent character that we made for the right side of the face is a little more present than the one on their left side,” Beck says. “You can see it in the intensity of their vision.”

Alex John Beck

Beck used the photo above as an example. “[He] looks completely identical, but the left eye confident is just a little more vacant, and there’s something very, very strange about that,” Beck says. “One side is completely present and alert and getting ready and interested, and the other side is half asleep.”

Alex John Beck

Some portraits turned out better than others.

“After a few rounds of portraits I was introduced to several people who had suffered slight or severe disfigurements resulting in facial asymmetry,” Beck says.

Alex John Beck

“In the specific case of the cross-eyed man, he is a dear friend and has generously been the subject of several experiments over the years,” Beck says. “I’ve sworn to him that the next one will be more flattering. It won’t.”

Alex John Beck

Beck’s models had a wide range of reaction to the portraits, from fascination to horror. “One person I had to take down,” he says.

But Beck understands the trepidation to accept the unexplored characteristics of your face.

“Someone asked if I ever did one of myself, and I answered ‘Yes,'” he says. “Is it out there? No. I’m not going to show it, and I don’t want to think about it. It’s depressing to even remember it.”

TIME psychology

You Better Have a Good Reason For That Tattoo

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Marie Killen—Getty Images/Flickr RF

Researchers look at what leads to tattoo stigma and regret

Tattoos aren’t taboo anymore, right? Common sense suggests we are in a post-stigma era when it comes to body ink, but recent behavioral research suggests we may not have reached total tattoo acceptance just yet.

A study published in The Social Science Journal looked at tattoo behavior and bias. Some of the findings are pretty obvious: For instance, if you’re surrounded by friends or family members who have tattoos, you are more likely to think getting tattoos are no big deal. But researchers also found that the more tattoos a person had the more they felt on the receiving end of stigmatization. And the more stigmatized a tattooed person feels, the more likely they are to cover them up or have them removed.

Interesting research published in the same journal last August provides a bit more context into why people might regret tattoos. According to the findings, when someone gets a tattoo, they feel the need to imbue it with meaning, and can become quite distressed over their tattoo narratives if they feel insufficient. When people get a tattoo simply for the sake of wanting one, they are more likely to feel regret later. For example, one study subject told the researchers she got a tattoo of a lizard for the heck of it. The lizard had no meaning, and neither did her decision to get a tattoo. She regretted it because she had no significant meaning or purpose for it. Another participant got a tattoo of the date he overdosed on heroin as a reminder for himself. He eventually grew wary of other peoples’ questions about it.

Not everyone needs a reason to get a tattoo, but behavioral research shows us that in general, people expect there to be a meaning or purpose for it—and that’s a meaning you can expect to be asked about by onlookers. Just a few things to keep in mind before you get inked.

TIME Media

Rihanna Perfume Ad Deemed Too Sexy for UK Children

The posters have been removed from areas where children may see them

Ads for singer Rihanna’s perfume can only be posted in the UK outside the view of children because the posters are “sexually suggestive,” the Advertising Standards Authority said Wednesday. The poster features a picture of Rihanna naked except for shoes—though no full frontal nudity is shown.

Parlux Fragrances, who made the fragrance, holds that Rihanna is known for her provocative songs and most women would not consider the ad demeaning. The ASA, an independent agency which oversees advertising in the UK, agreed that the ad was “unlikely to be demeaning to women or to cause serious or widespread offense” because she looked “defiant” rather than “vulnerable.”

But that didn’t mean the ad is appropriate for children, the ASA said.

“While we did not consider the image to be overtly sexual, we considered that Rihanna’s pose, with her legs raised in the air, was provocative. Because of this, and the fact that Rihanna appeared to be naked except for high heels, we concluded that the ad was sexually suggestive and should have been given a placement restriction to reduce the possibility of it being seen by children.”

This isn’t the first time Rihanna has come under fire for playing up her sex appeal: The controversy comes just days after Rihanna wore a very revealing dress to the 2014 CFDA Fashion Icon Award that was almost completely see-through.

 

TIME beauty

Scout Willis: Topless Instagram Photos Are a Feminist Issue

Nylon + BCBGeneration May Young Hollywood Party - Arrivals
Scout Willis attends the Nylon Magazine May young Hollywood issue party at Tropicana Bar at The Hollywood Rooselvelt Hotel on May 8, 2014 in Hollywood, California. Tibrina Hobson—Getty Images

The famous daughter explains why she walked the streets of New York semi-nude last week to protest Instagram's discrimination against women's nipples

More than a few people noticed when Scout Willis walked around New York topless last week. But the 22-year-old daughter of Demi Moore and Bruce Willis says she wasn’t just trying to get attention — her public display was in protest of Instagram’s Terms of Use, which forbids users from posting nude or partially nude images. Willis took to XOJane on Monday to defend her shirtlessness, saying that women should be allowed to show their nipples on social media as a matter of female empowerment and gender equality.

The drama began two weeks ago when Willis said her Instagram account was deactivated because she posted a photo of herself in a sheer shirt and another photo of a sweatshirt featuring a picture of two friends topless. (You can’t see her faces in the photo.) She made a new account, but Instagram quickly took issue with one of her photos. She tweeted Instagram‘s fairly long response to her in which the company noted that while they “love that people use Instagram to express themselves artistically,” they must remain conscious of their global audience’s sensitivities when it comes to nudity.

So last Tuesday she took to the streets of New York — where female toplessness is legal — as a demonstration, tweeting photos of herself as she went: “Legal in NYC but not on @instagram” and “What @instagram won’t let you see #FreeTheNipple” she tweeted. Willis has continued since to post photos in which her nipples are visible to her Twitter account.

Willis is far from the first woman to be booted from social media for showing areola: the Facebook-owned site has previously asked mothers to take down pictures of them nursing their children and breast cancer survivors to take down their post-surgery photos, according to People. And earlier this year, Rihanna deleted her notoriously racy Instagram after the app mistakenly flagged the account.

Instagram’s policy, Willis argues, discriminates against women and reinforces sexist societal norms. She wrote in XOJane:

In the 1930s, men’s nipples were just as provocative, shameful and taboo as women’s are now, and men were protesting in much the same way. In 1930, four men went topless to Coney Island and were arrested. In 1935, a flash mob of topless men descended upon Atlantic City, 42 of whom were arrested. Men fought and they were heard, changing not only laws but social consciousness. And by 1936, men’s bare chests were accepted as the norm.

So why is it that 80 years later women can’t seem to achieve the same for their chests? Why can’t a mother proudly breastfeed her child in public without feeling sexualized? why is a 17-year-old girl being asked to leave her own prom because a group of fathers find her too provocative?…I am not trying to argue for mandatory toplessness, or even bralessness. What I am arguing for is a woman’s right to choose how she represents her body —and to make that choice based on personal desire and not a fear of how people will react to her or how society will judge her. No woman should be made to feel ashamed of her body.

Willis equates the nipple issue with body shaming and slut shaming in another part of the essay.

 

TIME psychology

An Unscientific Argument For Wearing Perfume

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Anthony Lee—Getty Images/Caiaimage

Chanel no. 5 anyone?

It’s been known for awhile that pleasant odors can lead to a higher perception of appearance, but what’s unknown is whether odor influences the actual visual perceptions of facial features. Like whether a person has more wrinkles and blemishes.

To test this, researchers from the Monell Chemical Senses Center had 18 young adults rate the attractiveness of eight images of female faces that had varying levels of aging.

When the participants were rating the images, one of five odors was released. The worst order was a mixture of fish oil, and the most pleasant smell was rose oil. The middle smells were along a spectrum between the two.

The results show that the way the participants visually perceived the women was strongly influenced by what odor they were smelling. When they smelled something pleasant, they rated the older looking faces as younger, and the younger faces as even younger. That was not the case with bad smells. Older and younger faces were perceived as similar in age.

The study, which is published in the journal PLOS ONE, was clearly quite small so more research is needed before any definite conclusions are drawn. But it’s Friday, and come on, this is interesting.

 

TIME Media

‘Sexy’ Toddlers In a New Diaper Ad Kick Up Controversy

Israeli parents protest a provactive new commercial for faux-denim diapers

A new diaper campaign in Israel is stoking criticism for putting toddlers in sexy poses.

The video ad, produced by McCann-Erickson, hocks Huggies new denim diapers, which they posit are fashion forward enough to build little outfits around. In the video, child models accessorize their underpants-jeans with sunglasses, straw hats and guitars. A girl baby adjusts a boy’s bow tie. Another sticks her chest out in one shot, and poses with legs apart and finger in her mouth in another. The 20 second spot is set to music that sounds like a rip-off of Madonna’s 1990 hit, “Vogue,” and had this been shown to me without a timestamp, I’d have guessed the ad was produced around the same time, rather than now.

These little kids seem to move more awkwardly than sexually, as small people tend to do, but that’s not how some Israeli parents feel about the ads.

One local father compared the baby models frozen on billboards to the come-hither pose of Israeli model, Bar Refaeli on a nearby advertisement, according to Vocativ. One Tweeter said the campaign belongs in the Red Light District, while another simply said “@huggies WTF?”

Maybe selling something on the backs of provocatively dressed little people is new for Israel, but not for America where, since the 90s, we have become quite skilled at it. JonBenet Ramsey begat TLC’s Toddlers and Tiaras, which has long had the dolled up toddler crown on lock. That fixation produced the beloved Honey Boo Boo, whose unique brand and zany family earned her a show of her own.

Not long ago, Vogue Paris was skewered for a spread that depicted little girls in kitten heels, makeup and sultry pouts. Gwyneth Paltrow drew ire over an exclusive line of ruffly kiddie bikinis designed for her lifestyle bible, Goop. Dolls from Barbie to Bratz have been deemed too sexualized for child’s play, but they’re still available for purchase.

Compared to all of the above, these poorly produced Huggies ads seem distasteful, yet tame.

TIME Cancer

Dermatologists Are Skeptical of New “Drinkable” SPF

Don't ditch your spreadable SPF just yet

Have you heard of the new sunscreen you can drink? Introducing Osmosis Skincare’s UV Neutralizer Harmonized Water, a product that claims to provide the equivalent of SPF 30, protecting you from 97% of UVA and UVB rays for up to three hours. How? By making the water molecules just below the surface of your skin vibrate, emitting frequencies that cancel out the burn-causing frequencies of UVA and UVB radiation, says Ben Johnson, MD, general practitioner and founder of Osmosis Skincare.

If that sounds like science fiction to you, you have good reason to be skeptical.

“How can you drink something that causes a vibrational wave in your skin?,” says Doris Day, MD, a dermatologist based in New York. “When you’re making a big claim like this, you need solid proof.”

MORE: 8 Ways To Disguise Thinning Hair

And there doesn’t seem to be any. “There’s no evidence-based scientific data to support the product’s SPF 30 claims,” says dermatologist Michael Shapiro, MD, also based in New York. Plus, “Saying that their water is ‘imprinted’ with vibrational waves which ‘isolate’ the frequencies that protect against UV rays is dubious at best,” he says. He also notes that the company’s explanation of how the product works is too vague and too “out there” to allow the public to understand the science behind the claims.

We asked Johnson for the details on the company’s research, and well, there’s very little. No independent or clinical trials have been conducted on the product. Instead, “the UV Neutralizer was tested internally on roughly 50 people for extended stays in the sun before we launched it,” he says. As for what he says to dermatologists who don’t believe the hype, Johnson at least understands the skepticism, but urges them (and the public) to try it for themselves.

MORE: 16 Simple Healing Foods

Here’s the thing: Some sun protection can come from the inside out. There’s evidence that key nutrients found in certain foods, like phytochemicals in grapes, berries, and walnuts, and sulforaphane in broccoli, can offer some degree of protection. But these are supplemental. Your best bet is to follow Day’s advice: “You can get extra sun protection from nutritional sources, but it doesn’t replace the need for sunscreen every day and sun-smart behavior.”

Need a refresher on best sun practices? Check out our ultimate guide to sunscreen.

TIME beauty

Lingerie Store Under Fire for Mannequins So Skinny Their Ribs Poke Out

Mobile Photography At The 2013 Milan Design Week
A creation by La Perla is displayed on April 13, 2013 in Milan, Italy. Vittorio Zunino Celotto—Getty Images

The lingerie store has removed the too-skinny mannequins and apologized

The high-end lingerie store La Perla has removed mannequins from its SoHo-neighborhood boutique in New York City, following complaints that the dummies were too skinny. While skinny models are the norm in most stores, customers complained that La Perla’s mannequins looked unhealthily thin.

The outcry began Monday when passersby Michael Rodoy took to Twitter to complain about the emaciated figures, whose ribs were clearly visible. Other customers reportedly complained to the store about the figures, too.

The picture began to circulate around the Internet, prompting La Perla to remove the models and issue a statement:

The mannequin photographed has been removed from the store and will not be used again by any La Perla boutique.

La Perla isn’t the first store to get flak for anorexic-looking mannequins. In 2011, customers criticized Gap for using impossibly thin mannequins in its “always skinny” jeans display. In fact, most mannequins in the U.S. are still between a svelte size 2 and a still-small size 6, and often if you peak behind the figures, you’ll find clips pulling the clothes so that they are more form-fitting. As my TIME colleague Laura Stampler has pointed out, many mannequins are six inches taller and six sizes smaller than the average woman. “Clothes look better on tall, thin, abnormal bodies,” Bloomingdale’s visual director Roya Sullivan told the Chicago Tribune.

Such thinspiration-gone-wrong incidents have inspired some stores to display more voluptuous figures to model their clothes. Swedish chain Ahlens has been using full-figured mannequins for years. British department store Debenhams began displaying size-16 mannequins last year. And a trend of mannequins with enhanced breasts and buttocks is sweeping Venezuela. Managers at these department stores have said they hope the more realistically shaped women will help customers feel comfortable in their own bodies and also get a more realistic sense of what the clothes will look like when they try them on.

TIME beauty

Science Shows Men Like Women With Less Makeup

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Tara Moore—Getty Images

People find women more attractive with less makeup

Women should probably cool it with the eyeliner.

New research published in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology found that people’s perceptions of what men and women find attractive are off. And even though many women decide to wear makeup to make themselves “more” attractive, they may be overdoing it.

Researchers at Bangor University and Aberdeen University gave 44 women different types of foundation, lipstick, blush and mascara and then told them to put on makeup like they were going on a night out. The women were photographed before and after they put on any makeup. The researchers then altered the photographs so they had a range of 21 images of the women wearing various amounts of makeup.

The images were then shown to 44 Bangor University students, who were told to pick the photo that they thought was the most attractive, the photo they thought women would prefer and the photo men would prefer.

The image below is an example of the before and after makeup images.

Courtesy of Alex Lee Jones

The image below is an example of the series of images from less to more makeup.

Courtesy of Alex Lee Jones

Interestingly, the women liked images of the models wearing a bit more makeup than the men did. All of the participants assumed men would like the models with more makeup on than the women would, but that turned out to be untrue. Men and women both preferred the images of the models wearing 40% less makeup than they initially put on.

The researchers conclude that women are putting on makeup for a perceived standard of beauty that may not actually exist. “Taken together, these results suggest that women are likely wearing cosmetics to appeal to the mistaken preferences of others. These mistaken preferences seem more tied to the perceived expectancies of men, and, to a lesser degree, of women,” the authors wrote.

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