Are Instagram beauty trends safe?

07/06/2016 04:08 pm ET

Tupperware parties and Mary Kay pioneered peer-to-peer marketing, but today’s brands have a not so secret weapon - Instagram.

Instagram has catapulted peer-to-peer sales into the limelight with a new wave of products that are being marketed primarily on the social media channel, but is all this social selling safe?

We sat down with board-certified physicians to discuss whether the buzzing beauty trends taking over our Insta-feeds are safe and live up to their claims.

New obsession @sugarbearhair 🐻 I have two of these a day as part of my hair care routine. They are delish! #sugarbearhair #sp

A photo posted by Kim Kardashian West (@kimkardashian) on

SugarBear Hair Gummy Vitamins

Kardashian/Jenner-endorsed, these vitamins promise to make hair “stronger, longer and shinier” while also reducing hair breakage and retail for $30 for a one month supply.

Dr. Michele Green, NYC Dermatologist and RealSelf Contributor: “You should always consult your primary care physician before taking any supplements, but these vitamins are safe and would actually help grow your hair.” She adds, “these vitamins contain all of the essential ingredients to make hair stronger and more healthy including biotin, folic acid and Vitamin D.”  

According to Green, when it comes to vitamins, there are myriad of options available on the shelves and online.  While celebrities endorse certain supplements that are often overpriced, they often reap the same results as many other non-advertised supplements. Key ingredients in vitamins that help you look your best include Biotin, Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Iron, Magnesium and Zinc.

Body Wraps

Body wraps have long lured us with promises of a quick, painless, and affordable way lose inches and tighten skin. While an array of different brands exist, a select few shot up in popularity through aggressive marketing campaigns focused on peer-to-peer selling.

“There is no scientific evidence that body wraps burn fat,” explains Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon, Dr. Sheila Nazarian. The only way to melt fat is with diet and exercise. “The truth is, body wraps are nothing more than bandages, or sometimes clay, that are soaked in herbs,” she adds, “and while body wraps may temporarily tighten your skin, it’s not permanent.” You see, it’s not really taking off fat. It’s simply water weight, and water retention.

On RealSelf, traffic to the topic has actually decreased-down a whopping 32% compared to 2015. One possible explanation? People are starting to become more skeptical of the way they are being marketed to on Instagram and other social media channels. 

Skinny Teas + Detoxes

With a laundry list of different branded names, “skinny” teas have taken over Instagram. Celebrity endorsements include everyone from Lindsay Lohan to the cast of Vanderpump Rules, all championing product claims that include weight loss, increased energy, body detoxification, and a boosted metabolism-just to name a few.

“I would not recommend these teas for weight loss,” cautioned Dr. Sejal Shah, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. She explains that because they are considered dietary supplements by the FDA, they do not have to prove their claims nor are they obligated to warn consumers about side effects. “The companies claim their products are safe but also state that if you develop any side effects such as diarrhea or cramps to stop the tea or call your doctor, this suggests that they must anticipate that some people will experience adverse effects,” she adds.  

Senna, an ingredient in these teas, has been associated with a number of side effects some of which include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, dehydration, abdominal cramps, and muscle weakness or cramps.  It can also potentially cause electrolyte and nutrient imbalances. Also keep in mind dietary supplements may interact with other medications that you are taking. “I don’t feel that they are a healthy way to lose weight and my concern is with abuse or overusing the teas,” Sejal warns.

 Teeth Whitening

If you’re on Instagram and follow a celebrity, nearly any celebrity, you’re probably familiar with the blue-light-emitting teeth whitening kits that Ciara, Khloe Kardashian, and so many others are recommending. The light-based devices promise whiter, brighter, more beautiful teeth from the comfort of your home.

According to New York City Dentist, Dr. Victoria Veytsman, “home whitening kits do work but aren’t nearly as effective as in-office whitening procedures.” That’s because the in-office procedures use a high concentration hydrogen peroxide. This type of peroxide is more effective, but can only be used under a dentist’s supervision at the percentages necessary to whiten effectively.

Also the strength of the at-home LED light cannot duplicate that of the one used in the dentist office. The minimal amount of heat generated by these at home whitening kits may have little effect on accelerating the whitening process.People love things that are easy and less expensive. And of course, celebrity always sells! Always do your research and consult with your dentist.”

This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.
CONVERSATIONS