Open Thread: Pretty Dangerous

This is a public discussion thread for anyone on The Unpublishable mailing list — free subscribers, paid subscribers, everyone!

“Skincare Tiktok has officially lost it,” beauty influencer Minsooky tweeted the other week. Underneath the proclamation, a post from one of the platform’s many skincare obsessives, detailing why and how she’d rather risk death than risk wrinkly hands.

“The back of your hands are constantly exposed to the sun,” the TikToker wrote. “Beyond sunscreen, derms also say to seek shade and wear sun protective clothing. So what I do is wear sunscreen and put my hands at the bottom of the steering wheel so the back of my hands are facing downwards.”

Ahem. OK. Yikes.

In case you’ve managed to avoid the unrelenting SPF-shaming of the skincare space, excess sun exposure can contribute to both skin cancer and signs of “aging” — and guess which one motivates more people to wear sunscreen?

The above act is not about skin cancer prevention. It is not about preserving health or wellbeing or life. It is literally putting your life — and others’ lives! — in imminent danger (there’s a reason we drive with our hands at 9 and 3) to avoid the imagined possibility of someday, maybe having old-looking hands!! It is the DEATH DRIVE!!! (Get it???) (For context, about ~10,000 people die from skin cancer every year in the U.S., and ~40,000 die from car accidents.)(I mean, talk about anti-aging, eh?)

The situation reminds me of the time I interviewed Katherine Power — founder of Merit Beauty, Versed Skincare, and Who What Wear — and she told me Merit’s target market was women “getting ready on the go. Super busy, driven women who are, you know, doing their makeup in the car.” The minimal products were “made with efficiency in mind. The pigment levels are such that you can’t mess it up,” Power said. “That was something that was important to us … so that you could do them in your car with one hand and not mess it up.” Launching a beauty brand for time-starved women who put their safety on the line as they struggle to meet society's minimum beauty requirements behind the wheel of a 3,000-pound killing machine is... wild? sad? something that should definitely not be normalized?? I pitched an article about this called “Makeup For Girlbosses Who Can’t Drive,” but alas, the media did not want it. [Editors: DO YOU WANT THIS ARTICLE? I STILL WANT TO WRITE THIS ARTICLE!]


My question for you is: What are the weird, unexpected, unhinged-in-hindsight ways you, your friends, your family members, your coworkers, your acquaintances, your enemies, etc. have put yourselves in harm's way for beauty? Could be big (tanning beds!) or small-ish (Kylie Jenner lip challenge!), could be life-or-death (risky BBL surgery!) or just a little painful (applying Lotion P50 til your skin peels off!).

Personally, I used to be a pro at putting on mascara while going 70 down the New Jersey Parkway. My mom was a big liquid-liner-in-the-rearview gal too. A former co-worker used to order hyaluronic acid lip filler from ALIBABA.COM and INJECT HER OWN LIPS AT HOME. I also — and this is bleak — bought those banned Anna Nicole Smith Trimspa diet pills in high school.

Feel free to keep this thread as lighthearted or serious as you like. And no judgment! I’m going to consider this anecdotal research on Beauty Culture Brain :)

Aaaand… GO!