Caffeine: How Much Should You Be Drinking?

Do you find yourself reaching out for a cup of coffee to kick start your day? Do you stock up energy drinks and soft drinks with high caffeine levels to pull an all nighter for college exams? Do you follow it up with high caffeinated beverages throughout the day to stay sharp?

80% of the world’s population consumes at least one caffeinated product daily, and this number increases to 90% for adults in North America. Businesses seized the opportunity to churn out energy drinks, traditional coffee and soft drinks laden with caffeine, but what is caffeine and why is it such an indispensable part of our daily lives?

How does caffeine affect you?

Caffeine is a natural stimulant found in coffee, tea, and cacao plants, kola nuts and guarana berries. Caffeine stimulates the the brain and nervous system and keeps us awake by binding with adenosine receptors without activating them. Fun fact, adenosine receptors the brain and is the culprit of making us feel tired.

Daily dose of caffeine!

How much caffeine should you take?

According to the studies at the U.S Food & Drug Administration (FDA), caffeine can be part of a healthy diet for most people, but too much caffeine may pose dangerous effects to our health. The FDA recommends a maximum intake of 400 milligrams a day (that’s about four or five cups of coffee).

However, the amount of caffeine in beverages vary depending on the type of beans used to how the product was processed. As a general rule of thumb, the FDA compiled a rough list of reference on caffeine content in selected beverages.

  • 12 ounce can of caffeinated soft drink: 30-40mg
  • 8 ounce green or black tea: 30-50mg
  • 8 ounce coffee: 80-100mg
  • Caffeine in energy drinks per 8 ounces: Ranges from 40-250mg

FDA listed common symptoms of overconsuming coffee as :

  • insomnia
  • jitters
  • anxiousness
  • fast heart rate
  • upset stomach
  • nausea
  • headache
  • a feeling of unhappiness (dysphoria)

1Source decided to take a closer look at popular caffeinated beverages consumed by the public and empower consumers by listing out their caffeine content. Check out Caffeine Informer to find out the caffeine content in your fancy cup of coffee.

Starbucks Coffee

Starbucks coffees are ultra strong, with up to 270mg of caffeine packed into a single small cup. 2 cups and we would be over our daily limit.

McDonalds Coffee

A 12 ounce cup of McDonalds coffee contains 109mg of caffeine. Handy if you prefer something to sip on throughout the day!


A shot of espresso contains up to 71mg of caffeine. These pack a punch!

Black Tea

Contrary to popular belief, not all teas lulls us to sleep. Black tea packs about 67mg of caffeine, less than coffee or a can of Red Bull.

Red Bull

A single can of red bull contains 80mg of caffeine, which is less than a standard cup of coffee and roughly one third of the caffeine level in a 12 ounce Starbucks according to Business Insider.

Coca Cola

Caffeine in coke? What?

A can of coke contains 34mg of caffeine. Do not be fooled by the low amount, drink a few of these in a day and it all adds up!

Why You Should Avoid Protein Supplements

The popularity of protein supplements have skyrocketed over the past few years. We’ve seen the industry shift from focusing on the fitness industry to penetrating the “ordinary people” market. Our generation places a heavy emphasis on health, and companies feed into this narrative by advertising their products as ” metabolism booster”, ” organic” and ” all natural” to cater to the larger market.

According to BBC News, Wing-Co, a chocolate-flavoured high-protein drink aimed as a snack alternative for men in their 30s and 40s who “aren’t sucked in by lots of marketing rubbish“, while Upbeat drinks were promoted as a snack replacement for “post-pregnancy mums and vegetarians”. Many companies and brands have since jumped on the bandwagon to make a quick buck.

Why you should be wary of protein supplements?

Protein supplements can look pretty!

According to the National Center for Health Research, the FDA does not regulate dietary supplements under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act. Furthermore, there is no requirement that supplements should be tested to make sure they’re contents are the same as what is printed our on the ingredient label.

The Clean Label Project: Heavy metals and BPA in protein supplements

The Clean Label Project, a non profit organization, conducted an independent study on the contents of protein shakes in 53 leading brands. Their study revealed that top-selling nutritional protein powder supplement products contained heavy metals and BPA. Another shocking result from the study showed that plant-based protein powders contain higher levels of heavy metals compared to non-plant-based protein supplements.

Vanilla protein powder? YUM.

Results from the independent study as published on their page:

  • Approximately 75% protein powders contained lead. The laboratory discovered that the plant-based protein powders each contained on average twice the amount of lead per serving of other products.
  • In addition to lead, the plant-based protein powders contained mercury, cadmium and arsenic, in several cases above health-based guidelines.
  • 55% of protein powders tested had measurable levels of BPA, a known endocrine disruptor.
  • Certified organic products averaged twice as much heavy metals.
  • 10% of whey-based protein powders contained lead levels above health guidelines
  • 28 out of 134 of the protein powders contained twice the regulatory limit (3 micrograms) of BPA

Plant based protein powders were theoreticized to contain twice as much heavy metals due to the possibility of plants ingredients being grown and sourced from contaminated soil with high levels of heavy metals.

Plant based products

Other risks:

  • Milk based protein supplements may cause digestive stress to those with dairy allergies or who are lactose intolerant
  • May be high in sugar and calories, (as much as 23g per scoop), causing weight gain and spike in blood sugar levels
  • Our meals provide us with sufficient protein

The global protein supplement market size was USD 17.55 billion in 2019. With more health conscious people driving up dietary supplements sales, the market is project to expand even more. However, the lack of regulation by the FDA gives companies legal room to bypass health and safety regulations is concerning. It is imperative for us to advocate for ingredient transparency. 1Source aims to empower consumers with knowledge to make smarter purchasing decisions for the health and safety of the public.

The Dark Side of Maybelline’s Superstay Matte Lipstick

Lipsticks have evolved over decades and now it’s become an irreplaceable part of our beauty routine, be it to feel pretty or to condition lips and prevent it from chapping. Personally, I’ve never really used lipstick due to the fact that I was worried about the chemicals in lipsticks getting into my body during a meal or when I lick my lips.

I came across raving reviews and shiny posters advertising Maybelline’s Superstay Matte Lipstick which had gained a cult like following from women from all walks of life. Many claimed they only had to touch up their lips once a day and that it remained on their lips for a very long time. Was this it? Is this product the solution for not ingesting as much lipstick?

Maybeline’s Superstay matte lipstick features:

  • Stays on for 16+ hours
  • Does not smudge on masks

I decided to verify this product myself and vlogged myself using the product for a few days. I was still iffy about putting it on my lips so I swatched in on my arm. True to its claim, it stayed on for more than 5 days through various showers and washes. In fact, it stayed on so long and effectively that a Superstay remover was needed specifically to remove the product. Using common make up removers just doesn’t cut it. Check out this video snippet featuring 1Source’s resident pharmaceutical chemist, to learn more!

Snippet of video:

Why does this specific brand stay on for so long?

C30-45 Alkyldimethylsilyl Polypropylsilsesquioxane is a long, synthetic hydrocarbon chain specially designed to replicate wax for long lasting lipstick.

Why does only a special type of make up remover work?

The longer the hydrocarbon chain, the more non-polar a compound is. As C30-45 Alkyldimethylsilyl Polypropylsilsesquioxane is a fairly long compound, it requires a similarly long hydrocarbon solvent, such as Octyldodecanol to dissolve or remove it. Common make-up wipes / removers tend to consist of short hydrocarbon chains, like ethanol, which are ineffective.

A closer look at ingredient components:

I use ingredient analyzers to vet the safety of my products and a quick search on the 1Source database yielded a detailed list of ingredients in the product. I was shocked to learn that a number of products were rated 7 and above, meaning toxic if ingested and swallowed on the Potential Risk Index, and that up to two ingredients were banned in some countries.

Ingredients banned in certain parts of the world:

Colorant: Red 22 Lake; CI 45380

Colorants are pigments or dyes that are added in order to change or enhance the color. This particular colorant, Red 22 Lake, has been prohibited by the European Commission for use in cosmetic products, particularly hair dye products. *For the sake of consumer safety, 1Source interprets and extends this to all cosmetic applications.

PRI for Phenoxyethanol

Preservative: Phenoxyethanol

Infamous in the cosmetic industry for being a preservative and disinfectant, the overall rating for phenoxyethanol is 4, however it is very damaging towards aquatic life, hence earning it a 10 in environment.

This ingredient, also found in Kylie Skin, is an environmental pollutant chemical toxic to sea creatures. The Republic of Palau has since issued a new law that banned sunscreen products containing phenoxyethanol since January 2020.

Seeing as how certain ingredients have a high rating on the Potential Risk Index, I feel uneasy about using this line of lipsticks. Yes, its long lasting and anti smudge features are attractive, meaning less of it will be consumed, however, ingredients are banned for a reason, and personally, I would not want them in my body at all.

Why is My Eczema Getting Worse During Lock-down?

Evaluative Thinking: The Heart of (Meaningful, Useful) Evaluation - The  IllumiLab

It has been a rough 2020 for us, with our Eczema flaring up more often during the lockdown caused by the pandemic Coronavirus. Many of us have flocked onto social media to voice our discomfort, trying to find answers to our problems.

What is the Cause?

The answer to the question everybody wants to know, what is the cause of my flare ups again? We need to take in consideration how much has changed in our daily routine. Before we start considering what may of been the trigger for our lock-down flare ups, we should write a before and after list.

Before and After List

The first thing we should we do is write down what we used to do in our daily routine before the lockdown. This should be detailed, as the more information you have to work with, the more chance of finding a solution. We should consider every aspect of our lives. Here are a few things that we can note down:

  • Our diet
  • Physical exercise/activity
  • What products we use on our body
  • Products used around the house

For our after list, we should note the changes of what we wrote in the before page/column. We should also note down the following:

  • New products introduced because of lockdown
  • Any changes in our usage/dosage of products

Compare the two lists. You should notice that a lot of things have changed, meaning that the cause of your flare ups can be a number of reasons. We must recognise that at this current time, our skin just cannot cope with all these sudden changes over a prolonged time. It was used to a set routine that we need to get back to.

Hand Sanitizers

Since the spike of cases around the world, the demand for cleaning products are at an all time high. Hand sanitizers and soaps were the first two cleaning products to be sold out in shops because of the transmission of diseases through hands. We use our hands all the time and we simply don’t know what we are truly touching.

All Eczema sufferers know that we need to be very careful when trying out new products. We all stocked up on any hand sanitizer we can get our hands on and didn’t take note of what is actually in the bottle.

Harmful Hand Sanitizers
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An example of why we should be checking hand sanitizer ingredients before applying them onto our skin is Dial Antibacterial Hand Sanitizer.

It has a number of alarming ingredients. Diazolidinylurea can function as an antimicrobial preservative that actively kills and inhibits the growth of unwanted microorganisms which may be harmful. It has the safety hazard of causing allergic skin reactions and has potential health concerns for dermatitis and eczema users.

Another harmful ingredient in the product is another antimicrobial preservative called methylparaben. It is is an interesting ingredient as it is now banned in Palau due to the damages it can cause to coral reefs. If it can cause long lasting damages to the aquatic wildlife, the question is, what kind of damage can do to our skin? It has the safety hazards of skin irritation and potential health concerns for dermatitis.

Home Environment

With the deep concern of how easily the virus can spread, it has caused an uproar in excessive cleaning. Eczema is not compatible with cleaning products. Coming in contact with these products will cause irritation. Use gloves and ensure you don’t overdo it.

Although on the other end of the spectrum, we might not be cleaning enough! Since we are staying in one environment, we need to make sure that our surroundings are clean. We need to consider what is being contained in your living quarters. For myself, cleaning the house top to bottom gives me great satisfaction and puts my mind at ease. A healthy mind will lead to healthy skin!

Over Hand Washing
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We have all been recommended to wash our hands more (I hope you have been doing so). In our household we probably wash our hands more than ever before. Eczema users know that we need non fragrant soap with the most natural ingredients possible. Though there is a deeper trigger.

Continually washing our hands constantly can reactivate dormant eczema. Our skin has natural barriers and oils which over washing with soaps strips off. Breaking down the barriers can result in more water loss through the outer layers of the skin. Dryness and cracking with the possible risk of infection are caused through excessive washing.


Skin thrives off humidity. If you haven’t got a good flow of air, then you must consider getting a humidifier. Eczema can suffer in dry environments so you must consider if you need a humidifier to increase the moisture in the air, especially if you are not getting enough natural air circulation.

Over Applying Creams

One of the BIGGEST problems we have when at home and fighting flare ups. We can’t do the things we want to do, so we apply more cream. DO NOT go over the recommended dosages for any kind of creams. Keep a consistent skincare routine.

What can we do?

We need to try and get back to the routine before the pandemic as quickly as possible. Recognise the changes and sudden urge to splash products on yourself. Take time to analyse the products you are using by checking their ingredients.

If you need to analyse products, I highly suggest using as they decode and analyse products for you by simply searching their database on their website or scanning the bar code through their app!

6 Eczema Myths

Eczema is a skin condition that has many sufferers in the world. Over 10% of the population in United States have it. Patches of skin can be itchy, inflamed, cracked and rough. There is a lot to be learned on the condition, but what are the myths of Eczema?

1. Eczema can be cured

The solution that every Eczema sufferer is looking for, is Eczema curable? As a longtime sufferer, I have been searching, researching, looking, you name it for this solution. Unfortunately, the answer is… there is no cure for eczema.

BUT it can be managed! Luckily for myself I got to that stage through trial and error. In rare cases you can grow out of it, but every Eczema case is different. One of the best ways to manage Eczema is finding an ointment that is compatible and is able to get rid of the irritants that you have.

Don’t know if the product you are using is good or not? Check our product reviews or use 1Source to decode the ingredients for you!

2. Eczema is contagious

Bizarrely, this myth is one of the most common! As a kid I remember getting ask this a lot. If you touch Eczema, can you catch it? If you live with somebody with Eczema, will you get it eventually?

Despite the exact cause of Eczema is still largely unknown, it is believed to do with genes, allergens, and environmental factors. It is NOT contagious, it is a genetic condition. Although, Eczema can spread infection through severe cases.

3. If you have Eczema, your child will get it

A family member having Eczema can increase the possibility of getting Eczema. There is an 80% chance of a child having Eczema if both of the parents have it. There are many types of Eczemas which do not entirely relate to genes.

I fall into the category of inheriting from my mother. Guess I didn’t beat the odds!

4. Eczema will disappear on its own

I wish. Oh how I wish! Treating Eczema with ointments is an effective way of preventing it from becoming more severe. With no treatment, Eczema can get more inflamed, leading to scratching and bacterial infections.

Eczema cannot clear up on its own. It is only possible if you are using skin oils, creams or medication that is used to help the symptoms.

5. Eczema is a disease for children

As mentioned before, you do not grow out of Eczema. It is a big misconception that it is only a skin condition for children. Babies can get atopic dermatitis, a type of Eczema. As we grow grow older, we can develop other types of Eczema.

If you don’t believe adults can get Eczema, then check out the Eczema Stories! There are many online communities connecting adult Eczema sufferers, sharing their experiences. I highly recommend you go to Reddit to find the Eczema community, as many tell their own story with no judgement.

6. Eczema is nothing

This one is the hardest to deal with. Many people believe that Eczema is not a big deal. I am sure most Eczema sufferers have heard the terms:

  • don’t scratch!
  • why don’t you try…
  • stop doing…

We have heard it all! Eczema not only affects our physical skin, but it also has a HUGE impact on our mental health. The most common symptom is an intense itch which can become uncontrollable. Excessive scratching can lead to bleeding, then to infection.

The problem Eczema sufferers face is that it cannot be cured. There is no quick fix and every case is different.

For more information on Eczema, I highly recommend going to the prime source, the National Eczema Association.

Press: Interview with Headline Daily HK

English translation of Cantonese interview with Headline Daily.

The outbreak of the novel coronavirus serves as a catalyst for everyone to start paying more attention to their personal health. 1Source, a “locally born” ingredient analyzer platform was created to allow consumers to understand the chemical ingredients in various products and inform them of potential health risks.  The platform harbours an impressive list of 150,000 product ingredients in both English and Chinese, two primary languages favored in Hong Kong. 

頭條日報 – 訪問產品成分解碼平台《1Source》創辦人游斌。 黃頌偉攝(Pix By : Wong Chung Wai) 2020/08/18 港聞

Russell Yau discovered the need for an ingredient analyzer platform while working at Sunkids, a kindergarten his wife founded. Many of his students suffered from eczema. It was one fateful skincare lecture to the students’ parents that made Russell acknowledge the big gap in the market and inspired him to invest millions to establish a health information platform. In the early days of 1Source’s conception, his team spent a year simply collecting medical information and processing massive amounts of chemical data. He also partnered with various doctors, chemists, information technologists, and other professionals and finally launched a mobile app and website in 2018 and 2019, respectively. 

1Source is both a website and a free mobile app. Users can analyze their products by scanning the barcode on the product packaging or photographing the ingredient label and uploading it on the platform to get a detailed analysis in real time. The platform evaluates the health impacts of each chemical compound in 4 major categories: inhalation, swallowing, skin exposure and environment. The associated Potential Risk IndexⓇ is being calculated with the relevant scientific and medical data and churns out a number from 1 to 10, the higher the score the more dangerous. Products and ingredients rated 4 or below are generally safe while ingredients in products rated 10 are banned by a government entity, or being classified as carcinogens by the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer(IARC).

The application system also features personalized functions. When looking for products, users can use the product screening engine to filter products according to one’s personal health conditions. The user only needs to enter his personal health status in the “Settings” field, and when searching in the future, the system will remind the user which ingredients may not be suitable for them. 

If users are unable to find the products they are looking for, users are invited to upload their products to the database. The founder hopes that more companies will use its product screening engine in the future so that consumers can be empowered to make smarter and more meaningful purchasing decisions.