Over the course of the pandemic, people have found new ways to keep their mental health intact — whether that means working out, journaling, or going on a Zoom call with friends. One such self-care routine is cooking. Of course, this is no surprise, as a full stomach can do wonders for elevating your mood. However, CNN notes that the act of cooking itself has therapeutic benefits as well. We list down a few of them below:
It gives you an achievable goal.
According to the Society of Clinical Psychology, behavioral action refers to “increasing patients’ contact with sources of reward” by exposing them to doable tasks that make them feel more accomplished. It’s one of the reasons ticking boxes off a checklist feels so satisfying — and cooking for mental wellness works in much the same way. The various activities associated with cooking, from dicing veggies to washing the dishes, all offer you a sense of control — which is something that’s sorely needed as the world navigates through COVID-19. When you’re focused on an achievable reward — a homemade meal, in this case — it’s easier to reduce procrastination and stay on track with your mental health.
It promotes mindfulness.
There’s a certain meditative quality in repetition that encourages mindfulness, and this includes the attendant chores of cooking. At its core, cooking is a ritual that gives you the opportunity to be present, appreciative and nonjudgmental. Focusing on your inner dialogue and the actual experience of cooking allows you to forget about your problems, if only for a moment. With that said, mindfulness is a muscle that needs to be practiced, and cooking is one good way to do that.
It helps you attain other fitness milestones.
Fast food culture has become prevalent around the world thanks to an increasingly busy workforce. But though fast food can be convenient, eating fatty, sodium-laden foods will eventually take a toll on your physical and mental health. Instead, make it a habit to cook your meals for the week ahead of schedule. This will not only give you full control over your nutrition needs, but will also free you up to do other self-care tasks like exercising and meditation.
To make meal prep easier, use multifunctional appliances. For example, you can use tools like the Braun FP3020 food processor to whip up a smoothie or shred some lettuce for a salad. Meanwhile, an Aroma rice cooker is great for cooking quinoa, rice, and even vegetables — all in one pot. With all this said, taking charge of your meals will make you healthier, both inside and out, so make meal prepping a part of your routine.
It engages the senses directly.
We’ve all been forced to stay at home because of the pandemic, which means we’ve had little to no sensory stimulation all this time. When this happens, everyday living becomes drudgery; you’re basically going through the motions with little reward. Cooking, however, can serve as a remedy, as it directly engages the pleasure centers of your brain through the sights, smells, and tastes of home-cooked meals. This gives you the mental health boost you need to take on other activities.
It allows you to flex your creative muscle.
A report on Bloomberg notes that individuals who engaged in artistic activities reported lower rates of depression and greater life satisfaction. Indeed, everyone, no matter how artistically challenged, must have a creative pursuit in order to live a holistic life. For some, cooking fulfills that need. True enough, experimenting with recipes, ingredients, and cooking methods are also one form of self-expression that can bring you joy and a sense of fulfillment.
Having been contributing to the 1Source blog, the platform has introduced me to the deeper side of the beauty industry, especially as a skincare junkie, I became more aware about the ingredients that I put onto my skin.
Using 1Source upload / scan, the revelation of ingredients leaves a long lasting impression about a product I use. And it certainly becomes disappointing when a product I really like has suspicious toxic chemicals.
Common toxic chemicals I find in good products are Phenoxyethanol and suspicious Colorants.
Example: Phenoxyethanol – How I personally use the app
To clarify, Phenoxyethanol is not a ‘bad’ chemical in skincare products. It’s a ‘great’ preservative and the best, for now – it replaced Formaldehyde, which to me looks like a sign that cosmetic brands are regularly finding / forming better and advanced chemicals for us.
Here is an excerpt of what Paula’s Choice (skincare and makeup focused site) had to say about Phenoxyethanol
‘Phenoxyethanol is a widely used synthetic preservative that has global approval for use in all cosmetic products in concentrations up to 1%’
‘The rest of the alarming studies are about using phenoxyethanol in full-strength or atypically high concentrations, not the amounts of 1% or less used in cosmetic products. Think of it as the difference between taking one sip of wine versus chugging several bottles at once!’
Hence approving and debunking the demonization of Phenoxyethanol.
However, the information 1Source Ingredients that provide about Phenoxyethanol should also not be ignored. As a science focused ingredient analyzer, 1Source’s ingredient information tab provides a summary of the ingredients and corresponding it to the potential risk index (PRI)
1Source’s PRI of Phenoxyethanol
Overall Phenoxyethanol has a rating of 5
‘Some blogs may claim that there is a link to ovarian cancer but the correlation has yet to be accepted by the scientific community as definitive…An alternative to formaldehyde-releasing preservatives’
And in the recent findings section. It has warnings and summary of scientific discoveries of the chemical, for example suggesting to not use it for new born babies and informing the ecotoxicity of the chemical.
Overall, the EU SCCS has classified phenoxyethanol as safe for use as a preservative with a maximum concentration of 1.0%. However, care should still be taken when using products with phenoxyethanol, given its potential as a skin irritant.’
So that’s how I use the 1Source app/site, it provides information that I find skincare focused sites seem to lack. I don’t only want to know if it would be good or bad for my skin. I want to know why it would be good or bad. I also like to know about the background of the ingredient more as a chemical substance rather than a name in an ingredient label on the back of a packaging. That, to me, is conscious buying.
I am in no way calling out other sites or am comparing 1Source to Paula’s Choice. Paula’s Choice is indeed reliable and informative, and of course, I will use it when it comes to choosing makeup and skincare products, as I use 1Source as well.
The Conspiracy of non-regulated chemicals
A few days ago, I came across a tiktok (unfortunately, I can’t find it anymore) where a user shows a list of chemicals that are banned in the EU for food / cosmetic uses that are fine in the USA.
From what I remember, he points out that the overall health of the European population tends to be better than that of the US is because the FDA is not as strict as the EU consumer regulations. He added that the reason is because unlike Europe which has freer healthcare and is seen like a social welfare, health care in the US is an economy or to be more accurate, a business of its own. The conspiracy is that if the unhealthy and toxic chemicals are banned, there would be less patients which threatens the economy of the country.
Though, convincing. It doesn’t explain why some EU banned chemicals are in Hong Kong stores when public healthcare in Hong Kong is more similar to the EU rather than the USA.
According to Oliver Milman on the Guardian, In cosmetics alone, the EU has banned or restricted more than 1,300 chemicals while the US has outlawed or curbed just 11.
Milman: ‘The clout of powerful industry interests, combined with a regulatory system that demands a high level of proof of harm before any action is taken, has led to the American public being routinely exposed to chemicals that have been rubbed out of the lives of people in countries such as the UK, Germany and France.’
From this article, Asbestos was used as an example of the poor regulatory system of the US. ‘Asbestos exposure has long been known to cause deaths and illnesses but the substance is still not banned in the US. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) attempted to do so in 1989 only to be overturned by the federal court following a backlash from manufacturers.’
In 1source, all types of Asbestos are labeled as a hazard. This substance has been classified as a Group 1 carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
As much as it is fun to entertain the conspiracy. The fact is that the FDA in the USA is limited by law. According to them: FDA does not have the legal authority to approve cosmetics before they go on the market, although we do approve color additives used in them (except coal tar hair dyes)… FDA can take action against a cosmetic on the market if we have reliable information showing that it is adulterated or misbranded.
As I read this, I realized that it isn’t just makeup or skincare products that is not strictly checked. This applies to tattoo inks as they are categorized as cosmetics to the FDA too. The pattern becomes more apparent. ‘A report by Bioelements and Health Unit Italian Ministry for Health Roma categorized the heavy metals into different colorants and their health effects were reported to vary from mild irritations to harming of the brain.’
Products I use that I found to have ‘toxic’ or banned chemicals
Disclaimer: this section of the article is to show the products that I used that surprised me with it’s ingredient compounds. The performance and my “love” for the product has no relevance to this section.
Comparing my consumer behavior now to before, it’s empowering to see how more aware I became with the products I use. Buying consumer goods is in my power even if I am to choose to buy a product with a chemical to look out for, I would at least know now.
Originally celebrated in Ancient Rome, Valentine’s day, was practiced in a very-extremely-different-bloody way. Before continuing to the topic of the article. Here is an interesting historical lesson on how Valentine’s Day came to be.
(St.) Valentine’s Day replaced the Pegan festival of love and fertility (Lupercalia). The Romans celebrated the holiday drunk and naked, sacrificing a goat and a dog, hitting women with the hide of the dead animals as a ritual to bless them with fertility. Then when Rome converted to Catholicism, they replaced the Pegan name to Valentine in honor of St. Valentine(s), who were ordered to be killed by a Pegan Emperor (Emperor Claudius II) on February 14 (in different years).
Though there were three well known Valentines during those days (who were all martyred). The true origin cannot be accurately pinpointed. However, there are two theories of how their names became honored for the day of love.
Emperor Claudius II thought that marriage – having a family in general made men bad soldiers. Therefore, he banned it for young men. Valentine the priest was against this, he proceeded to marry couples in secret. When the Emperor found out, he was sentenced to be killed. However, some believe this missionary was the act of St. Valentine of Terni the bishop, who was also killed by the Emperor.
2. From Your Valentine
When it was illegal to be Christian. A Valentine helped Christians to escape prison, unfortunately, he got sent in. He fell in love with the jailor’s daughter who visits him. Before he was sent to be martyred. He wrote a letter for her, signed with ‘From Your Valentine’
Love Potions: Magic or Chemistry?
According to Elite Daily, Ancient Greeks grounded up orchids into a fine powder and put it in wine for consumption, they did it as a charm for lovers. The Center of Research of Reproduction and Contraception (CRRC) mentioned that the significance of using orchids as an ingredient when it came to ritualistic practice surrounding love has its roots from the Greek physician, Dioscorides. He believed that the orchid plant influenced sexuality, probably because of its erotic appearance. Ever since, the Greeks used orchids as a symbolism of love, sex, fertility and so on.
Therefore, orchids have been used as an Aphrodisiac.
How Aphrodisiac works
Aphrodisiac: substances derived from plants, spices, foods, synthetic ‘chemicals’ that increases sexual desire, sexual pleasure, or sexual behavior.
The International Journal of Impotence Research has done a study on aphrodisiacs as a ‘herbal drug’. It was found that the orchid species, Vanda tessellata and Trichopus zylanicus stimulated ‘mounting behavior of male mice’ and increased the ‘mating performance in mice’.
Other than that, reports also showed that ‘plant has anti inflammatory, antiarthritic, antimicrobial, antipyretic and wound-healing properties’
From this research, Nitric Oxide (NO) has vasodilation (widening of blood vessels) and penile erection functions. NO activates ‘guanylate cyclase and thereby increases the levels of cyclic GMP (cGMP)’ In simpler terms, it means NO stimulates the production of cGMP, the thing that relaxes smooth muscle tissues – thus in blood vessels, increasing blood flow due to vasodilation, by interacting with the lyase enzyme, guanylate cyclase.
The researchers added: ‘The herbal drug appears to be useful for developing as an attractive alternative to Viagra…in this study, a novel aphrodisiac compound…was discovered from an orchid, V. tessellata …The finding has the potential to develop a valuable medicine for sexual dysfunction or erectile dysfunction.’
But why is Aphrodisiac is not exactly recognized by Science?
In an interview on Sunday Morning, Meryl Rosofsky, a physician who teaches food studies at New York University, said ‘Aphrodisiacs are bounded only by our imaginations’.
In the Middle Ages when superstitions and religious philosophy ruled the country, Law of Similarity was theorized and took over how people perceived material terrestrial things. The Law of Similarity is a philosophy that the appearance and design of a natural object represents its God-intended function. ‘If something looked virile and phallic and strong and erect, that it might confer those very properties on whoever consumed it…’
For example, Aphrodisiac got its name from Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of Love. She is illustrated as a God who sprung out of an oyster shell, hence oysters became a common aphrodisiacal food.
Quentin Wheeler on the Guardian, who specializes in articles about biological discoveries – New to Nature, had written a piece about another species of orchid. In it, they ended it with ‘Certain orchid tubers are shaped like testicles, and it has been long claimed that, when consumed, they are an aphrodisiac. This is, of course, a load of bollocks’
Love in a bottle?
Potions have been around for a long time, we can see this in folk-literature, paintings and even in religious texts. Philter, is a specific name for love potions. During Old English times, potions were on the market sold by Quack doctors. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, Quackery means ‘medical methods that do not work and are only intended to make money’. As Pharmaceutical Journal explains, people visited these ‘doctors’ because pills looked mysterious and suspicious.
Witchcraft was once fear mongered. According to the UK Parliament, A Witchcraft Act was passed in 1542 to criminalize witchcraft. Between 1560 – 1700, 513 witches were put on trial and 112 were executed (that was known).
Today Witchcraft has its own media, lineage and career. Vice produced an insightful documentary about witchery today, ‘Witchcraft in Romania‘. The documentary goes as correspondent Milène Larsson visiting the town of Mogosoaia, to brew a love potion, a curse, watch an exorcism and celebrate the Summer Solstice, where witches predicts the future.
(If you watch the video, the predictions oddly came true, whether it be coincidence or not)
In Mogosoaia, there lives one of the most famous and respected witches of Romania, Mihaela Minca, daughter of Bratara Buzea, another powerful witch known to be jailed by Communist dictator Ceausescu during the 70s. Today, she is free and feared by politicians. As part of the witch clan, Minca passes down her legacy to her daughters. It is safe to say, witchcraft in Romania will stay for now.
When it comes to Love Potions, there is a specific time and ritual they practice. The Witches only have one chance to brew the love potion every year, as it is only done on the day of the Christian Pentecost festival. The witches go to the meadows and pick traditional plants and herbs, when they pick them they say a specific beautiful chant : Just like these flowers are proud, seen, beautiful and sought after, may it be the same with love and happiness. God bless, may it be so!
After picking them, they go back to the brewing area and boil the plants till the sap excretes from them which then turns to a potion. To use the potion, the person makes a cross sign on their forehead in the morning before sunrise.
Witchcraft in the Modern World?
Larsson asks Bratara : Are you worried about modern times will change this ancient craft?
Bratara responds enthusiastically: On the contrary, it’ll make it known world wide that our power exists.
When Bratara said this, I immediately understood what she meant. Information about witchery is very much accessible today on the internet, just from searching ‘How to make a Love Potion?’ results of Youtube videos of witchcraft tutorials show up. In addition, TikTok, the new and extremely influential platform has a whole community of witches – WitchTok, where witches educate, practice and interact with one another. Likewise, Pinterest has a fair share of witch content, from infographics to video tutorials.
When Love Potions killed a King
It is important to note that there are many types of witchery, Christian rooted, Wiccan, Spiritual or what I’m most familiar with, Buddhist ritualistic practices. Therefore, rituals are different. For example, scouring through the internet, common items when making love potions are rose quartz, apples and an oil. Compared to the Romanian Christian witches who were mentioned, the main ingredient is the sap of some plants.
In Ancient Greece, the Spanish Fly was used to make Love Potions. According to HistoryExtra, the fly would be crushed along with other herbs into a tonic. The results would be a warmth feeling, however, they added it was most likely inflammation rather than desire, because after all, the fly is toxic. The insect excrete a toxic blistering agent called Cantharidin, causing inflammation and blisters.
If you ever heard of the Catholic Monarchs, then you might know of Ferdinand II of Aragon and his Queen, Isabella I of Castile. They are called the Catholic Monarchs because their marriage joined the unification of Spain. The King reigned from 1475 – 1504, his death – theorized to be an effect of drinking many potions containing the Spanish Fly.
While others believed to be just a cause of a possible heart disease – Researchers from ‘The end of a myth: clinical causes of the death of Fernando el Católico’
Magic or Chemistry, the point is still Love
Overall, whatever you believe about Love. 2021 Valentine’s Day will be different. Perhaps some couples would have ZOOM dinners, family members sending love hearts over WhatsApp, or spending it with yourself at home. The article shows how humanity levels out the importance of Love. From Scientists experimenting and researching on the ‘love chemicals’ in our brain, to people relying on the meta-physical world. Love is valuable.
In celebration of Black History Month, let’s explore how the Black Community has shaped the fashion & beauty world!
The Black Cosmetics Pioneer – Annie Turnbo Malone
Malone was considered to be one of the first African American women who earned her millionaire status in the US. She was born in Illinois, by the age of 20, she used her chemistry knowledge to form her first shampoo and scalp treatment. Her product became a success in 1902
Distribution Channels were not accessible to Black people during Malone’s days. She sold her products with her assistant by going door-to-door. And the product started to get the buzz as it spotted a gap in the market: although there were commercial shampoos targeted towards this niche, it was the only product to straighten the natural curly texture of Black hair without damaging it.
She expanded her business, thus naming it Poro Products. It later became a National brand after the 1904 World’s Fair, a large international exhibition showcase. In 1918, she built a factory and a cosmetology school, Poro College. She stayed in business after a divorce and the great depression. While doing so, she contributed and helped a lot of charities throughout her lifetime.
And it must be known, she was the employer of the famous Black entrepreneur and activist, Madam CJ Walker. Today, her legacy is still on Earth, as the St. Louis Colored Orphans Home.
Whether you heard it or not, Roberts had popularized this routine to the world of the skincare junkies. The rules of this ‘Free.99’ routine are simply cleansing your face with your fingers. She explains that the average person only spends 15-20 seconds washing their face, it is not enough for your cleanser to battle your skin concerns. This routine helps the face by improving the texture of the face, cleaning the pores and promoting circulation. The #60secondrule has been proven to be a must-do step by people’s reviews and reactions online!
Reviews on Twitter:
@if_iknewbetter: Not to be dramatic but the 60 seconds rule saved my skin in a week @LaBeautyologist
@skincare_hub: •Wear SPF everyday whether you’re going out or not. •Know your skintype and ingredients that work best for you and stick to it. •Double cleanse at night always using @labeautyologist 60 seconds rule. •Use witch hazel ONLY when you’re wearing makeup •Silk pillow case 24/7
Y2K, or The Year 2000, was a colorful and fun time. NOT! The reason why people started expressing experimentalism and creativity in the beauty world and what not was because of a massive scare, caused by a computer bug. People thought that the world was going to end.
According to National Geographic, the Y2K bug caused a global panic because computers were not able to interpret dates beyond December 31, 1999. Only the last two digits of the year would represent the years. So when January 1, 2000 was coming, it could have turned to January 1, 1999. This was a problem to businesses like banks, technology centers, power plants and transportations e.t.c people believed that the computer crash was going to cause an apocalypse.
Now back to the beauty world. Y2K was everything, if it wasn’t girly – it was boyish, if it wasn’t baggy – it was skimpy, if it wasn’t metallic – it was vibrant, if it wasn’t cyber – it was street!
Jackie Aina, a Nigerian-American Youtube Star on her video, Things Black Culture Popularized, explains how the Black community started the Y2K fashion wave.
“right now something that is very very very popular that I’m actually really here for is the Y2K aesthetic…” at 3:50
What was it like to be wearing Y2K? It was never praised like today, in fact, according to Rashida Renée on ELLE, who explains that celebrities like Lil’ Kim, Mariah Carey and Foxy Brown were always criticized and labeled as ‘Worst Dressed’, while the ‘proper’ dresses were ‘Best Dressed’ on the runway. Interestingly, the Instagram engagement that the ‘worst dressed’ red carpet walkers had was better.
What is Y2K now? Resurrected – – Well it was never dead. The article mentioned above got me reminiscing from my childhood. Then I remembered these iconic looks that has a special place in my memory:
So Y2K stayed but it wasn’t called Y2K anymore, the different looks started to have its own names, during the 2010s, they were called Tomboy, Preppy, Hip-Hop and whatnot. Today, the trendiest look names are E-Girl/Boy, VSCO, Art Hoe, Soft Girl/Boy and…………….. Y2K.
Y2K today is not as versatile as before, now it has a specific look. It’s fun, cool and retro.
Honorable mentions from Aina’s video:
Styling of baby hairs
Super long nails
Also from Aina’s video at 14:08, “Another painfully obvious thing that black people didn’t even intentionally make popular, we just existed, our big lips.”
Big Lips, or more popularly known as, the ‘Kylie Jenner’ Lips. It took the beauty world to another turn like when thick bushy eyebrows dethroned the thin eyebrows trend, also popularized by another black woman, Diana Ross. The 70s Diana Ross eyebrows flipped the game, even though the 80s went back to being thick and bushy like the 60s, the 90s turned back time and made brows thin again!
The Big Lips trend was a big ‘culture’ change. More people began to get lip injections and overline their lips in their makeup routines. A study conducted by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), shows an increase in lip augmentation procedures. The statistics report shows the difference of lip augmentation procedures done between the year 2000 and 2019. In 2000, only 18,589 procedures were done. And in 2019, a whopping increase, 31,789 procedures took place! Why? It’s a safe bet that ever since Kylie Jenner posted her selfie in 2014 with plumper lips, and coming clean about them in an episode of Life of Kylie, that she was getting her lips done, the influence started flooding the world… while black people…have natural big lips…which were unlikeable???
Aina pointed out the irony of the Big Lip trend. Before the acceptance of big lips, they were once ridiculed for. Not only are big lips now a trend, it has become part of someone’s career.
Black people getting ridiculed for having big lips is not just a story about being bullied, it has a dark history. Minstrel shows, a form of racist ‘entertainment’, where an actor performed in a way that was dehumanizing and mocking of black people, in black face. An obvious feature to these shows are the overlining of the lips representing the ‘lips’ of a black person.
The term ‘Kylie Jenner’ Lips proves what Jackie Aina mean: ‘the regurgitating of things that naturally come to us, and rebranding it, packaging it, selling it, making a career out of it, commodifying it basically where for us it’s a weapon, it’s a tool, it’s a flaw.’
How Lip Augmentation works?
Also known as lip fillers, this procedure is quick and simple. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), the key ingredient to lip augmentation is Hyaluronic Acid (HA). Polyacrylamide is also available, but it is less common because it may cause granuloma. We ourselves have HA in our body, but overtime, the lip loses volume because of age, sun exposure and more. The purpose of the HA in lip fillers is to replace the HA that was lost.
The beauty industry is one of the biggest industries in the market. According to Statista, in the year 2019, the beauty industry earned a revenue of USD49.2 billion in the United States alone! For such a universal market, the beauty industry still fails to cater to people of color. This includes: foundation, lipstick, eyeshadows – basically, everything.
Fenty Beauty is a cosmetics brand that was launched back in the year 2017 by mega star Rihanna. When the brand launched, the foundation caught the most attention, not of it’s formula, packaging or whatsoever, it was the shade range which consisted of 40 colors (now 50), covering not only the light skinned, but also the darker skinned. It is almost satirical that 2017 would be the year people became more conscious about foundation shades that are lacking. Not saying that Fenty was the first brand to make foundation for POCs, but rather, it offered more. The brand didn’t just offer a ‘dark’ color, the brand closely looked into making shades with different undertones – because not everyone is warm, or neutral, or cool toned.
So why is it so hard to have darker shades? It’s not. According to Al-Nisa Ward, the owner and president of Cosmetic Science Innovations who appeared on Vox, said that the claim of product development for dark shades being more difficult is false. She explains, foundations have the same base formulas, the difference between shades is just up to the differing of ratios in pigments. There are 4 basic pigments in foundations – Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxide Red, Iron Oxide Yellow, Iron Oxide Black.
PAT McGRATH Labs
PAT McGRATH Labs is a cosmetic brand that was founded in 2016 by the legendary makeup artist Pat McGrath. She is known for her experimentalism with bold colors and materials like feathers and gold leafs.
The makeup line is known for its luxurious packaging, shiny shimmers, pigmented lipsticks and more. McGrath appeared in an interview with Guardian writer Sali Hughes. “…a lot of the time when you buy a normal shadow, it doesn’t always work on every skin tone – it’s chalky or too light – so that’s my main aim, to bring makeup for all skin tones to the fore.” She told Hughes, ‘there was no makeup for women of color…NOTHING”
McGrath does not only bring inclusivity when it comes to race. She works with everyone, like men, drag queens and plus size people. To her, “It’s about pushing boundaries. I believe absolutely, the world wants something different, people want back their individuality.”
Beauty Bakerie is an indie cosmetics brand founded in 2011 by Cashmere Nicole. The indie brand is known for it’s cute and ‘yummy’ theme. Where products are designed or inspired by foods found in bakeries, like cartons of eggs, flour bags or utensils.
After surviving breast cancer. Nicole became more health conscious and looked closely what ingredients are in the beauty products people put on everyday. She developed the brand to be cruelty-free and vegan. In addition, in 2016, Beauty Bakerie became associated with Sugar Homes, which donates money, clothes, toys and more to orphanages. Their journey has helped children from Uganda, Indonesia and Zanzibar.
For such a fan favorite brand, it wasn’t an easy journey for Nicole. According to an interview with Aimee Simeon in Refinery29, Nicole observed that the beauty industry was focused on ‘self’, she thought, approaching the cosmetics business with ‘thinking about others’ would be the right way for her.
Apart from cancer, raising a daughter by herself, and investing into the side-business. Being a black entrepreneur was not going to be easy, “I’ve learned that being Black and running an indie brand is extremely tough. As a child, I remember hearing that you have to work twice as hard when you’re Black — and now I know that it’s true.” However, Nicole never gave up, her constant perseverance and hard work had brought her to where she is today. A successful strong Black businesswoman.
Why is being a black entrepreneur hard?
According to Devin Dixon, Black entrepreneurs lack access to ‘people, education, opportunity, and capital’. Dixon, who started being an entrepreneur at the age of 18 and the journey was hard. He recalls to a moment when he was advised by a Black business leader to have a White man become the face of the company, this was shocking. Dixion pointed out that this type of idea is part of the problem and plays into the narrative that Black people are not collaborative or don’t work.
Systematic racism in society is still very apparent. And it is a reason why being not only a Black entrepreneur, also in general, Black is hard. There is lack of safety when it comes to being a Black entrepreneur. Jumping to being a business owner or CEO is risky, the access to important materials makes it harder to obtain. “For example…these top execs have strong ties to the top schools such as Stanford or Harvard. Given that top schools tend to only have about a 5% black population, we have less access to powerful networks.”Video by Sam Dey about being a Black entrepreneur.
Video by Sam Dey about being a Black entrepreneur:
2:05 ‘One thing I noticed about these events is that the Black race are underrepresented at the majority of these events…’
6:06 ‘Particularly in the UK, young black males are seen as a certain way, whether we like it or not, we are often portrayed as trouble makers because of the way we are depicted in the news….’
Support the Black Community
As we observed, it is acknowledged that the Black community has contributed a lot to society, however, it gets rebranded as ‘an invention’ or ‘a trend’ curated by non black celebrities or influencers. I remember a sign from one of the Black Lives Matter protest that says something like ‘You enjoy our culture, but hate our People.’ This article was not written to tell people to stop participating in the culture, but rather, appreciate and give credit where credit is due.
After a long day of work, we’re all guilty of throwing frozen foods into the microwave for a quick fix. Although frozen foods are quick, and affordable, a tiny part of us just knows that it certainly isn’t the healthiest dinner choice. However, what is wrong with eating frozen foods? Why are they bad for us?
Frozen foods may increase blood pressure?
The US Food and Drug Administration defines processed foods as “any food other than a raw agricultural commodity and includes any raw agricultural commodity that has been subject to processing, such as canning, cooking, freezing, dehydration, or milling.” This defines nearly all food served in restaurants and grocery store products as processed. Food processing process involves the addition of sodium containing additives, hence increasing the sodium level in food products.
This is an issue as according to the CDC, up to 70% of sodium Americans consume comes from processed and restaurant foods. Consuming too much sodium can increase blood pressure, hence increasing the risk of stroke and heart disease. 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend Americans to consume less than 2300 milligrams of sodium each day. But here’s a more important question: How do we cut down sodium in our food?
Similar products may vary in sodium content, hence, compare food labels and opt for foods with the least amount of sodium.
Use fresh ingredients instead of processed ones
Request for lower sodium options when dining out
Reduce portion sizes can limit salt consumption
Frozen food may clog arteries
In processed / frozen food, trans fat is known as “partially hydrogenated oils” on ingredient labels which is notorious for clogging arteries and increasing the risk of heart diseases, stroke, and developing type 2 diabetes. Trans fats raises bad (LDL) cholesterol, while lowering the good (HDL) cholesterol levels. Trans fat is created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid, according to Heart Organization.
Why do companies use trans fats? Besides being inexpensive and giving food a desirable taste and texture, trans fats can be reused a number of times. However, its undesirable health effects have trumped its usefulness, leading countries such as Denmark, Switzerland, Canada, and several jurisdictions of the US to restrict or reduce the use of trans fats in food service establishments. In November 2013, the FDA determined that partially hydrogenated oils are no longer Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) in human food.
Unknown chemicals in frozen foods
A report from Environmental Working Group estimated that up to 2,000 synthetic chemicals can be found in conventional packaged foods. Furthermore, the chemicals may not be approved by the FDA but as it is approved by industry group, the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association, it is used in products while not being required to be labeled on the package. This is disturbing as these added chemical preservatives may cause long term effects such as increase the risks of diseases ranging from hormonal problems to cancer.
The EWG has conducted their research and summarized some common synthethic preservatives found in packaged foods:
World Health Organization reports gastrointestinal effects.
Source: EWG, from EWG’s Food Scores database
Try to reduce the consumption of frozen foods as there are too many synthetic chemicals that may cause long term health problems. Furthermore, trans fat and sodium contained in frozen foods may increase the risk of one developing heart diseases, strokes and other complications. Instead, try to use natural and organic foods as all synthetic chemical compounds has to be stringently approved by the FDA. If you really suffer a lack of time, try to ask your server for dishes with the least amount of sodium when dining out, and to check nutrition labels carefully before purchasing frozen foods.
A few days ago, an Instagram environmental activist page hopped on the bandwagon of a popular meme and pop culture trend which originated from ‘Spotify 2020 wrapped’ which consists of Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter users sharing their Spotify user summary listing their most listened songs and artists throughout 2020. Meme creators have used the same format and spun it off with their own twist, such as depreciating humor, or simply just sharing funny music. And in the case of @everythingclimatechange on Instagram, their twist was a 2020 update on the climate.
So let’s explore the 2020 Climate Wrapped
The average global temperature is 1.2°C above pre-industrial levels
What does ‘above pre-industrial levels’ mean? It means that average temperature (January 2020 to October 2020) is 1.2°C above the 1850–1900 baseline. According to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), scientists used a baseline to measure global temperatures – a time when fossil-fuel burning had yet to change the climate at such a high noticeable rate. At the moment the period between 1850 and 1900 is used which means that 1.5°C is the baseline. WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas stresses that as “There is at least a one in five chance of it temporarily exceeding 1.5 °C by 2024”.
Just because the average temperature hasn’t reached 1.5°C, it doesn’t mean that the effects are not serious or that we still have time. According to NASA, even if the temperature increase is limited to 1.5°C, sea level will continue to rise, as heat already stored in the oceans from human-produced warming causes them to expand.
The top corporate plastic polluters:
According to the Guardian, these 3 brands were accused of “zero-progress” for the year 2020. Coca-Cola in particular turns out to pollute the earth with more plastic than PepsiCo and Nestlé combined. Coca-Cola produces about three million tonnes of plastic packaging a year, an equivalent to 200,000 bottles per minute.
In 2020, the company is still stern on producing single-use plastic bottled cola. Bea Perez, the Senior Vice President reasoned their decision, ‘Customers like them because they reseal and are lightweight’. The firm tried to compromise by making a pledge to recycle as many Coca-Cola bottles as possible. However, this does not appease environmental activists, as pledging ‘as much as possible’ means that there will still be tremendous amounts of plastic Coca-Cola bottles that end up in landfills and the sea.
Unilever, one of the biggest multinational consumer goods companies which owns brands like Lipton, Rexona and Cif, have been revealed to produce 70,000 tonnes pollution footprint per year! Along with the brands mentioned above, the public claim that these companies lack a sense of morality for contributing such amounts of plastic pollution today. In response to this, Unilever has made a statement about their awareness and mentioned the commitments they want to partake in to reshape plastic use by 2025, such as halving their use of virgin plastic and and a reduction of more than 100,000 tonnes in plastic use.
5. Mondelēz International
Out of the 5 companies, Mondelēz International seems to have made a lasting impression that they have become progressive and all in to reduce plastic pollution. Just by searching on Google “Mondelēz International’s plastic pollution” , the first two pages are filled with articles that are leaving positive and optimistic remarks. The American multinational food company, who owns companies like Cadbury, Oreo and Sour Patch Kids, have announced to collaborate across the industry to work on the policy, Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). According to Britannica: EPR is a practice and a policy approach in which producers take responsibility for management of the disposal of products they produce once those products are designated as no longer useful by consumers. Responsibility for disposal may be fiscal, physical, or a combination of the two.
Atmospheric CO2 levels reached a record high of 418.32 ppm (parts-per-million)
Even with the reduced carbon emissions due to the coronavirus pandemic, the rate has not decreased and has stayed higher than 2019’s atmospheric CO2 level (414.7 ppm). This begs the question, how much higher would the rate be today if there was no Covid-19?
The pandemic has been great to force a steep decrease on carbon emissions. In 2020, the global carbon emission rate has dropped to 7% as less people are traveling in transportation and factories had to go through a shut down as people isolate themselves. However, this jarring decrease is only temporary and is not as effective as it sounds. The secretary general of World Meteorological Organization (WMO) noted that: “The lockdown-related fall in emissions is just a tiny blip on the long-term graph. We need a sustained flattening of the curve”
Australia’s Great Barrier Reef experiences its 3rd mass coral bleaching in 5 years
Professor Terry Hughes, director of the Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies found that 25 percent of the overall reef was severely bleached. Worse, the bleaching reached the coastal sides. Just as related to the carbon emissions mentioned above, bleaching of the coral reef happens because of rapid warming of the planet.
According to EcoWorld, the Great Barrier Reef indeed bleaches from time to time due to natural seasonal warming of the planet. However, in the case of 2002 and 2017, it was definitely our fault, just like for this year’s mass coral bleaching too. 2020’s coral mass bleaching was not the largest in terms of the span of corals bleaching, but rather was the second most severe on record. According to CNN, scientists found the damages are likely to be lasting and irreparable.
This is the hottest decade on record, with the hottest six years occurring since 2015
According to the Guardian, the past decade was the hottest, and 2019 comes in top three for the hottest year. It is no news that the world gets hotter by each decade since the pre-industrial era. However The average rise in temperature per decade is 0.7°C, and for this decade, the average had increased to a whopping of 0.39°C.
Because of 2019’s rising temperature and an expected lack of progress, Karin Gleason, a NOAA climatologist said 2020 was suspected to become hotter and beat 2016 by 75%, 2016’s record – global temperature mean (0.99°C / 1.78°F), the hottest temperature recorded in 2016 was 51.0°C / 123.8°F in India. However, due to the pandemic, the percentage had decreased to 50%
California’s record-breaking wildfire season
The 2020 California Wildfire Season is currently an ongoing fire crisis.
In mid September, no one expected a gender-reveal party would be the cause of one of the top biggest wildfires of California, ever. As gender-reveal parties have become more trendy and a ‘once in a lifetime’, this family wanted to make sure they hold one that would become memorable by using a ‘pyrotechnic device’, starting the El Dorado Fire. Before that, California’s forests have been burning as well as normal, the common hot and dry weather of California plays a part.
The ongoing fire is not only life-threatening to the residents of California, but it was extremely detrimental to the environment. Especially in Covid-19, firefighters are not only under risk of extinguishing fires but also of contracting the virus. California will always have wildfires in 2020. It has started since May in Kings, the named fire, Interstate 5 has burned 2,060 acres. In August, California Governor Gavin Newsom said that the state was burning from 367 known fires, many of which were sparked by intense thunderstorms. According to Cal Fire over 9,639 fires have burned 4,359,517 acres
What scientists concluded was that “fire seasons like this one will be more common as drier, hotter conditions wrought by climate change continue to result in larger, more intense fires” the last recorded wildfire was in December 13 at Riverside
The top polluting countries are
China’s growth has been powered by the cheap and extremely polluting fossil fuel, coal, which is the power source to people’s homes and also industries and factories that sell lots of exports. The use of coal has contributed to the worst case of air pollution in China. According to Environment-Ecology, 75% of the premature deaths are caused by the 152 coal-fired power plants in Hebei Province.
According to Active Sustainability, The US is “the biggest industrial and commercial power”. Even with active commitment and effort to reduce pollution, the US still ranks in second place as big cities are still producing emissions and recently, rural area are beginning to be affected.
Same as China, India’s industrialization main energy source is burning of the fossil fuels. According to the World Health Organization, 14 out of 15 most polluted cities are part of India. The Indian Express shows the pollution in India is caused by industrial pollution (51%), vehicles (27%), crop burning (17%) and fireworks (5%).
Corrosion Doctors says that power-plants in Russia “lack modern pollution control equipment, resulting in large amounts of toxic emissions and waste” As being another country with huge industrial demands, Russia is dependent on cheap and polluting fossil fuels like oil, coal and gas.
Japan has a reputation of modern and progressive urban development and industrialization. According to AZO Cleantech, Japan’s rapid growth has been beginning since the 19th century, therefore the dependence on coal, wood and gas produces a lot of emissions and waste.
@everythingclimatechange was very direct with their conclusion. Essentially, the planet is not getting better and to prevent an irreversible consequence, we have to give effort now.
Reversing of climate change and reducing of pollution is no new topic. We are/were taught about it in schools and are encouraged to make better choices for the environment by people around us and in the media.
The pandemic has let us isolate ourselves and reflect on what is a necessity and creative ways we can introduce into our new life schedule that could help with the issue.
World Soil Day is an international event hosted by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nation (FAO), they aim to “Keep soil alive, Protect soil biodiversity” by addressing the cause and alleviate soil biodiversity loss.
Before we get into how cosmetic products harm the environment. We should first understand why our soil is dying.
According to the NSW, soil degradation ‘is the decline in soil condition caused by its improper use or poor management, usually for agricultural, industrial or urban purposes’. Soil degradation is certainly a natural regressive evolution process which can be caused by wind or water erosion. However, according to Pimentel et. al.’s study on soil erosion, the damages has increased by 17 times in the USA just because of modern cultivation alone. They added that it would take an investment of 6.4 billion USD to reduce this rate of increase.
The European Environmental Agency has referenced The Tutzing Project of 1998 mentioning that in humid climates, it takes up to 500 years on average for the formation of only 2.5 cm of soil. Therefore at this rate, this important finite source cannot beat the damages in time.
How cosmetics and fast fashion contributes to the damage?
According to the BBC, an estimated 92 million tonnes of textiles waste is created each year, by 2030, it is expected that more than 134 million tonnes of textiles a year will be discarded. Aside from non-environmental friendly packaging and production. When cosmetics and fast fashion items get improperly dumped, it becomes toxic and damages the soil underneath. In addition, the production for these industries also has a high demand of raw materials to be extracted from the soil. According to the UN Conference on Trade and Development, fashion is the second most polluting industry in the world.
Aside from the toxic product, synthetic cotton which can slowly cause organ damages in the long-term. The production of synthetic cotton is damaging to the soil. Using these synthetic fertilizers is not the big problem, the problem is the combination of this use and high demands. In these synthetic N-P-K (nitrogen – phosphorus – potassium) fertilizers, it harms the water under the soil by producing more and grows algae at a faster rate in which the ecosystem cannot handle. In addition, production of synthetic cotton harms the surrounding land too, synthetic fertilizers and pesticides that are sprayed on the crop travels through air to the surrounding area, when pesticides go through the ground, eroding the soil.
Polyester is non-biodegradable, meaning discarded polyester fabrics and clothes will not break down easily in landfills, which could become a hazard to land and soil animals. A research was done specifically studying the effects of polyester fibers on the important soil decomposers food web animals. The results show a negative effect on the animal’s energy reserves, ingestion and a decrease of 30% in reproduction rate. Although the conclusion was that the effect is slight, polyester still creates a long-term effect on these soil invertebrates by disrupting the decomposition process. In addition, when polyester clothing is washed, the fabric sheds and the micro plastics are washed down the drain, ending up in aquatic habitats.
According to the American Chemical Society, traces of Siloxanes are found in soil and aquatic life. Siloxanes are simply a class of liquid silicon that is found in skincare products, hair products and makeup. Environment Canada reported that the chemical compounds of siloxanes are toxic to the environment, found as to bioaccumulate in the environment.
Extraction of Mica is not only a real issue of illicit child labour use but it is also an environmental issue. Natural Mica that are used to make shiny pigments to create makeup products like eyeshadows and highlighters goes through a process of mining. Mining does not only pollute air, but it scars habitats and creates an irreversible soil structure damage. Companies like Lush have now converted to only using Synthetic Mica – Lush Creative Buyer Gabbi Loedolff says “Even though it is synthesised in a lab, it is constructed of natural minerals, so you don’t end up with the problem of microplastics which can end up in the oceans and water supplies.”
Triclosan which are found in hand sanitizers and household products are not only harmful to aquatic life but also damages the soil. This FDA banned chemical has been found to disrupt the nitrogen cycle in soil. This means that the affected soil has fertility damage, causing plants to go yellow and die. When Triclosan reaches to a waterway, it accumulates and reacts with other chemicals to make dioxins which are toxic.
Aquatic pollution is also Soil pollution
As much more research on cosmetics and textile toxic chemicals leads to a greater amount of aquatic pollution results. It is important to note that water and soil are dependent on each other as an ecosystem. Observably, chemicals that leak into waterways come from the soil and polluted toxic water goes back to soil, ending up in our crops, killing vulnerable animals and microorganisms. Hence, becoming another statistic that contributes to the rapid increase of soil degradation.
Whether it’s for health purposes, a personal revelation, or a new years revelation, you’ve decided to adopt a healthier way of eating. You’ve swapped potato chips and burgers for vegetables and lean protein. But as you look through supermarket shelves another question comes to mind: what are organic labels and…should you choose them?
What does an organic label mean?
According to Harvard Health, the purpose of organic agriculture is to preserve natural resources, support animal health and welfare, and to avoid synthetic materials or chemicals in produce. The USDA is a strict regulator for the organic industry and only provides a “USDA Organic” seal for foods that are 95% organic.
Produce and livestock is considered organic when:
Soil is free from synthetic pesticides and fertilizers
Crops cannot be genetically modified
Animals cannot receive antibiotics or growth hormones
Animal feed has to be grown organically
Animals must be able to roam around outside
Processed organic foods must not contain synthetic additives
Is organic food safer?
Man made pesticides in non organic foods
In an interview with WebMD, John Reganold, a professor of soil science at Washington State University described the chances of getting pesticide residues as “much less with organic food”. He used a case study conducted by Consumer Union to show that organically grown crops had one third of the pesticide residue compared to non organic produce.
Even so, the amount of pesticide and synthetic chemicals in non organic produce is still well below the level that the Environmental Protection Agency has deemed unsafe. Hence, the real potential health risk is whether the accumulation of small doses over decades may harm us.
Natural toxins in organic food
If you helped out in the kitchen, you’d instinctively know to cut off the green spots on potatoes. Solanine is a substance produced by potatoes and is identified by its green spots. This is an example of natural toxins in plants where an over consumption of this substance can make you physically ill. As organic plants lack synthetic chemicals and pesticides to protect them, they have to resort to creating their own toxins to contend with pests and insects. Some say this this natural toxins may be as harmful or even more so then synthetic pesticides used in the production of non organic foods.
As a rule of thumb, rinse all fruits and vegetable thoroughly under running water even if you are going to cook it after. Take special care to wash fruit skins such as oranges or melons as cutting unwashed fruit skins may bring pesticides from the blade into the flesh.
However, there is one certainty. Eating food while its fresh is the only way to get the most nutrients out of it. Nutrients oxidize over time. So, even if there is a higher content of nutrients in organic foods, it would oxidize and disappear sitting in the refrigerator.
Is it worth the cost?
Toxic and pesticides accumulate in the soil, water, our bodies and we end up consuming it. Although there is insufficient data surrounding this topic, the potential health risks are always there. Choose what works for your lifestyle. Organic foods tend to be up to 47% more expensive than non organic foods. If you are able the luxury of choosing all organic produce and like the idea of a more environmentally friendly production system, organic is the way to go! However, choosing certain products as organic works too!
World’s Aids Day (December 1st) has been made as an International Day to raise awareness about AIDs. To raise awareness, let us get informed and break down the myths!
What is AIDs?
According to Mayo Clinic, “Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDs) is a chronic, potentially life-threatening condition caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). By damaging your immune system, HIV interferes with your body’s ability to fight infection and disease.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) has released the statistics for AIDs of 2019:
38,000,000 – estimated number of people living with HIV
1,700,000 – number of people that were newly infected with HIV
690,000 – number of people that died of HIV related causes
The origins of HIV/AIDs
HIV came from a type of chimpanzee in Central Africa. These chimpanzees had the HIV-like virus called simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV). The SIV later infected humans as hunters would either eat infected chimps, or the blood of infected chimps would infect the hunter’s wounds or cuts. It is believed that the first transmission of SIV to HIV came from the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1920. And later on, the spread started during the 60s across the Caribbean, and to the States during the 70s. Which later became a spread of the whole world.
Symptoms and Effects of HIV/AIDs
According to the New York State Department of Health, symptoms like fever, sore throat, swollen glands or a skin rash would appear after being infected with HIV. These symptoms would still go away without being treated. However, the HIV stays in your blood, without treatment, it gets worse. The immune system becomes weak and overtime, it could develop into AIDs if left not treated.
So how does HIV attack the immune system? In the immune system, there are white blood cells which are CD4 cells. HIV gets inside these CD4 cells, makes copies of them and then kills the cell. So the virus in the body increases and CD4 cells decrease, making the body vulnerable.
Based on Mayo Clinic, the progression to AIDs means that the immune system is severely damaged. Therefore the body will be more likely to develop opportunistic infections or opportunistic cancers. Infections such as Pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP), Tuberculosis, Toxoplasmosis e.t.c And cancers such as Lymphoma and Kaposi’s sarcoma.
How is HIV transmitted and Myths/Misconceptions
Before writing this, I asked my friends what they knew about HIV/AIDs, and shockingly, they knew nothing at all.
HIV is a transmitted disease from one person-to-person through sex (as a Sexually Transmitted infection, STI) and when sharing injection drug needles; via bodily fluids: blood, semen, vaginal fluid, anal mucous and breastmilk.
So let’s explore the Myths
Only adults get HIV
Everyone can be a victim of HIV, it is not limited to sexual partners or drug users. HIV can be transmitted from mother to babies during pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding.
You can get HIV from kissing
HIV cannot be spread through saliva. As HIV is a STI, it is no surprise that this is a misconception. However, HIV from kissing is not impossible, but rather extremely rare. It only becomes possible if the blood of a HIV positive partner gets into the bloodstream to the other, as both have sores or bleeding gums.
You can get HIV from oral sex
This is only possible if there are open sores on the genital area or bleeding gums/sores in a partner’s mouth. Though not impossible, it is extremely rare.
Contraceptive pills, washing after sex and pulling out can prevent HIV
False. The only contraceptives that are successful at preventing transmitting HIV are proper use of condoms and the use of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), a medicine PrEP is prescribed to HIV-negative adults and adolescents who are at high risk for getting HIV.
You can get HIV from sharing food
As mentioned, you cannot get HIV through saliva. However, it is also not impossible and is extremely rare. Food will only be contaminated if a HIV positive persons’ blood mixes with the food when chewing. But don’t be fearful, HIV cannot survive exposure to the air or heat from cooking.
You can get HIV from water
HIV cannot survive in water.
You can get HIV from insect and pet bites
Theoretically, this could only be possible if an insect e.g. a mosquito bites a HIV positive person, then transmitting it to another person when biting the other person. But this is all myth, because HIV cannot infect insects or pets in the first place. The reason being that HIV cannot live with them due to difference in genetic build-up, hence the H in HIV stands for humans.
If a couple are both HIV positive, they don’t need protection
This myth is extremely dangerous as it is false and promoting unsafe sex. HIV is a virus of many strains, therefore, different people can have different strains of HIV. Unsafe sex between HIV positive couples means that the partner(s) can contract a strain they didn’t have, worsening their health.
You can get HIV from Tattoos and piercings
This is only possible if the needle being used is contaminated with infected blood. As regulations require professionals to sterilize needles before use, the cases are rare. However, you must be aware.
Click this to read our article about Tattoos and their poor regulations
When HIV became recognized publicly during the 80s, the topic of HIV was very controversial. This is because HIV is transmitted through sex which is taboo in some countries. According to UNAIDS, The Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, 50% of people report having discriminatory attitudes towards people living with HIV. 2 additional myths that can be very stigmatizing are :
Only gay men get HIV
As mentioned, everyone can be a victim. This misconception comes from the fact that anal sex has a higher risk of transmitting HIV than vaginal sex. This myth has effected many gay men. In the beginning, HIV had a nickname called the “gay plague”. There are also surveys by Lambda Legal that shows LGBT individuals getting denied of HIV/AIDs treatment or be discriminatorily treated, also over 32% of LGBT individuals were also told that they were to be blamed for their health status
You can get HIV from touching a HIV positive person
Since HIV can only be transmitted through specific bodily fluids, this is false. Paige Rawl, who contracted HIV since birth was interviewed by Vox and shared her experience.
“The coach made a joke to my mom that the team could use my HIV status to our advantage, because the players on the other team would be scared to touch me, and I could score goals.”
Avert, an international HIV and AIDS charity pointed out why it is important to debunk myths. They explained that incorrect HIV information stops people getting tested.
“My daughter refused to go hospital to receive medicines. My daughter died because of the fear of stigmatization and discrimination”
World AIDs day 2020 – How COVID-19 affected HIV patients
WHO has participated in this International Day by rallying for ‘global solidarity’. They explained that the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the services for HIV, especially in countries that have weak health care, hence they suspected that HIV/AIDs related deaths are rising. Global solidarity would “to maintain essential HIV services during COVID 19 and beyond – and to ensure continued provision of HIV services for children, adolescents and populations most at risk for the disease”. If this is successful, WHO could potentially reach their 2030 goal – to end the AIDs epidemic.
We are particular about applying sunscreen during summer, however most of us stop using sunscreen as the seasons change and winter rolls by. Contrary to popular belief, even as we swap tank tops and shorts for long coats and mitten, it is still crucial that we use sunscreen during the winter.
Winter intensifies suns’ rays
Snow and ice can reflect up to 90% of the UV rays. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that everyone wears sunscreens daily as Ultraviolet radiation (UV) rays from the sun often result in damage and mutations in our DNA. In fact, there is a strong positive relation between UV exposure from the sun and the increase of non melanoma skin cancers. Besides that UV rays are also the main cause of wrinkles according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Even though we hardly notice the sun during winter, don’t forget that the reflective rays are still harmful!
Sunscreen has anti aging properties
Do you feel your skin get drier during winter? Are there fine lines appearing out of the blue? Fine lines appear due to the UV rays that penetrate and damage collagen and elastin in your skin. Sunscreen acts as a barrier that moisturizes and protects your skin against the dry, harsh, winter weather, as well as provide a protective film that reflects UV rays from penetrating your skin. Furthermore, the ozone layer which traps most UV rays is the thinnest during winter, according to Beaumont Organization. It is important to protect ourselves with sunscreen especially from 10am to 4pm as that is when sunrays are at its strongest. A 4 year study conducted in Australia compared skin aging in 900 men and women. The results found that those who used sunscreen had no detectable increase and even 24% less skin aging compared to those who did not. This study shows concrete evidence that sunscreen does have anti aging properties.
Winter conditions remove sunscreen faster
Sweating off sunscreen is a tell tale sign you need to reapply sunscreen. However, we don’t sweat during winter, making it hard to remember to reapply sunscreen. Some people even think that because we don’t sweat, the sunscreen is still there and applying it once in the morning is more than enough. Shockingly, the harsh winds wear sunscreens faster and makes them lose its effectiveness according to The Skin Cancer Foundation. We are recommended to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours, and immediately after sweating for sunscreen to protect your skin.
How do we choose sunscreens?
With the variety of the types of sunscreens on supermarket shelves, how do we choose the right sunscreens for us? What do the SPF numbers mean?
What does the SPF numbers mean?
SPF numbers, or sun protection factor, don’t show the strength of the sunscreen. Instead, it is the duration you can go before reapplying. There’s a little math involved. If you were to get a sunburn after 10 minutes without sunscreen, after applying SPF 30, you can stay 30x longer (300 minutes / 5 hours) before getting sunburnt.
There are 2 major types of sunscreens
Physical sunscreens are also known as mineral sunscreens that function like a mirror and reflects the suns rays. Titanium dioxide (TiO2) and zinc oxide (ZnO) are what gives sunscreens the white sheen we see on our skin and if physical sunscreens don’t appear white, it means that the the ingredients in the sunscreen isn’t high enough to protect you from the sun.
Chemical sunscreens absorb suns’ rays and dissipate it away as heat. The pros of sunscreens is that it stays on the skin for a longer duration of time. However, chemical sunscreens are bad for the environment as it forms byproducts that are harmful to the environment and marine life, leading some organizations to ban the use of certain ingredients in sunscreens.
Ingredients you should avoid in you chemical sunscreens:
Sunscreen should be used all year round, especially during winter. When choosing sunscreen for you, it is important to calculate SPF and constantly reapply sunscreen every two hours to protect your skin against the harsh winds and invisible UV rays. While physical sunscreens are au natural, they tend to wash off easily. While chemical sunscreens last longer, certain ingredients are harmful for the environment and marine life. Hence, if you want to use chemical sunscreens, make sure to avoid ingredients that may potentially harm the environment.