Toxic beauty is a documentary feature film following a class action lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson, a renown household brand. We follow personal stories of whistle blowers, survivors and women in a race against time revealing a series of ugly cover ups in the beauty & cosmetic industry. Besides that, the film weaves in a human experiment conducted by Mymy Nguyen, a Boston University Masters student who measures her chemical body burden when using different cosmetic products.
“The cosmetic industry is destroying women’s cells.”
This powerful statement mentioned by an ex formulator of one of the biggest cosmetic brands hooked me on immediately. I’ve had sensitive skin and eczema when I was a child, and the prolonged periods of itchiness and rash were not fun. Since then, I’ve always been wary of chemicals I apply on my skin, always fearful of a reaction. Even though I outgrew the sensitive skin phase, my sense of wariness about products I apply on my skin never left me. While my peers were playing with make up and slathering themselves in an assortment of cosmetic products, I stuck to the most routine: washing my face with water and applying sunscreen. After the unpleasant realization that I end up consuming the wax like substance, lipstick on my lips, I resulted to eyeliner as the only form of make up I use.
Granted, some of the times, the lack of available scientific information in the present results in health issues in the future and cannot be avoided. However, what shocked me was that renown household companies like Johnsons & Johnsons which specialize in a range of baby products was engaged in a lawsuit that unveiled a series of cover ups that spanned across decades. Bear in mind this isn’t a direct hit on Johnson & Johnson as talc is used rampantly in other products. However, a link between talc and ovarian cancer was discovered all the way in early 1980s by world renowned epidemiologist Dr Daniel Cramer. However, nothing was done. No warning label was placed on talc even after the International Agency for Research on Cancer declared Talc as a possible carcinogen. The cosmetic industry has had little change since 1936, and the way we regulate personal care products need to improve.
I’d like to believe I’m an over cautious person, however, there is overwhelming scientific evidence that point that conglomerates often use harmful chemicals and ingredients in products and sell them to unwitting buyers. Labels such as “fragrance“, “parfum” and “aroma” do not show the ingredients used and can conceal a range of potentially hazardous chemicals. Furthermore, the fact that we live in a world operated by a post- market regulatory system is hazardous as a product goes into the market and a regulatory system kicks in only when there are incidents. The fact that we are slathering ourselves with potentially harmful chemicals every day of our lives doesn’t sit well with me. In 2004, Dr Phillipa Darbre, a scientist from the UK found parabens in breast tissue. In 2018, a study by the National Institute of Health linked breast cancer to the use of personal care products. Furthermore, the use of certain products high in oestrogen were found to link to hormonal disruption in baby boys causing a myriad of side effects such as developmental delays, low sperm count, infertility, cancer, diabetes, obesity and skin disease. The idea that a lot of these “bodily malfunctions” are essentially self induced is worrisome. How do we make informed decisions? How do we know which product is okay to use?
It is scary that our physical and mental health risks can be self induced through using products containing harmful chemicals. The documentary follows Mymy Nguyen who conducts a self experiment to measure chemicals in her body when she doesn’t use any self care products at all, when she uses all of her usual routine, and when she uses natural and clean products. It was shocking that when she used her products she’s been using for years eg shampoos, toothpaste, make up, the parabens and phthalates (toxic chemicals) found in her urine samples were higher than the 95th percentile of Americans. It is close to impossible to not use any personal care products as tasks like washing your hair or brushing your teeth cannot be avoided. She expressed her fear of not being able to have children and like the women we follow in the lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson expressed the guilt that the health risks were almost like it was self induced. I disagree with the statement, as I feel the chemists and R&D part of companies should be more stringent and responsible about the types of ingredients they choose to use. But how do we make sure that the products we use aren’t harmful to us?
Regulatory bodies such as the FDA should aim to be more stringent with regulating cosmetic products instead of buckling under the pressure of conglomerates who promise to self regulate. Furthermore, consumers should take one step further and use ingredient analyzer platforms such as 1Source, EWG, and Incidecoder to make sure that the products they use do not contain harmful ingredients / chemicals. It is really simple to use, especially if your ingredient label is filled with long chemistry names we are unfamiliar with. Simply type the name of the product into the platform. A rating of the products will be shown and toxic ingredients will be flagged. By making smarter purchasing decisions, consumers can support clean businesses and put pressure on other companies to use cleaner ingredients. For starters, here are some toxic ingredients and chemicals to look out for in your personal products.
Different types of harmful chemicals
Mimic hormone activity with links to birth defects, reproductive harm and cancer
An online pharmacy, Valisure, raised alarm on a carcinogen found in hand sanitizers sold during the coronavirus pandemic. The pharmacy, Valisure, tested 260 hand sanitizer products for toxic chemicals and found high levels of benzene in nearly 44 products sold in the US. According to the 1Source database, Benzene is classified as a Group 1 carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and prohibited by the European Commission for use in cosmetic products. Benzene can harm individuals through dermal absorption or inhalation.
Hazards (UN GHS):
1. May be fatal if swallowed and enters airways (H304)
2. Causes skin irritation (H315)
3. Causes serious eye irritation (H319)
4. May cause genetic defects (H340)
5. May cause cancer (H350)
6. Causes damage to organs through prolonged or repeated exposure (H372)
7. Toxic to aquatic life (H401)
8. Toxic to aquatic life with long lasting effects (H411)
Products entered the market by demand due to a nationwide shortage of hand sanitizers. To meet the high demand for hand sanitizer during Covid-19 public health emergency, the FDA allowed an ” interim limit of 2 parts per million (ppm) for benzene in liquid hand sanitizers. Before June 2020, FDA banned benzene in the manufacture of any stage of drug products due to its toxicity. Despite the relaxation, Valisure reported that out of 260 hand sanitizer products tested, 17% contained benzene, with the highest level of benzene detected at 16.1ppm, over eight times the interim limit.
Some of the brands containing carcinogens include Artnaturals, which ironically describes itself as born from a “desire to free beauty from high prices, toxic chemicals”. Star Wars Baby Yoda themed bottle was caught in crossfires. New entrants which appeared to plug the market after household brands such as Purell and Suave sold out were noted to contain Benzene. Tainted sanitizers can be found for sale at Amazon and Target. Out of the 44 hand sanitizer products contaminated with Benzene, 2% are manufactured in Mexico, 50% in China, and 34% in the United States.
List of tainted hand sanitizers:
9. beauty concepts
2. Scentsational Soaps & Candles Inc.
11. Miami Carry On
12. Natural Wunderz
5. The Creme Shop
6. Star Wars Mandalorian
7. Body Prescriptions
15. Hand Clean 100
8. Born Basic
Besides that, Valisure also detected unacceptably high levels of methanol, and a acetaldehyde, defined by the WHO and IARC as ” possibly carcinogenic to humans” . The FDA stated that companies manufacturing hand sanitizers should not ” add other active or inactive ingredients”, for example to enhance the smell or taste. However, out of the 44 batches of hand sanitizers containing benzene, 20 of their product labels indicate the additional ingredients which fail to adhere to FDA guidelines. Enhancing the taste and smell is hazardous, as it may increase the risk of making product more appealing to be ingested by children.
In the letter, Valisure requested that all contaminated batches of hand sanitizer be recalled by the FDA and that they conduct an investigation of products and provide information to the public.
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.
Changing your hair color is a luxurious treat, but going to a hair salon can be a costly affair. To save time and money, many opt to dye hair at home with the help of boxed dye. Health conscious customers may purposely choose hair dye products with natural labels to reduce the risk of allergies, minimize chemicals, or cause less damage to the hair. However, the Consumer Council has discovered that many “natural” labels are misleading and harbor false claims. Click here if you’re wondering how hair dye works!
The Consumer Council tested 26 hair dyes labelled with “natural”, “herbal”, “plant based”, and “organic”. Prices of hair dyes ranged from $18 – $450. Hair dyes were tested for 8 common hair dye allergens, ammonia, heavy metal content, pH, label information and the microbiological content of herbal henna samples. Results showed that companies utilized these keywords merely as a marketing tool, as the contents of the product failed to support its claims. 60% of the dyes tested contained allergens or heavy metals, posing a health risk to users. Conclusion of this report: don’t fall into the trap of assuming “natural” products are safer!
13 oxidative permanent hair dyes and six henna-type products
The results showed that allergens were detected in up to 16 products. The three allergens found include p-Phenylenediamine (PPD), m-Phenylenediamine (MPD) and Touluene-2, 5-diamine (PTD) which is on the Poisons List of Pharmacy and Poisons Regulations. Phenylenediamine (PPD) contained highest content, ranging from 0.29% to 8.3%, with the latter from Herbul Sea Spirit Grass Dyed Pure Black Hair. Although common, cosmetic regulations in the Eurupean Union and mainland China cap the concentration of PPD at 2%. Melva’s Hair Color Powder with Natural Nourishing Herbs exceeded the regulation by 100%, while Korean- made Cosline’s Squid Ink Speedy Color Cream was on point.
What is PPD?
PPD is commonly used in oxidative dye type hair dyes to produce colorful dye compounds when mixed with other chemical substances. Studies have shown that some people are at risk of developing scalp irritation, swelling, and even difficulty breathing. 11 products containing PPD, and 3 other henna dyes containing PPD:
Herbatint’s Permanent Haircolor Gel (1N)
Naturtint’s Permanent Hair Color
Tints of Nature’s Simply Healthier Hair Colour Permanent Hair Colour
Khloris’ Sepia Seven Hair Color Cream
Naturigin’s Naturigin Natural Hair Dye – Black 2.0
Richenna’s Vitamin E Hair Dye
LUCIDO-L’s Natural Plant-based Hair Dye
Cosline’s Squid Ink Speedy Color Cream (1N)
Hair Dye produced by Herbul
Melva’s Hair Color Powder with Natural Nourishing Herbs
Natural henna needs to be applied for at least “three to five hours before it can show a dyeing effect,” described by Consumer Council Chief Executive, Gilly Wong Fung-han during an interview with South China Morning Post. She described that many manufacturers may be tempted to add chemical substances to improve coloring effect as well as shorten the time it takes for the color to show.
All six henna dyes were found to contain lead, with Herbul Sea, India, and Indigo dyes leading with a lead content of 3.1. Furthermore, Melva’s Hair Color Powder with Natural Nourishing Herbs contain a lead content of 0.4 to 0.6, with one sample containing 0.043 mercury. The heavy metal contents were within mainland China regulations, however the council cautioned prolonged exposure to the dyes.
Furthermore, the total number of bacterial colonies in all samples exceeded the mainland’s requirement of less than 1,000 colonies per gram. Be Nature Organic Herba Powder was found to contain 250,000 bacteria, 249 times higher than what was allowed.
One mutagenic ingredient prohibited by The Europian Union and mainland cosmetic regulations was found in TS Chakhan Hair Color Cream. Furthermore, there was an issue of false lalbelling as five of the hair coloring products failed to list the ammonia content. Out of the five, two of them (Herbatint and Tints of Nature- even claimed to be “ammonia free”, when they actually contained the chemical. Seven other products only had a partial list while two did not have any information on their contents at all. Read on to find out how 1Source can help you find quality products.
The Consumer Council reminded consumers to conduct a skin allergy test on all hair dyes before using the product and highlighted that those with eczema or scalp damage should steer clear from hair dye treatments. Read on to find out how to use 1Source to navigate the beauty world.
The pandemic has affected everyone’s lives in significant ways. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) laid down some guidelines to help keep populations healthy. Everyone, including children, needs to practice these guidelines. Parents must teach their kids these guidelines to protect their health during the pandemic. Nutrition and health go hand in hand. Find out the 4 foods to boost immune system here!
Your child should practice frequent hand washing habits during the pandemic and maintain them after. This is because the hands are a common source of infection. Hands easily pick up dirt and microorganisms from the environment and contaminate other body parts like the mouth and eyes. One way in which the coronavirus spreads is through the hands. The hands can pick up the virus from surfaces like public benches and doorknobs. You then get infected when the hands touch any part of the face. Children are more likely to touch their face and put their hands in the mouth. As such, hand washing is a crucial healthy habit to instill in kids to prevent coronavirus and other infections transmitted orally. Teach your child how to wash hands properly. The CDC recommends washing hands with water and soap for at least 20 seconds. If your child cannot access a hand-washing facility nearby, teach them about sanitizing. Have your child carry a sanitizer everywhere they go.
One of the CDC guidelines that everyone needs to follow during the pandemic is social distancing. Teach your child the importance of maintaining a distance of at least six feet from other people. Social distancing may not be necessary around the house unless a family member is infected. However, it is important when in public settings like schools. Teach your child that they should maintain a safe distance from people who experience signs of the disease, like sneezing and coughing. With schools now open, teaching your child on social distancing can provide you with relief that the child is safe in school.
Wearing a mask
Teach your child on proper techniques of wearing a mask. Any child above the age of two should know how to wear a mask in public. Reinforce these techniques as much as possible; once is never enough. Your child should know the appropriate mask to wear and how to put them on. The most effective mask that every child should be aware of is the n95 masks. If you are wondering where to buy a n95 mask, try online stores or pharmacies. Some online stores have CDC-approved N95 masks to keep you and your children safe during the pandemic. They do deliveries to your doorstep, saving you from the need to go to public places to buy masks. Surgical masks are also similarly effective. Children can also find it hard to have the mask on for the entire period they are in public. Therefore, emphasize having the mask on at all times, except when the child is eating or in your car.
Do not get too caught up with other healthy habits that you forget one crucial health aspect; mental health. The pandemic period is difficult for everyone, including children. Kids can no longer play with their friends as much as they want. They can also hardly interact with their friends because every parent is trying to protect their child. As a parent, preventing your child from going out to socialize or play is challenging. Entirely preventing the child from social interaction due to fear of the pandemic is also not mentally healthy for your child. Check out our article on the negative impacts of long term isolation. You can organize with other parents in the neighborhood on indoor playdates now and then. Additionally, you can teach your child how to use platforms like Skype. Skype enables the child to interact with friends and family virtually. These will help distract the child from the stress of staying indoors with as little interaction as possible, which can lead to mental illnesses like depression. For additional information, check out more ways to look after your mental health here!
These healthy habits are important for children. They will help protect the children in the pandemic and protect the elderly who are susceptible to the disease. Kids should also be taught to maintain practices like washing the hands frequently after the pandemic. These are not the only habits that parents should instill in their kids. There are a plethora of health habits that every child should be taught.
Medical experts previously recommended the use of facial masks and shields to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus. Recent guidelines also include eye protection for individuals who run an elevated risk of being exposed to the new coronavirus. The best eyewear options include face shields, goggles and prescription safety glasses that have facial cavity seals. Learn more about the most effective forms of eye protection against exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19.
ANSI Z87.1-Certified Safety Goggles
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend eye protection for healthcare workers and individuals who come into close contact with other occupants in buildings that have poor ventilation. Spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 typically occurs when aerosolized respiratory droplets come into contact with mucosal membranes in the nose and mouth. Eyes also have a similar mucosal lining and can provide an entry point for the new coronavirus.
Impact protection is a primary factor for the ANSI Z87.1 safety rating, but a “D3” marking on frames and lenses indicates that eyewear provides splash and droplet protection. Consider goggles made by a trusted personal protective equipment brand such as the Uvex Classic, Livewire or V-Maxx styles. Goggles with foam seals or rubber gaskets can limit opportunities for aerosolized respiratory particles to enter eyes in addition to direct contact.
Safety Glasses With Gaskets, Seals or Shields
A standard pair of ANSI Z87.1-rated prescription safety glasses frames without a facial seal can protect wearers’ eyes from impact hazards but may not include splash and droplet protection. In order to prevent particles in the air or direct contact spread of the virus that causes COVID-19, you should look for safety glasses with a “D3” splash and droplet rating. This eyewear will probably feature gaskets or seals for a close fit.
Wiley X safety glasses such as the Airrage, Boss, Compass, Enzo and Gravity are all compatible with removable Facial Cavity seals. All of these styles also meet ANSI Z87.1 High Velocity and High Mass Impact standards and can accommodate prescription lenses within specified ranges of sphere and cylinder measurements. Other brands also make conventional frames that have removable side shields or permanent shields along the sides, top and bottom of lenses.
Full Coverage Face Shields
A face shield is a full-coverage solution that is intended to be worn with a cloth or particulate face mask. If you wear standard prescription glasses to improve your vision, you should be able to fit these frames under a face shield. Face shields are effective for protecting your entire face from exposure to aerosolized respiratory particles and direct contact. This PPE functions as source control, but may not be as effective for protecting others unless you pair shields and masks.
Consider purchasing adjustable disposable face shields or TPE face shields. It is also possible to order headgear compatible with replaceable shields or visors. While a face shield is easy to position properly, this type of PPE may be less comfortable than a pair of properly fitted goggles or safety glasses paired with a mask. Fog can pose more of a problem with this full-coverage mode of protection and the combination of a shield and mask forces wearers to speak loudly to communicate.
These types of safety eyewear and facial PPE are effective for reducing the risk of exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19 through the mucosal lining of the eyes. Goggles rated for droplet and splash protection provide a close fit and can minimize fogging. If you require vision correction, you may want to upgrade to goggles or prescription safety glasses with facial cavity seals, gaskets or shields for complete eye coverage.
Have you ever wondered how “sugar free” beverages or “diet” candies still taste sweet? Sugar substitutes such as artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols are replacing sugar and corn syrup across industries. You can’t have your cake, and eat it too, but trending sugar substitutes say otherwise. The demand for sugar substitutes are rising as science and mainstream healthy living sheds bad light on sugars. According to report by News Wire, the global zero calorie sweetener market was expected to grow at a CAGR of 4.40% from 2017 to 2021.
Weight gain: Eating too much sugar can cause a calorie surplus and lead to weight gain and obesity. This is detrimental to health as being overweight increases the risk of health problems such as cancers, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Tooth decay: Sugar is one of the main culprits of tooth decay.
Diabetes: Artificial sweeteners allow diabetic patients to indulge in sugary food without the risk of spiking their blood sugar levels.
The origins of artificial sweeteners
Origins: The first artificial sweetener is saccharine, which was discovered in 1879. Saccharine was discovered by Russian chemist Fahlberg during his work on substitution products of coal tar. After forgetting to wash his hands after a long day in the lab, chemist Fahlberg discovered the coal tar product on his hands, Saccharin, made his dinner bread very sweet.
The rise: Artificial sweeteners or non-nutrient sweeteners shot to fame during World War I & II when sugar production was falling. Saccharin was a cheaper alternative compared to sugar. Since then, several artificial sweeteners have been discovered and produced, and are found in more than 6000 food products across the globe.
Different types of sugar substitutes
Sweeteners impart a sweet taste, which is highly addictive to many. Traditional sweeteners refer to the many forms of the carbohydrate, sugar, which gives out 4 kilocalories (kcal) per gram when consumed. Sugar substitutes are sweeteners that are being used instead of regular sugar sucrose. Sugar substitutes include sugar alcohols, natural and artificial sweeteners which vary in calorific value.
Artificial sweeteners are synthetic sugar substitutes. However, they may not be as artificial as we think as some are derived from naturally occurring substances such as herbs or sugars. Widely used in processed foods, artificial sweeteners can be found in soft drinks, powdered drink mixes, confectionery, canned foods, jams and jellies and dairy products. Check out our article on why “low sugar” labels on beverages are lies.
There are two branches of sweeteners, nutritive and non nutritive sweeteners. Non- nutritive sweeteners are chemical additives that are sweeter than sugar, but contain 0 kilocalories. They are sweeter than sugars and a tiny amount of sweetener can provide enough sweetness in foods. 1 gram of aspartame of 4 kcal, can replace 200 grams of sucrose which is worth 800 kcal. Nutritive sweeteners contain less energy than sugars but are not kilojoule free.
Illustrated is general information on low calorie sweeteners:
Weight control: Artificial sweeteners have “virtually no calories”, hence if you’re trying to prevent weight gain, products sweetened with artificial sweeteners may be an attractive option.
Blood sugar level: As artificial sweeteners are not carbohydrates, they generally do not break down into sugars and raise blood sugar levels. A 2018 study reviewing 29 research articles found that artificial sweeteners had no effect on blood sugars after consumption. Consult doctor or dietician before using any sugar substitutes for health reasons.
Health concerns: Artificial sweeteners, saccharine in particular has been tied to the occurrence of bladder cancer in laboratory rats in studies conducted in the 1970s, hence the label warnings that it “may be hazardous to your health”. However, the National Cancer Institute and other health agencies point out that there is no scientific evidence that artificial sweeteners approved for use in the United States cause cancer or other health problems. Coupled with studies that artificial sweeteners are generally safe in limited quantities in pregnant women, the warning label for saccharin was dropped and is permitted for food use in more than 100 countries to date.
However, a 2020 study by a group of Yale researchers found that consuming artificial sweetener sucralose and a carbohydrate may disrupt body’s natural systems for regulating blood sugars although there is not enough evidence to conclude that artificial sweeteners cause diabetes.
What to look for: Artificial sweeteners are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as food additives, and have to go through a process of being reviewed and approved by the FDA, Joint Food and Agriculture Organization/ World Health Organization Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) for safety, with before hitting grocery stores. FDA declares a substance as “generally recognized as safe”(GRAS) after being met with either criteria:
“Substances has a history of common use in food and is considered generally safe”
“Qualified professionals deem the substance safe for its intended use on the basis on scientific data”
Found in processed foods, chocolates, chewing gums and tooth paste, these carbohydrates occur naturally in certain fruits and vegetables, although they can also be manufactured. Although a natural substitute may seem healthier than sugar, its vitamin and mineral content isn’t significantly different. Sugar alcohols are hard to digest fully hence provide fewer calories compared to traditional sugars. Examples of sugar alcohols include xylitol (additive number 967), sorbitol (420), mannitol (421) and erythritol (968). When consumed in large amounts, sugar alcohols can have a potential laxative effect.
Weight control: Sugar alcohols range from 1.5-3kcal per gram and are less sweet than sugars, hence one puts on fewer calories than when consuming regular sugar, making them seem like an attractive alternative.
Blood sugar level: Although its calorific value is lower than traditional sugar, it is still a carbohydrate and therefore is capable of raising blood sugar levels. However, as the body doesn’t metabolize all the sugar alcohol, the effect on blood sugar level is lower compared to other sugars, but not non existent. Be sure to consult your doctor or dietician for guidance.
These sugar substitutes are promoted as “healthier options” compared to the others, however, these “natural sweeteners” often undergo processing and refining before reaching supermarket shelves. Natural sweeteners are considered “added sugars”and are generally safe, but when broken down by your body into simple sugars (glucose, fructose) it is nutritionally similar to sugar. Although marketed as a healthier and au natural alternative, “they are basically just ‘sugar’ and have been extracted and sold in concentrated form.” according to a report online.
Consuming too much sugar can lead to health problems such as tooth decay, weight gain, poor nutrition and increased triglycerides.
Natural sweeteners approved by the FDA:
Fruit juices and nectars
Monk fruit (luo han guo)
Moderation is key
Be it to lower the amount of calories consumed, to steer away from sugar, or to avoid a spike in blood sugar levels, sugar substitutes are appealing for a number of reasons. A 2019 review concluded that there is no strong evidence linking artificial sweeteners to any positive or negative outcome as there is not enough evidence available to draw a conclusion. When choosing sugar substitutes, remember that food marketed as sugar free isn’t necessary calorie free and can still cause weight gain. Furthermore, processed foods containing food substitutes don’t provide the health benefits as whole fruits and vegetables.
A two pronged approach is advised: to replace sugary foods and drinks with unsweetened substitutes and slowly cut down the amount of sugar consumed. The end goal is for the food trade to reduce the sweetness levels in products while the public “adapts gradually to lighter flavored food”, hence altering their dietary habits and pioneering a better approach to healthy living.
The coronavirus pandemic has impacted society in a number of ways. One of the most concerning is the significant deterioration of the mental health of many of the world’s citizens. A rise in isolation, economic stress and worry about loved ones has led many to experience emotional distress in ways they previously had never encountered. It’s time to enter the new year with increased attention to emotional wellbeing. Here’s why mental health should be your number one priority in 2021 and some ways you can address your state of mind in a proactive manner.
Many have lost valuable social connections due to imposed social distancing since the beginning of the pandemic. One mental health trend that should arise is a renewed focus on the importance of social connections. It’s easy to forget what social creatures humans are and how they depend upon relationships with others. However, mental health professionals are seeing more of a crisis now that so many have been isolated from their social networks.
Chances are, you’re not seeing many people outside of those who live in your household. This is a wise and necessary choice that can, unfortunately, have negative effects on your mood. There are steps you can take to maintain connections and make new ones. Technology offers a number of outlets for connecting. Zoom meetings aren’t just for work. You can use such online services to organize chats with loved ones or friend groups. If video isn’t your thing, text chats through Facebook messenger can be a way to stay in touch with important people. In addition, there are lots of online learning and social options such as virtual tours, classes, and performances. Try to take advantage of some of these outlets for connection. it can do wonders for your mood and mental state.
Many who are spending the majority of their time at home are experiencing disruptions to their sleep cycles. The time you’re spending online might also contribute to a change in your slumber habits. Good sleep is crucial to overall wellness. Not getting enough rest can have you feeling groggy, cranky, depressed, anxious, and stressed. Your productivity can also be negatively affected if you’re not getting plenty of sleep.
Improving your sleep habits can be one way to overcome the negative mental health effects you may be experiencing due to your other life changes. You can take some control of this aspect by adhering to a regular sleep schedule. Shoot for getting eight hours of sleep each day.
Choose a bedtime and stick to it. Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed. Turning off electronics an hour before bed can help you fall asleep better. So can making your bedroom as conducive to sleep as possible. Dim the lights as you prepare for sleep. Read or listen to music quietly. Get the best quality mattress you can afford. You’re likely to notice that things begin to seem quite a bit better once you get your sleep patterns in order.
Health and Wellness
Paying better attention to your general health will go far toward improving your mental health. Taking care of your physical condition can go a long way toward making you feel better emotionally. That means trying to eat a healthy diet and getting exercise. These things can be especially important if you find yourself primarily housebound. Stress eating is understandable, but you may be surprised what making a few healthy substitutes can do for your energy level and confidence. Getting out for a safe and socially-distanced walk around the block, bike ride, or hike in the woods are wonderful ways to move your body and experience a change of scenery. You’ll feel happier and more alert when you return.
Taking care of your mental health is obviously part of managing your wellbeing. Don’t hesitate to seek out professional assistance if you’re feeling overwhelmed. There are online programs and counseling available that are safe and confidential. Whether you seek counseling for anxiety or for specific mental health problems, you will almost certainly find benefit in such activities.
There are steps you can take on your own to improve your mood. Give some of these suggestions a try. Your mental health should definitely be a priority in 2021.
We all want to be happier and healthier, however, how to achieve it, is a million dollar question. Luckily, I have compiled a number of things you can do. The following are five ways to accomplish what you want, but bear in mind, it is going to take some work.
1. Dealing With the Physical
Take care of your body if you haven’t been doing so. This means doing everything you can to be your best self, which includes visiting your doctor to make sure your body is working as it should. This step will definitely make you happier and healthier.
On top of that, consistently work on eating well and exercising. Taking an active interest in your overall health should help you feel good. Try to make a habit out of this because happiness and health are life-long battles.
2. Addressing the Issue
Embrace your imperfections. Everyone has a few imperfections that do not fit society’s standard of beauty. However, don’t mistake things that make you unique versus things you can make better, like misaligned teeth. If it bothers you that much, go the extra mile of visiting a dentist. You can also try to address other imperfections, like if you’re losing your hair. You may have to use things like Theradome to help reverse this problem. Be sure to read Theradome reviews before you make your decision, but this should boost happiness and your self esteem.
3. Improving Your Lifestyle
Your lifestyle could also be fighting against your happiness and health. You could take the time to think about your life, and try to figure out where you can make some changes. These changes should help you feel happier and make you healthier.
For example, if you tend to stay up too late, you should fight this habit. Sleep can help regulate your overall mood, and that’ll make you feel happier. In addition to that, sleep also helps your body repair itself, which should make you feel healthier in the long run. Vices such as constantly drinking or smoking is detrimental to your health. Giving these up should help your health, and the accomplishment should uplift you.
4. Let the Heart Drive
It’s important to do something that brings your heart joy, and this goes beyond doing what you’re passionate about. You need to figure out how you can give back in some way. Doing a little charity work every so often or making a donation can do a lot for you. Being altruistic can help your soul sing, and that can help your overall self esteem.
Sometimes, being a good person can fight stress. If you are dealing with chronic stress, you need to find something to do for your mental health. You can try to do a few things until you find something you feel comfortable with. Be patient with yourself. Getting used to this can take some time, but you’ll get there.
5. Positive Friends All Around
The kind of people you have around can be good or bad for you. If you’ve noticed that some of your friends have a way of making you feel worse, then it’s important to minimize contact with these friends. You need to find a group of friends who are willing to back you up every so often and make you feel good about yourself.
This doesn’t mean your friends can’t disagree with you. Sometimes, you need a little push back as this can help you see things more clearly. What you don’t need is a person who constantly depresses you. This is not going to help you feel happy, and it might end up hurting your mental health. If you need to find new friends, this can be good for you because it will get you out of your comfort zone and give you a chance to meet new people.
Hopefully, you can use some of these to make yourself feel happier and healthier. Always look for more ways to achieve these goals because they aren’t incredibly simple goals to achieve, but they are worth the work.
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.