Health apps you need to filter skincare noise

Buying a good moisturizer is a quest that involved multiple tabs on Google, crosschecking ingredient lists, potential health implications, product reviews from your favorite influencer, company brand image. However, more often than not, the chemical jargon leaves us feeling more confused than ever. (RIP mental health)

Everyone should use health apps!

Glycolic acid. Titanium dioxide. Niacinamide. These are some common ingredients in skincare products but what do they mean? It feels like we need a degree in chemistry just to understand the ingredients in our everyday beauty products. Why make it so complicated? The cosmetic line makes it compulsory for products to label their ingredients according to the International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI) system to standardize the naming of ingredients globally. The results? It makes no sense to shoppers.

If we are allergic to eggs, it is easy to avoid all products with eggs on their ingredient label, but for skincare products, it is much more complicated than that. What’s the purpose of having chemical compounds on a tiny ingredient label if we do not understand them?

You have the right to know what’s in YOUR products

Consumers have the right to know and understand individual contents of products they purchase. There is a need for complete ingredient transparency to raise awareness around consumer rights in the blur of marketing hypes and ambiguous labels. This is crucial as consumers need to be able to understand what’s in their products in order to choose the least harmful products.

health is a priority!

How do we decode cosmetic ingredient labels?

Health apps and websites. Fortunately, there are many apps that function as ingredient analyzers to determine the components of your product and a thorough analysis and summary of its ingredients. They do the hard work for you of looking into science journals to come up with a paragraph long summary explaining the functions and features of the ingredient/ product.

Jump to:

1Source
INCIDecoder
Code Check
Think Dirty

1Source

Ingredient analyzers have popped up over the years to accumulate a database of products and ingredients to breakdown the ingredients into lay man friendly, bite sized factoids.

With a database of 500,000 ingredients and consumer product data, 1Source breaks down complicated chemical jargon into page long summaries about main features of ingredients, and backs it up with links from medical and scientific journals for those who intend to have a deeper understanding of the ingredients. Product can’t be found on the database? Just take a picture and upload the product to our website / app in just a few clicks!

Other Features:

Potential Risk Index

Furthermore, 1Source curated its very own potential risk index to determine the harmfulness of a product. An ingredient will be assigned a level 1 rating (green) to level 10 rating if it has been banned or classified as a carcinogen by the IRAC. The rating of green, yellow and red make it easy to determine the safety of the product.

Health ratings

Health Filter

Besides being an ingredient analyzer site, 1Source is the only site in the world that screens products based on personal health conditions. Our app also allows users to quickly scan barcodes of products and alert them if any hazardous chemicals are found. Simply by inputting your own health profile our website, the app can help filter and find products which will not trigger your health conditions and warn you of those that do.


INCIDecoder

This soft purple and white color scheme with simple infographics is cute and easy on the eyes. The website contains basic functions, making it user friendly and easy to navigate. Highlights of its functions include searching for a product or ingredient, showcasing products and cute infographics featuring different chemical compounds.

Product / Ingredient Ratings

INCIDecoder contains rating system from ” no rating” (functional ingredients) to “superstar” ingredients which does good things for the skin and is backed by research. After looking at this rating, INCIDecoder makes it possible to look for products with or without certain ingredients. Product not in the system? Create an account and upload it.


Code Check

Code Check is an app only platform that scans product barcode and rates ingredients based on scientific sources. The app is first ever ingredient analyzer in the industry and aims to help people discover cleaner and healthier product alternatives. Ratings can be adjusted according to preference. However, the rating system is a little impractical and hard to decipher as the overlapping ratings make it hard to understand at one glance.

Courtesy of Code Check

Think Dirty

This app only platform contains over 850,000 cosmetics from Canada and the US. They have a rating called Dirty Meter which comprises of ingredient information, certifications and health impacts.

My Bathroom Rating:

Keeps track of what you already have in your bathroom. Figure out your current bathroom rating, and track your process on “cleaning” it up.

Shopping lists:

Identical to Amazon or other E-commerce websites, save products to a basket to make shopping easier.

Shop now:

Want a particular product? Buy them directly from Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Well.ca, Sephora.com and more!

UPC Submission: Can’t find your product on the database, scan the barcode of the product and submit it to the app.

Courtesy of Think Dirty on google app store

A more sustainable world

If consumers were to understand individual components in their products and its toxicity, consumers will start making smart, informed decisions and choose less harmful and toxic products. The whole cycle changes.The supply chain and the environment becomes cleaner. What we need for a more Eco friendly and sustainable world is lesser marketing hypes, smarter consumer choices and a world of ingredient transparency.

20% of Spices in your Cupboard have Toxins

In a recent discovery by the Consumer Council in Hong Kong, 20% of popular retail spices contain carcinogenic aflatoxins. But why is this a concern?

With the pandemic still at large in many countries, we have been cooking at home more often. We tend to think home cooked meals are generally safe because we know what ingredients we are using. But what we do not know is how these raw ingredients are being produced.

The Study

The Consumer Council selected and tested 37 dried spices that were popular items in the kitchen. Many of the spices came from popular chain supermarket stores, making them heavily accessible. Here were the findings:

  • 24% were found to contain aflatoxins (AFs) and/or ochratoxin A (OTA)
  • 1 curry powder sample had exceeded the content regularly limit for the EU and Hong Kong

It was urged by the Consumer Council for producers of the spices to improve the production process to reduce the level of aflatoxins levels.

The samples that contained that contained AFs were 3 white peppers, 2 curry powder and 1 garlic powder. So there is no particular spice that has this problem, it can happen in any kind of dried spice.

What are Aflatoxins?

Aflatoxins are more common than you think. They can occur in foods such as nuts, rice and other dried foods like spices and cocoa beans because of a fungal contamination before and after harvest. It is a natural process but can be avoided.

Aflatoxins are poisonous carcinogens and mutagens that has been classified as a Group 1 by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

What are the safety hazards of products containing Aflatoxins?

  • Fatal if swallowed (H300)
  • Fatal in contact with skin (H310)
  • Fatal if inhaled (H330)
  • May cause cancer (H350)

1Source Health Tips

There are a few things we can do to improve the safety of our home cooking with dried spices.

  • Take note of the product label. Highlight the shelf life and expiry date.
  • Make sure the product packaging is intact to avoid any contamination.
  • Store in a tightly sealed container after opening and in a cool dry place.
  • Reduce the amount of spices to reduce the amount of intake of toxins.

With more knowledge comes better decision making. Take more time to examine your products to make the more beneficial decision. Just because a product is cheap and in the shelves of a supermarket, does not mean it is free of toxins.

“Low sugar” labels on beverages are lies

As people become more health conscious, many of us opt for healthier options when doing our shopping. We choose “low sugar” and “zero sugar” options to try to cut down our sugar intake, however, studies show that these labels are fallacious claims.

sugar-y drinks

The Consumer Council tested 51 beverages with sweeteners with zero calories, however the results of the research showed that many samples were still rich in sugar despite the addition of sweeteners. The beverages tested included 18 non-alcohol carbonated drinks, 16 sports and energy drinks and 17 other drinks ranging from fruit juices, yoghurt drinks and flavored bottled water. The Council cross checked the sugar contents of the samples against its nutrition labels and tested the amount of sweeteners it contained.

sugar!

Samples do not comply with “low sugar” regulations!

Food and Drugs (Composition and labelling) Regulations states that products with “low sugar” or “zero sugar” should not contain more than 0.5g -5g of free sugar per 100ml. However, The Council’s research shows that up to 36 samples abused this guideline, with sugar ranging to 14g per 100ml, more than double than what was stated in the regulation.

Two drinks easily takes us over the sugar limit!

The recommended daily intake for sugar is 50g, according to the World Health Organization, however, 40% of the samples had nearly half the level of recommended daily sugar intake in just one can.

Issue of laws and legalities

  • According to the Sweeteners in Food Regulations in Hong Kong, food manufacturers and food importers can only use or sell food products using 10 permitted sweeteners, however there is no regulation on the amount of different sweeteners used.
  • Some sweeteners detected in some samples did not match with nutrition labels.
  • Some samples lacked identification of sweeteners as required by the law.

Health risks:

Sweeteners are a “sugar substitute 100x sweeter than sucrose” that is neither digested nor absorbed by the body, according to Hong Kong Consumer Council. 4 types of sweeteners were tested in this study, including acesulfame potassium/ACE-K, aspartame, sucralose and steviol glycosides. Although it has no calories and does not affect blood glucose levels, research shows that it still poses its own health risks.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer conducted a study of over 400, 000 individuals and found that people who consumed sweetened beverages more frequently faced a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases. Those with a regular consumption of at least 2 cans of soft drinks with sweeteners per day had a 26% higher mortality rate than those who drink less than one can per month.

Advise:

  • Contrary to popular belief, artificially sweetened beverages don’t help your weight loss journey. Studies revealed that they increase sweet cravings and make people desire sweeter foods.
  • Sports and energy drinks have connotations to health and fitness brand. However, this study found that many sports and energy drinks contained sweeteners irrespective of natural sugar contents. Consider diluting energy drinks with water and refrain from drinking excessively.
  • Beware of caffeine and other stimulants in your drinks!

6 Natural Dry and Sensitive Skin Remedies

Natural is becoming the more sought after method of treatment due to the many hazardous ingredients that are in shelved products. The ingredient label doesn’t tell you much about what is inside a product. There is no clear indication of what ingredients are safe and which ones are hazardous.

What natural remedies are out there that can help with our skincare routine? Here are 6 to get you started!

1. Coconut Oil

Natural Dry and Sensitive Skin Remedies – Coconut Oil

Coconut oil, or copra oil, is an edible oil extracted from the kernel or meat of mature coconuts harvested from the coconut palm (Cocos nucifera). Coconut oil is 99% fat, composed mainly of saturated fats. It has various applications.

A natural remedy that is recommended by the National Eczema Association as it can help prevent infection. It is highly recommended for those with patches of inflamed skin that are prone to cracking and oozing. The antibacterial abilities of coconut oil can reduce staph bacteria on the skin.

Coconut can be used as a natural moisturizer. It is made by extracting from the coconut meat. Choosing the right product is vital, as virgin or cold-pressed coconut oils are the ones without chemicals.

2. Chamomile

Natural Dry and Sensitive Skin Remedies – Chamomile

Something I used as a child and saw great improvements to my Eczema. Highly known for its antioxidant properties, Chamomile is a medicinally recognized plant that promotes skin health by tightening the skin and improving complexion.

2014 study showed that Chamomile lotion can be equally effective as hydrocortisone, making it a natural alternative to the cream.

Chamomile cream/lotion can be bought over-the-counter, so no prescription is needed. Chamomile tea can be used to massaged into the skin as an alternative.

3. Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)

Apple cider vinegar has many uses, but did you know it can be used as an exfoliant? It can help to remove dead skin and stimulate healthy skin growth. It is well known for its antiseptic and antibiotic properties.

Apple cider vinegar has the vitamins and nutrients needed to regenerate skin cells. When applying, dilute a small amount with water. Apply to your skin and leave it for a few minutes before washing the mixture off with water.

Along with oatmeal, it can be used to exfoliate your skin and soothe Eczema symptoms in baths. Be sure to use the right amount of dilution to prevent irritation. Consult a doctor or dermatologist for more feedback.

4. Turmeric

Natural Dry and Sensitive Skin Remedies – Turmeric

Turmeric is a herb well known for its anti-inflammatory properties that contains curcumin. Curcumin is a rich in antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties compound.

Turmeric cream can help speed up wound healing and reduce scarring for Cesarean wounds according to a 2015 study.

Top tip, you can actually mix honey and turmeric together for a more effective paste to treat Eczema scars. Apply the paste and let it sit on your skin for 10-20 minutes, then rinse off with lukewarm water.

5. Sunflower Oil

Natural Dry and Sensitive Skin Remedies – Sunflower Oil

Another oil on the list! This time it is sunflower oil, made by extracting the oils from sunflower seeds. Sunflower oil has proven benefits to the skin that makes it enticing to use.

Sunflower oil is the non-volatile oil pressed from the seeds of sunflower (Helianthus annuus). Sunflower oil is commonly used in food as a frying oil, and in cosmetic formulations as an emollient.

Sunflower oil can hydrate skin, preventing inflammation and itching. It protects the skin’s out layer, which keeps the bacteria out. This is proven by research, making it a must to try out in terms of natural remedies.

6. Colloidal Oatmeal

Natural Dry and Sensitive Skin Remedies – Colloidal Oatmeal

Colloidal Oatmeal is a popular treatment to help calm and soften inflamed skin. Colloidal oatmeal is oatmeal grains that have been ground into an extremely fine powder which is then suspended in a bulking liquid.

The properties of the colloidal oatmeal mixture are often derived from the suspension liquid. It can be used as a moisturizer and helps to soothe itchy, scratchy skin or eczema-esque symptoms. It should not be ingested. 

The most popular methods of using colloidal oatmeal in a lukewarm bath and to use it as a paste and apply it to your skin. It should be noted that you must check whether you have an allergic reaction to oats or not first before trying this remedy out.

Caffeine: How Much Should You Be Drinking?

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

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

How does caffeine affect you?

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

Daily dose of caffeine!

How much caffeine should you take?

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

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

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

FDA listed common symptoms of overconsuming coffee as :

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

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

Starbucks Coffee

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

McDonalds Coffee

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

Latte

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

Black Tea

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

Red Bull

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

Coca Cola

Caffeine in coke? What?

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

Why You Should Avoid Protein Supplements

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

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

Why you should be wary of protein supplements?

Protein supplements can look pretty!

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

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

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

Vanilla protein powder? YUM.

Results from the independent study as published on their page:

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

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

Plant based products

Other risks:

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

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

Press: Interview with Headline Daily HK

English translation of Cantonese interview with Headline Daily.

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 Beauty Ingredients You Should Avoid

Ingredient labels on beauty products can be extremely confusing, and it may feel like you need a degree in chemistry to understand terms like Glycolic acid and parabens. The chemical jargon is due to the usage of International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI) system to standardize the naming of ingredients globally. The results? It makes no sense to shoppers.

We come into contact with more than 500 chemicals and toxic substances everyday, according to Medical News Today. It is impossible to avoid chemicals completely, but what we can do is be aware of ingredients that are linked to serious health issues and avoid products that contain certain harmful ingredients and reduce our exposure to them. To make things easy, we have compiled 10 beauty ingredients that you should be wary of.

1. Parabens

Parabens are commonly found in shampoos, moisturizers and body lotions

Rating on 1Source:

Use:

  • Preservatives
  • Fragrances within cosmetic products

Warnings:

  • May cause an allergic reaction and irritation to skin
  • Parabens have been found to interfere with hormone functions as it interferes with estrogen, which causes cancer cells to divide

Laws and Legislation:

  • In Taiwan, the “Standard Table for Cosmetic Preservatives” is limited to 1%

2. Triclosan

Triclosan is commonly found in consumer products, including toothpaste, soaps, detergents and sunscreens.

Rating on 1Source:

Use:

  • Antiseptic / Disinfectant
  • antibacterial and antifungal agent 

Warnings:

  • may cause low-grade colonic inflammation and exacerbate colon-associated diseases
  • Persistence in the human body despite only being exposed to small concentrations

Laws and Legislation:

  • FDA has removed Triclosan from GRAS as of 19 Dec 2017
  • Banned in the EU market since 2017
  • Banned in all sunscreen products from January 1 2020 by the Republic of Palau to protect its coral reefs and UNESCO World Heritage Site

3. Phenoxyethanol

Phenoxyethanol is a colorless liquid with a pleasant odor, it’s most famous appearance in Kylie Jenner’s skincare line. This naturally found or synthetically manufactured compound is a glycol ether used as a perfume fixative, insect repellent, antiseptic, solvent, preservative.

Rating on 1Source:

Use:

  • Actively kills and inhibits the growth of unwanted microorganisms which may be harmful
  • Antioxidant
  • Prevents growth of unwanted microorganisms
  • Used to treat, alleviate, cure or prevent sickness
  • Preservative-

Cons:

  • May cause central nervous system toxicity in newborns
  • May cause a localized toxic sensation of burning and itching to exposed area
  • May be responsible for starting or make neuronal cell damage worse

Laws and Legislation:

  • EU SCCS has classified phenoxyethanol as safe for use as a preservative with a maximum concentration of 1.0%
  • Banned in all sunscreen products from January 1 2020 by the Republic of Palau to protect its coral reefs and UNESCO World Heritage Site

4. Hydroquinone

Produced as an inhibitor, an antioxidant, and an intermediate in the synthesis of dyes, motor fuels, and oils; in photographic processing; and naturally in certain plant species, Hydroquinone is a phenol derivative with antioxidant properties.

Rating on 1Source:

Use:

  • Skin lightening agent
  • Antioxidant – Reduces oxidation to prevent the formation of free radicals which may be harmful to health.

How it works: The chemical inhibits skin discoloration process by interacting with melanin producing cells and decreasing production of pigment

Warnings:

  • It is effective only temporarily and may lighten the surrounding skin, creating “halo” spots, or white spots on your skin
  • Hydroquinone is a phenol derivative with antioxidant properties that can cause toxicity in several organs

5. Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is a colorless poisonous gas synthesized by the oxidation of methanol and used as an antiseptic, disinfectant, histologic fixative, and general-purpose chemical reagent for laboratory applications. It is commonly found in nail polish, hair products, moisturizers.

Rating on 1 Source:

Use:

  • Serves as an antimicrobial preservative that actively kills and inhibits the growth of unwanted microorganisms which may be harmful
  • Acts as a stabilizer and retains the physical characteristics of cosmetics by ensuring the mixture remains in an even state

Warnings:

  • Toxicity
  • Volatility

Laws and Legislation:

  • In 2011, the US National Toxicology Program described formaldehyde as “known to be a human carcinogen”
  • Classified as a Group 1 carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer
  • Hong Kong Consumer Council has implied that formaldehyde should not be present in school uniform materials

5 Lies “Cruelty Free” Brands Tell You

It’s a fact. Skincare brands, cosmetic products and household products with the cute “cruelty free” bunny logo are more likely to get snatched off the shelf than products without the logo. While some brands actually uphold a code of ethics and values, others may use the “cruelty free” stamp, simply as a marketing hype. Contrary to popular belief, there is no standard or legal definition for the term “cruelty free”, giving brands free reign to abuse the term to suit their personal agendas. Yikes.

In a grey area of vague claims and misleading play on words, here is why you should be cautious about “cruelty free”. Always, always, always cross check your sources and ask questions when things don’t seem right.

Here’s why you should be cautious about “cruelty free” stamps

#1

Businesses may claim they don’t test on animals, but engage in third parties to do the testing of products and/or ingredients for them.

The rationale is that the testings are being done by independent laboratories and has no ties to them, however businesses should take responsibility and ownership of how their products are produced and distributed.

#2

This play on words is a bald faced lie aimed to misguide consumers when the product is not tested but the raw ingredients were.

Most of the time, safety testings are done at an ingredient level. Just how many companies actually source raw ingredients and make their products from scratch? Most businesses engage suppliers to purchase raw ingredients hence, it is crucial that they confirm that the suppliers are cruelty free to ensure the legitimacy of their claim.

#3

Companies often like claiming they are “cruelty free” simply because of the psychological effects it’ll have on its consumers.

In reality, the label has no standard or legal definition, allowing brands to openly abuse and use the label in order to suit their agendas without any legal consequences.

#4

Companies may have strong stances and views for anti cruelty, such as “we don’t test on animals”, however, they follow up with a “except when required by the law”, painting the picture of animal testing as a unavoidable rule they may have to succumb to.

This play on words is very common for businesses who wish to enter China markets as it is a legal necessity for products to be tested on animals. Companies who wish to tap in to the China market should own up and be transparent about their market choice and decisions, instead of shifting the blame to third parties and independent laboratories.

China's Animal Testing Laws
Credit: Ethical Elephant

Dilemma: Building a Cruelty Free Ecosystem

We’ve seen rapid change and awareness in businesses regarding animal cruelty within their productions, but not enough care for humans and the environment. It is crucial that the whole production chain of supplying, manufacturing, all the way down to distribution and decomposition harms as little lives as possible. Can businesses really claim their products as cruelty free if they harm other inhabitants of the ecosystem?

For example:

  • Titanium dioxide , an ingredient largely used as a physical sunscreen is classified as carcinogenic by the WHO. The particles of titanium oxide are smaller than micro beads, making its dust hazardous to health leaving workers manufacturing this product vulnerable to lung cancer. Furthermore, at the end of its shelf life, nano particles end up in the ocean as our current waste management system is inept at filtering nano particles. Fishes end up eating the particles, and we end up poisoned as we consume fish.

1Source view: 1Source aims to empower consumers with ingredient awareness such that they are able to use our site, scan the ingredients within their household products and determine for themselves if the products are harmful to the livelihood of others

The dream will be to cultivate all products with minimal harmful ingredients such that a cleaner supply chain is built, leading to a more sustainable world. It is crucial that we need to build consumer awareness such that consumers know how to purchase products that do not contain harmful ingredients. Harmful ingredients cause more trouble than its worth, as workers involved in production will reap its negative effects, and at the end of the shelf live, should the product containing toxic ingredients is disposed inappropriately, the harmful ingredients will find its way back to harm the environment, and in a matter of time, us.

5 Benefits of Walking

Face it, we’ve all judged those who spend hours on the treadmill critically. Unbeknownst to us, walking actually provides a plethora of health benefits. Besides increasing oxygen flow within the body, walking results in increased levels of cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine, a cocktail of hormones that help elevate energy levels.  The plethora of health benefits led Dr. Thomas Frieden, former director of the Centres for  Disease Control and Prevention to describe walking as the “closest thing we have to a wonder drug”. 

It halves the effect of weight producing genes

Harvard researchers conducted an experiment with over 120,000 people and focused on 32 genes linked to body mass index (BMI), a ratio of height and weight used to determine obesity. Besides the obvious burning of calories, researchers found out that the effect of weight producing genes was reduced by 50% by those who walked briskly for up to an hour a day.

Chromosomes

Strengthens the heart

Walking up to 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week is reported to be able to reduce the risk of developing coronary heart disease by about 19%. The risk is reduced when the duration or distance walked per day increases. 

Eases joint pain 

Several studies found that walking reduces arthritis- related pain, as walking helps lubricate and strengthen muscles that support the joints. Studies show that walking up to five to six miles a week can even prevent arthritis from forming in the first place. 

Reduces the risk of developing breast cancer 

The American Cancer Society study focused on walking found that women who walked more than seven hours a week have a 14% lower risk of breast cancer than those who walked less than three hours per week. 

Boosts immune function 

A study of over 1000 men and women found that those who walked at least 20 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week had 43% fewer sick days than those who exercised once or less than once a week. Studies reported that even if they did get sick, it was for a shorter duration, and their symptoms were reported to be milder. 

How to get started 

Better Health Channel reports that at least 30 minutes of walking needs to be done most days of the week for one to feel the health benefits. However, if 30 minutes is too strenuous, feel free to break it down into smaller walks of 10 minutes a time, three times a day. 

  • Pick a scenic route and commit to taking a morning / evening stroll 
  • If you commute, get off the bus or train one stop early and walk the rest of the way 
  • Park further away from your office or grocery store to get extra steps in 
  • Consider walking to get from one place to the other 

To get started on walking, all you need is a comfortable pair of walking shoes. Choose a walking route or daily step goal that’s appropriate for your age and level of fitness. Reevaluate your daily routine and try to figure out when you can incorporate walking. 

Takeaway 

Walking is a form of exercise that can be easily done by people of all walks of life and all fitness levels. It is a good idea to get fit and reap the plethora of health benefits.