Why Everyone Should Watch “Toxic Beauty” Documentary

white and brown plastic bottles on white textile

Brief summary of Toxic Beauty

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.

three makeup brushes on top of compact powders

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?

black makeup brush, lipstick, and blush on powder

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

woman in gray sweater holding lipstick

Endocrine disruptors:

  • Mimic hormone activity with links to birth defects, reproductive harm and cancer
  • Found in hair, nail, sunscreen and baby products, makeup, lotions, toothpaste, soap, fragrance

Phthalates:

  • Endocrine disruptors linked to developmental disorders, reproductive harm & cancer
  • Found in fragranced lotions, body wash, hair, skin, baby products, nail polish, perfume, color cosmetics.

Parabens:

  • Endocrine disruptors linked to reproductive harm, developmental disorders, cancer
  • A preservative found in deodorants, antiperspirants, soaps, hair, shaving, fragranced products.

Toxic ingredients and Chemicals to look out for

  • Shampoos containing formaldehyde have a high risk of serving as an endocrine disruptor, and bring about side effects such as allergies, depression, and cancer
  • Deodorants contain endocrine disruptors such as formaldehyde which causes hormone disruption, reproductive problems, and tumors
  • Skin cream containing mercury, coal and tar may serve as endocrine disruptors that causes tremors, insomnia, and/ or cognitive dysfunction
  • Soap containing coal, tar and 1,4 dioxane may serve as endocrine disruptors that causes allergies, infertility and heart disease
  • Fragrance often contain toxic chemicals that are not disclosed and may cause allergies, reproductive disorders, and cancer
  • Skin lighteners containing chemicals hydroquinone and mercury may cause skin disease, organ damage or cancer

References:

“Carbon Black, Titanium Dioxide, and Talc – IARC Publications Website.” https://publications.iarc.fr/Book-And-Report-Series/Iarc-Monographs-On-The-Identification-Of-Carcinogenic-Hazards-To-Humans/Carbon-Black-Titanium-Dioxide-And-Talc-2010. Accessed 10 Apr. 2021.

“The Film — TOXIC BEAUTY.” https://www.toxicbeautydoc.com/the-film. Accessed 10 Apr. 2021.

“TOXIC BEAUTY.” https://www.toxicbeautydoc.com/. Accessed 10 Apr. 2021.

Hand Sanitizers Contain Carcinogens

person holding white plastic pump bottle

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):

yellow hibiscus in clear glass vase

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)

red and white UNKs restaurant

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:

1. artnaturals9. beauty concepts
2. Scentsational Soaps & Candles Inc.10. PureLogic
3. huangjisoo11. Miami Carry On
4. TrueWash12. Natural Wunderz
5. The Creme Shop13. clean-protect-sanitize
6. Star Wars Mandalorian14. Puretize
7. Body Prescriptions15. 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.


References:

 “Phene; Benzene – 1Source – 1Source.com.” https://1source.com/ingredients/phene?lang=eng. Accessed 30 Mar. 2021.

“Carcinogen Found in Hand Sanitizers That Plugged Covid Gap ….” 24 Mar. 2021, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-03-24/carcinogen-found-in-hand-sanitizers-that-plugged-pandemic-gap. Accessed 30 Mar. 2021.

 “Some Hand Sanitizers Made During the Pandemic Have ….” 24 Mar. 2021, https://www.businessinsider.com/hand-sanitizers-made-covid-coronavirus-pandemic-carcinogen-benzene-2021-3. Accessed 30 Mar. 2021.

 “Some hand sanitizers found tainted with cancer … – Chicago Tribune.” 25 Mar. 2021, https://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-biz-covid-hand-sanitizer-benzene-carcinogen-20210324-xfnmhfztorfcflursbxdyd5esu-story.html. Accessed 30 Mar. 2021.

“Watch Fox News Channel and Fox Business … – Fox News Video.” 18 Jul. 2012, https://video.foxnews.com/v/5614615980001. Accessed 30 Mar. 2021.

 “Valisure Detects Benzene in Hand Sanitizers – Valisure.” 24 Mar. 2021, https://www.valisure.com/blog/valisure-news/valisure-detects-benzene-in-hand-sanitizers/. Accessed 30 Mar. 2021.

 “Valisure’s FDA Citizen Petition on Hand Sanitizer.” 24 Mar. 2021, https://www.valisure.com/wp-content/uploads/Valisure-FDA-Citizen-Petition-on-Hand-Sanitizer-v4.14.pdf. Accessed 30 Mar. 2021.

The Link Between Cooking and Your Mental Health

smiling woman standing and putting pepper on stock pot

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.

person cutting vegetables with knife

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.

assorted fruits and vegetable on brown wooden chopping board

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.

man in black and white stripe polo shirt holding bread


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.

person filling her plate


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.

As we’ve mentioned before in our post on ‘Why Mental Health Should be Your Top Priority in 2021’, it’s important to pay attention to your mental well-being, given the effects of COVID-19. Take care of yourself by building positive habits like cooking, which nourishes both your body and your mind.



the Disappointing thing about good cosmetics…

Having been contributing to the 1Source blog, the platform has introduced me to the deeper side of the beauty industry, especially as a skincare junkie, I became more aware about the ingredients that I put onto my skin.

Using 1Source upload / scan, the revelation of ingredients leaves a long lasting impression about a product I use. And it certainly becomes disappointing when a product I really like has suspicious toxic chemicals.

Common toxic chemicals I find in good products are Phenoxyethanol and suspicious Colorants.

Example: Phenoxyethanol – How I personally use the app

To clarify, Phenoxyethanol is not a ‘bad’ chemical in skincare products. It’s a ‘great’ preservative and the best, for now – it replaced Formaldehyde, which to me looks like a sign that cosmetic brands are regularly finding / forming better and advanced chemicals for us.

Here is an excerpt of what Paula’s Choice (skincare and makeup focused site) had to say about Phenoxyethanol

‘Phenoxyethanol is a widely used synthetic preservative that has global approval for use in all cosmetic products in concentrations up to 1%’

‘The rest of the alarming studies are about using phenoxyethanol in full-strength or atypically high concentrations, not the amounts of 1% or less used in cosmetic products. Think of it as the difference between taking one sip of wine versus chugging several bottles at once!’

Hence approving and debunking the demonization of Phenoxyethanol.

However, the information 1Source Ingredients that provide about Phenoxyethanol should also not be ignored. As a science focused ingredient analyzer, 1Source’s ingredient information tab provides a summary of the ingredients and corresponding it to the potential risk index (PRI)

1Source’s PRI of Phenoxyethanol

Overall Phenoxyethanol has a rating of 5

‘Some blogs may claim that there is a link to ovarian cancer but the correlation has yet to be accepted by the scientific community as definitive…An alternative to formaldehyde-releasing preservatives’

And in the recent findings section. It has warnings and summary of scientific discoveries of the chemical, for example suggesting to not use it for new born babies and informing the ecotoxicity of the chemical.

Overall, the EU SCCS has classified phenoxyethanol as safe for use as a preservative with a maximum concentration of 1.0%. However, care should still be taken when using products with phenoxyethanol, given its potential as a skin irritant.’

Conscious Buying

So that’s how I use the 1Source app/site, it provides information that I find skincare focused sites seem to lack. I don’t only want to know if it would be good or bad for my skin. I want to know why it would be good or bad. I also like to know about the background of the ingredient more as a chemical substance rather than a name in an ingredient label on the back of a packaging. That, to me, is conscious buying.

I am in no way calling out other sites or am comparing 1Source to Paula’s Choice. Paula’s Choice is indeed reliable and informative, and of course, I will use it when it comes to choosing makeup and skincare products, as I use 1Source as well.

The Conspiracy of non-regulated chemicals

A few days ago, I came across a tiktok (unfortunately, I can’t find it anymore) where a user shows a list of chemicals that are banned in the EU for food / cosmetic uses that are fine in the USA.

From what I remember, he points out that the overall health of the European population tends to be better than that of the US is because the FDA is not as strict as the EU consumer regulations. He added that the reason is because unlike Europe which has freer healthcare and is seen like a social welfare, health care in the US is an economy or to be more accurate, a business of its own. The conspiracy is that if the unhealthy and toxic chemicals are banned, there would be less patients which threatens the economy of the country. 

Though, convincing. It doesn’t explain why some EU banned chemicals are in Hong Kong stores when public healthcare in Hong Kong is more similar to the EU rather than the USA.

According to Oliver Milman on the Guardian,  In cosmetics alone, the EU has banned or restricted more than 1,300 chemicals while the US has outlawed or curbed just 11.

Milman: ‘The clout of powerful industry interests, combined with a regulatory system that demands a high level of proof of harm before any action is taken, has led to the American public being routinely exposed to chemicals that have been rubbed out of the lives of people in countries such as the UK, Germany and France.

From this article, Asbestos was used as an example of the poor regulatory system of the US. ‘Asbestos exposure has long been known to cause deaths and illnesses but the substance is still not banned in the US. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) attempted to do so in 1989 only to be overturned by the federal court following a backlash from manufacturers.

In 1source, all types of Asbestos are labeled as a hazard. This substance has been classified as a Group 1 carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

As much as it is fun to entertain the conspiracy. The fact is that the FDA in the USA is limited by law. According to them: FDA does not have the legal authority to approve cosmetics before they go on the market, although we do approve color additives used in them (except coal tar hair dyes)… FDA can take action against a cosmetic on the market if we have reliable information showing that it is adulterated or misbranded.

As I read this, I realized that it isn’t just makeup or skincare products that is not strictly checked. This applies to tattoo inks as they are categorized as cosmetics to the FDA too. The pattern becomes more apparent. ‘A report by Bioelements and Health Unit Italian Ministry for Health Roma categorized the heavy metals into different colorants and their health effects were reported to vary from mild irritations to harming of the brain.’

(click here to read more about the dangers of tattoo inks)

Products I use that I found to have ‘toxic’ or banned chemicals

Disclaimer: this section of the article is to show the products that I used that surprised me with it’s ingredient compounds. The performance and my “love” for the product has no relevance to this section.

Neutrogena Deep Clean Blackhead Eliminating Daily Scrub

This includes the colorant CI 73360 a.k.a Red 30 which is an Environmental Hazard.

Yves Saint Laurent TOP SECRETS Instant Moisture Glow

This includes the colorant CI 14700 a.k.a Red 4. This substance has been prohibited by the European Commission for use in cosmetic products.

FENTY BEAUTY Gloss Bomb Universal Lip Luminizer – Shimmering Rose Nude)

This includes the colorant CI 15850 a.k.a Red 6. This substance has been prohibited by the European Commission for use in cosmetic products.

Superdrug Vitamin E Skincare Gentle Micellar Solution

It says Bronopol – May release Formaldehyde under aqueous conditions, such as contacting with water or in humid conditions, which is quite an eye opener.

It also has Benzophenone-4. This compound is categorized in WHO International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) 2018 – Group 2B

Honorable mentions of products that I like which are 1Source acceptable

Visible Ingredients SPRAY MASK



Overall Rating: 1

La Roche Posay Toleriane Ultra Night Soothing Repair Moisturizer

Overall rating: 3

Tony Moly Egg Pore Blackhead Steam Balm

Overall rating: 4

Vichy Mineral 89

Overall rating: 4

Conclusion:

Comparing my consumer behavior now to before, it’s empowering to see how more aware I became with the products I use. Buying consumer goods is in my power even if I am to choose to buy a product with a chemical to look out for, I would at least know now.


References:

 “Formaldehyde – 1Source – 1Source.com.” https://1source.com/ingredients/formaldehyde. Accessed 5 Mar. 2021.

“phenoxyethanol | Paula’s Choice.” https://www.paulaschoice.com/ingredient-dictionary/preservatives/phenoxyethanol.html. Accessed 5 Mar. 2021.

“Phenoxyethanol – 1Source.” https://1source.com/ingredients/phenoxyethanol. Accessed 5 Mar. 2021.

“US cosmetics are full of chemicals banned by Europe – why? | US ….” 22 May. 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/may/22/chemicals-in-cosmetics-us-restricted-eu. Accessed 5 Mar. 2021.

“Asbestos – 1Source – 1Source.com.” https://1source.com/ingredients/asbestos?lang=eng. Accessed 5 Mar. 2021.

“Cosmetics Q&A: Why are cosmetics not FDA-approved? | FDA.” 24 Aug. 2020, https://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/resources-consumers-cosmetics/cosmetics-qa-why-are-cosmetics-not-fda-approved. Accessed 5 Mar. 2021.

 “Tattoo Taboo: Think before you Ink – 1Source.” https://1source.com/holistic/tattoo-inks-what-you-should-worry-about. Accessed 5 Mar. 2021.

Are Sugar Substitutes Better Than Sugar?

six teal icing cupcakes with sprinkles

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.

Table of contents:

Why is there a demand for sugar substitutions?

brown donuts on white tray

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

coned ice cream with blueberries and flowers

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

Monster Punch can

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:

General information on low-calorie sweeteners
Source: Centre of Food Safety

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.

chocolates with box on white surface

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”

Sugar alcohols

woman in white crew neck shirt blowing bubble

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.

Natural sweeteners

honey jar with honey comb

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
  • Honey
  • Molasses
  • Maple syrup
  • Stevia
  • Monk fruit (luo han guo)

Moderation is key

vegetables and fruits display

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.


References:

“Artificial sweeteners vs sugar (stevia, aspartame & more) | CHOICE.” 12 Jun. 2020, https://www.choice.com.au/food-and-drink/nutrition/sugar/articles/sweeteners. Accessed 17 Feb. 2021.

“Global Zero-Calorie Sweetener Market Trends and Analysis 2017 ….” 28 Mar. 2017, https://www.newswire.com/news/global-zero-calorie-sweetener-market-trends-and-analysis-2017-2021. Accessed 17 Feb. 2021.

 “Sugar: the facts – NHS.” https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/how-does-sugar-in-our-diet-affect-our-health/. Accessed 17 Feb. 2021.

“Association between intake of non-sugar sweeteners … – The BMJ |.” 2 Jan. 2019, https://www.bmj.com/content/364/bmj.k4718. Accessed 17 Feb. 2021.

 “Low-Calorie Sweeteners | The Nutrition Source | Harvard T.H. Chan ….” https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-drinks/artificial-sweeteners/. Accessed 17 Feb. 2021.

 “The truth about artificial sweeteners – Are they … – ScienceDirect.com.” https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0019483218300142. Accessed 17 Feb. 2021

“Constantin Fahlberg – Discovery of Saccharin.” https://todayinsci.com/F/Fahlberg_Constantin/FahlbergConstantin-Saccharin.htm. Accessed 17 Feb. 2021.

 “Sweeteners in Food – Centre for Food Safety.” https://www.cfs.gov.hk/english/multimedia/multimedia_pub/multimedia_pub_fsf_08_02.html. Accessed 17 Feb. 2021.

 “Artificial sweeteners and other sugar substitutes – Mayo Clinic.” https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/artificial-sweeteners/art-20046936. Accessed 17 Feb. 2021.

Love Potions: when Chemistry is used to make Chemistry

Originally celebrated in Ancient Rome, Valentine’s day, was practiced in a very-extremely-different-bloody way. Before continuing to the topic of the article. Here is an interesting historical lesson on how Valentine’s Day came to be.

(St.) Valentine’s Day replaced the Pegan festival of love and fertility (Lupercalia). The Romans celebrated the holiday drunk and naked, sacrificing a goat and a dog, hitting women with the hide of the dead animals as a ritual to bless them with fertility. Then when Rome converted to Catholicism, they replaced the Pegan name to Valentine in honor of St. Valentine(s), who were ordered to be killed by a Pegan Emperor (Emperor Claudius II) on February 14 (in different years).

Though there were three well known Valentines during those days (who were all martyred). The true origin cannot be accurately pinpointed. However, there are two theories of how their names became honored for the day of love.

  1. Secret Marriages

Emperor Claudius II thought that marriage – having a family in general made men bad soldiers. Therefore, he banned it for young men. Valentine the priest was against this, he proceeded to marry couples in secret. When the Emperor found out, he was sentenced to be killed. However, some believe this missionary was the act of St. Valentine of Terni the bishop, who was also killed by the Emperor.

2. From Your Valentine

When it was illegal to be Christian. A Valentine helped Christians to escape prison, unfortunately, he got sent in. He fell in love with the jailor’s daughter who visits him. Before he was sent to be martyred. He wrote a letter for her, signed with ‘From Your Valentine’

Love Potions: Magic or Chemistry?

According to Elite Daily, Ancient Greeks grounded up orchids into a fine powder and put it in wine for consumption, they did it as a charm for lovers. The Center of Research of Reproduction and Contraception (CRRC) mentioned that the significance of using orchids as an ingredient when it came to ritualistic practice surrounding love has its roots from the Greek physician, Dioscorides. He believed that the orchid plant influenced sexuality, probably because of its erotic appearance. Ever since, the Greeks used orchids as a symbolism of love, sex, fertility and so on.

Therefore, orchids have been used as an Aphrodisiac.

How Aphrodisiac works

Aphrodisiac: substances derived from plants, spices, foods, synthetic ‘chemicals’ that increases sexual desire, sexual pleasure, or sexual behavior.

The International Journal of Impotence Research has done a study on aphrodisiacs as a ‘herbal drug’. It was found that the orchid species, Vanda tessellata and Trichopus zylanicus stimulated ‘mounting behavior of male mice’ and increased the ‘mating performance in mice’.

Other than that, reports also showed that ‘plant has anti inflammatory, antiarthritic, antimicrobial, antipyretic and wound-healing properties’

From this research, Nitric Oxide (NO) has vasodilation (widening of blood vessels) and penile erection functions. NO activates ‘guanylate cyclase and thereby increases the levels of cyclic GMP (cGMP)’ In simpler terms, it means NO stimulates the production of cGMP, the thing that relaxes smooth muscle tissues – thus in blood vessels, increasing blood flow due to vasodilation, by interacting with the lyase enzyme, guanylate cyclase.

The researchers added: ‘The herbal drug appears to be useful for developing as an attractive alternative to Viagra…in this study, a novel aphrodisiac compound…was discovered from an orchid, V. tessellata …The finding has the potential to develop a valuable medicine for sexual dysfunction or erectile dysfunction.’

But why is Aphrodisiac is not exactly recognized by Science?

In an interview on Sunday Morning, Meryl Rosofsky, a physician who teaches food studies at New York University, said ‘Aphrodisiacs are bounded only by our imaginations’.

In the Middle Ages when superstitions and religious philosophy ruled the country, Law of Similarity was theorized and took over how people perceived material terrestrial things. The Law of Similarity is a philosophy that the appearance and design of a natural object represents its God-intended function. ‘If something looked virile and phallic and strong and erect, that it might confer those very properties on whoever consumed it…’

For example, Aphrodisiac got its name from Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of Love. She is illustrated as a God who sprung out of an oyster shell, hence oysters became a common aphrodisiacal food.

Quentin Wheeler on the Guardian, who specializes in articles about biological discoveries – New to Nature, had written a piece about another species of orchid. In it, they ended it with ‘Certain orchid tubers are shaped like testicles, and it has been long claimed that, when consumed, they are an aphrodisiac. This is, of course, a load of bollocks’

Aphrodite, Goddess of Love.

Love in a bottle?

Potions have been around for a long time, we can see this in folk-literature, paintings and even in religious texts. Philter, is a specific name for love potions. During Old English times, potions were on the market sold by Quack doctors. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, Quackery means ‘medical methods that do not work and are only intended to make money’. As Pharmaceutical Journal explains, people visited these ‘doctors’ because pills looked mysterious and suspicious.

Do you know any Novels or Poems that has a Love potion involved? The Love Potion from Wide Sargasso Sea gave Antoinette what she wanted, but she didn’t know it would take a bad turn…

Witchcraft was once fear mongered. According to the UK Parliament, A Witchcraft Act was passed in 1542 to criminalize witchcraft. Between 1560 – 1700, 513 witches were put on trial and 112 were executed (that was known).

Today Witchcraft has its own media, lineage and career. Vice produced an insightful documentary about witchery today, ‘Witchcraft in Romania‘. The documentary goes as correspondent Milène Larsson visiting the town of Mogosoaia, to brew a love potion, a curse, watch an exorcism and celebrate the Summer Solstice, where witches predicts the future.

(If you watch the video, the predictions oddly came true, whether it be coincidence or not)

In Mogosoaia, there lives one of the most famous and respected witches of Romania, Mihaela Minca, daughter of Bratara Buzea, another powerful witch known to be jailed by Communist dictator Ceausescu during the 70s. Today, she is free and feared by politicians. As part of the witch clan, Minca passes down her legacy to her daughters. It is safe to say, witchcraft in Romania will stay for now.

Vrajitoarea Mihaela Minca
Vrajitoarea Bratara on paper

When it comes to Love Potions, there is a specific time and ritual they practice. The Witches only have one chance to brew the love potion every year, as it is only done on the day of the Christian Pentecost festival. The witches go to the meadows and pick traditional plants and herbs, when they pick them they say a specific beautiful chant : Just like these flowers are proud, seen, beautiful and sought after, may it be the same with love and happiness. God bless, may it be so!

After picking them, they go back to the brewing area and boil the plants till the sap excretes from them which then turns to a potion. To use the potion, the person makes a cross sign on their forehead in the morning before sunrise.

Witchcraft in the Modern World?

Larsson asks Bratara : Are you worried about modern times will change this ancient craft?

Bratara responds enthusiastically: On the contrary, it’ll make it known world wide that our power exists.

When Bratara said this, I immediately understood what she meant. Information about witchery is very much accessible today on the internet, just from searching ‘How to make a Love Potion?’ results of Youtube videos of witchcraft tutorials show up. In addition, TikTok, the new and extremely influential platform has a whole community of witches – WitchTok, where witches educate, practice and interact with one another. Likewise, Pinterest has a fair share of witch content, from infographics to video tutorials.

When Love Potions killed a King

It is important to note that there are many types of witchery, Christian rooted, Wiccan, Spiritual or what I’m most familiar with, Buddhist ritualistic practices. Therefore, rituals are different. For example, scouring through the internet, common items when making love potions are rose quartz, apples and an oil. Compared to the Romanian Christian witches who were mentioned, the main ingredient is the sap of some plants.

In Ancient Greece, the Spanish Fly was used to make Love Potions. According to HistoryExtra, the fly would be crushed along with other herbs into a tonic. The results would be a warmth feeling, however, they added it was most likely inflammation rather than desire, because after all, the fly is toxic. The insect excrete a toxic blistering agent called Cantharidin, causing inflammation and blisters.

Spanish Fly, aka Blister Beetle
Spanish Fly on the market, sold as a ‘Love potion’

If you ever heard of the Catholic Monarchs, then you might know of Ferdinand II of Aragon and his Queen, Isabella I of Castile. They are called the Catholic Monarchs because their marriage joined the unification of Spain. The King reigned from 1475 – 1504, his death – theorized to be an effect of drinking many potions containing the Spanish Fly.

While others believed to be just a cause of a possible heart disease – Researchers from ‘The end of a myth: clinical causes of the death of Fernando el Católico’

The Catholic Monarchs

Magic or Chemistry, the point is still Love

Overall, whatever you believe about Love. 2021 Valentine’s Day will be different. Perhaps some couples would have ZOOM dinners, family members sending love hearts over WhatsApp, or spending it with yourself at home. The article shows how humanity levels out the importance of Love. From Scientists experimenting and researching on the ‘love chemicals’ in our brain, to people relying on the meta-physical world. Love is valuable.

Remember! Self-Love is Love too!

References::

“The Dark Origins Of Valentine’s Day : NPR.” 13 Feb. 2011, https://www.npr.org/2011/02/14/133693152/the-dark-origins-of-valentines-day. Accessed 13 Feb. 2021.

 “What is Valentine’s Day and how did it start? – CBBC Newsround.” https://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/16945378. Accessed 13 Feb. 2021.

“History of Valentine’s Day – Facts, Origins & Traditions – HISTORY.” 22 Dec. 2009, https://www.history.com/topics/valentines-day/history-of-valentines-day-2. Accessed 13 Feb. 2021.

“Are Love Potions Real? Here’s What History & Science Have To Say.” 12 Nov. 2019, https://www.elitedaily.com/p/are-love-potions-real-heres-what-history-science-have-to-say-19298441. Accessed 13 Feb. 2021.

“​Making sense of aphrodisiacs – CBS News.” 15 Feb. 2015, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/making-sense-of-aphrodisiacs/. Accessed 13 Feb.

2021.”Home Page – University of Washington.” 28 Nov. 2006, https://depts.washington.edu/popctr/orchids.htm. Accessed 13 Feb. 2021.

 “New to Nature No 138: Gastrodia flexistyloides | Wild … – The Guardian.” https://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/jan/25/orchid-gastrodia-flexistyloides-self-pollination-aphrodisiac. Accessed 13 Feb. 2021.

“One Of The Reasons Why Quackery Seems To Work – Repictblog.” https://seruan.onrender.com/one-of-the-reasons-why-quackery-seems-to-work.html. Accessed 13 Feb. 2021.

 “Witchcraft – UK Parliament.” https://www.parliament.uk/about/living-heritage/transformingsociety/private-lives/religion/overview/witchcraft/. Accessed 13 Feb. 2021.

“Witchcraft in Romania – YouTube.” 19 Jan. 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRckGlNQesk. Accessed 13 Feb. 2021.

“History’s Weirdest Aphrodisiacs And Love Potions – HistoryExtra.” https://www.historyextra.com/period/ancient-history/love-potions-aphrodisiacs-facts-spanish-fly/. Accessed 13 Feb. 2021.

“Blister Beetles: Do Not Touch! – Poison Control.” https://www.poison.org/articles/blister-beetles-do-not-touch-194. Accessed 13 Feb. 2021.

“An investigation dismantles the myth that Fernando El Católico died ….” https://www.archyde.com/an-investigation-dismantles-the-myth-that-fernando-el-catolico-died-from-an-aphrodisiac-overdose/. Accessed 13 Feb. 2021.

The Black Community and the Fashion & Beauty world

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.

The 60-second-rule by Nayamka Roberts (@LaBeautyologist)

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

(https://twitter.com/if_iknewbetter/status/1181618814422794244?s=20)

@_kafayaat: The 60 second rule by @LaBeautyologist has literally changed the entire look of my face! Y’all really need to listen to that free gem! Wash your face for 60 seconds! I promise it works

(https://twitter.com/_kafayaat/status/1137813151876046848?s=20)

@sydmoise: thankful for @LaBeautyologist 60 second rule- CLEANSE UR FAVE FOR 60 SECONDS FOLKS

(https://twitter.com/sydmoise/status/1065762910125858816?s=20)

@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

(https://twitter.com/skincare_hub/status/1115620555724660737?s=20)

Robert’s video on the 60 Second Rule on Youtube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a9yyZ9PysjI&feature=youtu.be

Y2K Aesthetic

Y2K – Network Encyclopedia

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!

Destiny’s Child
Cam’ron
Missy Elliot

Jackie Aina, a Nigerian-American Youtube Star on her video, Things Black Culture Popularized, explains how the Black community started the Y2K fashion wave.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AM7tjVVAGSQ

“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:

Beyonce’s metallic suit in Sweet Dreams MV
Zendaya’s ‘Pretty Girl Swag’
Nicki Minaj’s giraffe pink zip up suit in Super Bass MV

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.

Saweetie
Megan Thee Stallion
Normani

Honorable mentions from Aina’s video:

Styling of baby hairs

Rico Nasty, an American rapper, not only known for her music but also her cool style!

Super long nails

All these iconic looking long nails are worn by the Youtube Star and Influencer, De’arra Taylor

Big Lips

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!

Diana Ross, an American singer and actress from Detroit. She was also the lead singer of the popular 1960s singing group, The Supremes.

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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 1280px-Minstrel_PosterBillyVanWare_edit-1024x758.jpg

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.

Inclusivity

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

Rihanna

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

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.”

SKIN FETISH: SUBLIME SKIN HIGHLIGHTING TRIO

Beauty Bakerie

Cashmere Nicole

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.

ORGANIC EGGS BEAUTY SPONGES
FLOUR SETTING POWDER
EYESCREAM PAINT JOB

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:

https://youtu.be/66ak9PWUyuc

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.


References:

“The PROFESSIONAL skincare tip that will … – YouTube.” 11 Jan. 2019, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a9yyZ9PysjI. Accessed 31 Jan. 2021.

“Four Pioneering Black Cosmetics Entrepreneurs – LiveAbout.” 16 Feb. 2018, https://www.liveabout.com/black-cosmetics-pioneers-2442513. Accessed 31 Jan. 2021.

“Annie Turnbo Malone – Historic Missourians – The State Historical ….” https://historicmissourians.shsmo.org/historicmissourians/name/m/malone/. Accessed 31 Jan. 2021.

 “Things Black Culture Popularized | Jackie Aina – YouTube.” 11 Oct. 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AM7tjVVAGSQ. Accessed 31 Jan. 2021.

“Y2K bug | National Geographic Society.” https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/Y2K-bug/. Accessed 31 Jan. 2021.

 “Times people thought the world was going to end – Insider.” 24 Jan. 2019, https://www.insider.com/apocalypse-end-of-world-predictions-theories-2019-1. Accessed 31 Jan. 2021.

“Huge Moments In Fashion History That Were Inspired By Black Culture.” 6 Oct. 2020, https://www.elle.com/uk/fashion/a34244867/fashion-inspired-by-black-culture/. Accessed 31 Jan. 2021.

 “Minstrel as Costume – Scalar.” https://scalar.usc.edu/works/birthofanindustry/minstrel-as-costume. Accessed 31 Jan. 2021.

 “2019 Plastic Surgery Statistics Report – American Society of ….” https://www.plasticsurgery.org/documents/News/Statistics/2019/plastic-surgery-statistics-full-report-2019.pdf. Accessed 31 Jan. 2021.

“Keeping Up with the Kardashians: Kylie Jenner Plastic ….” 29 Sept. 2020, https://screenrant.com/keeping-kardashians-kuwtk-kylie-jenner-plastic-surgery-timeline/. Accessed 31 Jan. 2021.

 “Shaping Lips with Fillers – NCBI – NIH.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4645142/. Accessed 31 Jan. 2021.

“How do dermal fillers work? – The Victorian Cosmetic Institute.” 17 Aug. 2016, https://www.thevictoriancosmeticinstitute.com.au/2016/08/dermal-fillers-dermal-fillers-skin/. Accessed 31 Jan. 2021.

 “Revenue of the cosmetic & beauty industry in the U.S. 2002 … – Statista.” 24 Nov. 2020, https://www.statista.com/statistics/243742/revenue-of-the-cosmetic-industry-in-the-us/. Accessed 31 Jan. 2021.

“How beauty brands failed women of color – YouTube.” 14 Nov. 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch/v5e4gwDGrNk. Accessed 31 Jan. 2021.

 “Beauty queen: how Pat McGrath became the world’s … – The Guardian.” https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2017/aug/06/beauty-queen-how-pat-mcgrath-revolutionised-makeup. Accessed 31 Jan. 2021.

 “Pat McGrath’s Best Makeup Looks in the Pages of W | W Magazine ….” 21 Jul. 2018, https://www.wmagazine.com/gallery/pat-mcgrath-best-makeup/. Accessed 31 Jan. 2021.

 “The Makeup at Valentino S/S 2020 Was Like Gold Face … – The Cut.” 30 Sept. 2019, https://www.thecut.com/2019/09/valentino-spring-2020-makeup-pat-mcgrath.html. Accessed 31 Jan. 2021.

“Beauty Bakerie: Cruelty Free Cosmetics & Beauty Products.” https://www.beautybakerie.com/. Accessed 31 Jan. 2021.

“Sugar Homes – Beauty Bakerie.” https://www.beautybakerie.com/pages/sugar-homes. Accessed 31 Jan. 2021.

 “Beauty Bakerie Founder Cashmere Nicole Interview – Refinery29.” 6 Nov. 2018, https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/beauty-bakerie-founder-cashmere-nicole-interview. Accessed 31 Jan. 2021.

 “The Changing Faces & Mindset of Black Entrepreneurship … – Medium.” https://medium.com/@BlackMage1987/the-changing-faces-mindset-of-black-entrepreneurship-dd000dbffb1. Accessed 31 Jan. 2021.

 “My experience being a black entrepreneur – YouTube.” 10 Apr. 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66ak9PWUyuc. Accessed 31 Jan. 2021.

4 Foods to Boost Your Immune System

Food is medicine, and the consumption of the right foods can lead us to boost our immune system and protect us against unwanted diseases and colds. Having a good immune system is essential these days as more virulent strains of Covid-19 are appearing all across the globe. As well as taking preventative measures and precautions, take care to add the following foods to your cart during your next trip to the supermarket.

aerial view of people walking on raod

Ginger

white and brown dog paw on red textile

This spicy, yellow, stem is a popular medicinal plant in various cultures and is traditionally used to treat a myriad of conditions such as colds, digestive maladies, fevers, and nausea. Adding slices of fresh or dried ginger in your food to give dishes a lovely aroma. You can also obtain ginger powder and add hot water/ tea to turn it into a comforting drink.

Easing a cold or flu: A study done in 2013 shows fresh ginger is effective against a respiratory virus in human cells. In a separate study, researchers aimed to investigate the popularity of herbal medicine as a treatment for cold or a flu. 69% of the public used herbal medicine out of a total of 300 pharmacies and most found it as effective.

Reducing inflammation: A 2017 review of 16 clinical trials determined that phytochemical properties in ginger leads it to have anti inflammatory properties.

Lowering cancer risk: Ginger is packed with antioxidants and multiple studies have shown that ginger can reduce oxidative stress which occurs when too many free radicals build up in the body. Free radicals are toxic substances produced by metabolism and other factors, according to Medical News Today, and antioxidants are needed to eliminate free radicals to prevent them from causing cellular damage as it can lead to a range of diseases such as cancer.

Relieving nausea: Research shows ginger is able to alleviate morning sickness and relieve nausea from cancer treatments. A study in 2010 observed that ginger was able to reduce nausea in most of 60 children and young adults who underwent chemotherapy. Furthermore, a 2011 review of studies reported that a daily dosage of 1,500mg of ginger extract was able to alleviate symptoms of nausea.

Raspberries

black berry fruit

One cup of these ruby jewels contain over 50% of the minimum daily target for vitamin C which supports immunity, according to Health Magazine. Furthermore, raspberries are packed with other minerals and vitamins such as manganese, vitamin K, vitamin E, magnesium, copper, iron, and potassium. Besides that, they are associated with cancer protection as research shows that phytonutrients in raspberries may signal apoptosis, programming cell death in cancer cells. Another major attraction to raspberries is that they are easy to add to our diet as it can be served as sweet desserts or incorporated into savory dishes.

Cocoa

open cacao fruit lot

Nope, this is not a justification for you to stock up on chocolate bars! Rich in polyphenols, cocoa is a potent antioxidant and is reported to be beneficial for cardiovascular health, brain functions and cancer prevention. More importantly, cocoa influences the immune system, in particularly the inflammatory innate response and the systemic and intestinal adaptive immune response. Look out for cocoa powder (without added sugar) and go wild on different desserts!

Poultry

roasted chicken

When we’re sick, getting a bowl of chicken soup is almost a reflex action. However, there is more to this scenario then we let on. Properties of chicken in the soup may help lower inflammation, thus improve symptoms of a cold. Furthermore, poultry are high in vitamin B-6, which is crucial to the formation of red blood cells. The stock made by boiling chicken bones contains gelatin and other nutrients that are beneficial to improving immunity.


References:

 “Ginger in gastrointestinal disorders: A systematic review of ….” 5 Nov. 2018, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6341159/. Accessed 7 Jan. 2021.

“Anti-emetic effect of ginger powder versus placebo as an add ….” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20842754/. Accessed 7 Jan. 2021.

 “Ginger: Health benefits and dietary tips – Medical News Today.” https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/265990. Accessed 7 Jan. 2021.

“Getting to the Root of Chronic Inflammation: Ginger’s ….” https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780128051863000059. Accessed 7 Jan. 2021.

 “7 Health Benefits of Raspberries | Health.com – Health Magazine.” 20 Mar. 2019, https://www.health.com/food/raspberries-nutrition. Accessed 7 Jan. 2021.

 “The effects of cocoa on the immune system – NCBI – NIH.” 4 Jun. 2013, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3671179/. Accessed 7 Jan. 2021.

 “15 Foods That Boost the Immune System: Citrus, Bell Peppers ….” https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/foods-that-boost-the-immune-system. Accessed 9 Jan. 2021.

Are Red Meats Killing You?

A short walk down the meat aisle show shelves full of packaged slabs of meat, minced meat, and processed meats such as bacon, hot dogs, and sausages and Italian cuts. One thing in common is that all these meats are derived from red meats, notorious for increasing the risk of major chronic diseases. Here, we have compiled a list on why we should try to lower our red meat intake.

sliced vegetable on black textile

Why You Should Lower Your Red Meat Intake

Reduce the risk of developing coronary heart diseases

Over the years, there have been plenty of studies done by researchers warning us against the dangers of red meat. A recent study published in the British Medical Journal went one step further and showed that replacing red meat with plant- based diet can help keep the heart healthy, and even reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.

The study aimed to find out the relationship of red meat and the risk of men developing coronary heart disease in the United States, and to find out if a plant based diet could positively affect the risk of CHD in men. The findings echoed other studies, where processed, unprocessed and total red meat were associated with a modestly higher risk of developing coronary heart disease (CHD).

The study offered an alternative diet solution, and went one step further to report that an intake of one serving per day of combined plant proteins including nuts, legumes, and soy could lower the risk of CHD. Furthermore, the study also found that consuming whole grains and dairy products was associated with a lower risk of CHD.

variety of assorted-color beans

Processed meat contain carcinogens

According to reports by independent academic research organization, Global Burden of Disease Project, about 34,000 cancer deaths per year was linked to diets high in processed meat. The World Health Organization has classified processed meat as increasing the likelihood of developing colorectal cancer based on epidemiological studies conducted by researchers. Some studies have included links of consuming meat with pancreatic and prostate cancer, and stomach cancer.

person slicing meat

Reducing the consumption of red meat and processed meat as recommended by the WHO can help reduce risk of colorectal cancers. Furthermore, reducing our consumption of meat also reduces our intake of fat and sodium, which are risk factors for other cardiovascular diseases and obesity.

Increases risk of type 2 diabetes by 12%

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that consumption of processed and unprocessed red meat in adults increased the risk of them developing type 2 diabetes by 12%. Besides that, the study found that substituting a serving of nuts, low- fat diary and whole grains for one serving of red meat was associated with 16-35% lower risk of type 2 diabetes among adults.

flat lay photography of sliced apples, sausages, chips and brown sauce

So how much protein should we eat?

  • The World Cancer Research Fund recommended a maximum of three servings a week in their 2018 report.
  • The National Academy of Medicine recommends “eating a little over 7 grams of protein for every 20 pounds of body weight”.
round white ceramic plate with lime on top

Can you get enough protein without eating meat?

top view salad with guacamole

Yes, we can. Evidence points that we should cut down the amount of red meat we consume. In an interview with CNN Health, director of health promotion and communication at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s department of nutrition, Lillian Cheung recommends swapping meats for fish, legumes, nuts, seeds, and poultry. However, Cheung notes that it is important to ensure that we still get enough proteins and minerals. Cheung highlighted the importance of taking multivitamins containing iron or B12 vitamins or iron rich foods such as leafy greens, lentils and soybeans to ensure we’re getting sufficient iron while cutting back on red meat.

References:

“Red meat intake and risk of coronary heart disease … – The BMJ.” 2 Dec. 2020, https://www.bmj.com/content/371/bmj.m4141. Accessed 30 Dec. 2020.

 “Cancer: Carcinogenicity of the consumption of red meat and ….” 26 Oct. 2015, https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/cancer-carcinogenicity-of-the-consumption-of-red-meat-and-processed-meat. Accessed 31 Dec. 2020.

 “Healthy swaps key to reducing red meat intake during the ….” https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/hsph-in-the-news/reducing-red-meat-covid/. Accessed 31 Dec. 2020.

“Worried about beef shortages and price spikes? Here’s how to ….” https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/18/health/eat-less-meat-shortage-wellness/index.html. Accessed 31 Dec. 2020.

 “Red meat consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: 3 cohorts ….” https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/94/4/1088/4598110. Accessed 31 Dec. 2020.

What You Should Know About Clean Eating

In searching for the perfect formula of healthy eating, and achieving our dream body, we’ve seen the rise and fall of all sorts of diet trends. Clean eating is a term thrown around in the health and wellness industry, however, the ambiguity behind this term poses a problem. A study was conducted to find out the perception of clean eating among 1266 adolescents and emerging adults and the definitions obtained were heterogeneous, with 40% describing the term as “non-processed” or “whole foods” and 13% noting “non-GMO” or “organic” components. (Read our article if you’re wondering if you should go organic!)

In a bid to narrow the scope of what constitutes clean eating, we’ve decided to scour the internet for a clearer definition of this term. A narrative we found in common was that it is a diet pattern that focuses on fresh, whole foods while avoiding refined and processed foods as well as preservatives and additives. However, it is up to an individual to determine the rigidity of their eating habits. Some people may go as far as to refuse to eat foods treated with hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides, while others may be more lenient.

cooked dish on gray bowl

“(Clean eating) is a diet pattern that focuses on fresh, whole foods while avoiding refined and processed foods as well as preservatives and additives.”

Whole foods, less preservatives and additives, less salt and sugar? On the surface, the idea of clean eating sounds good. However, a closer look shows how easy it is to fall into the clean eating rabbit hole.

fruit salad on gray bowls

Labelling foods as good and bad

Excessively categorizing foods into good and bad categories may lead us to fall down the rabbit hole of completely avoiding certain foods which may lead to nutrition deficiencies. Some people may refuse to eat any foods containing additives, however, an article published on Medical News Today claimed that there are some beneficial food additives. Vitamin D added into milk was used with the purpose of enhancing bones while iron added to orange juice serve as a source of nutrients for a person.

white liquid in glass cup

Clean eating may lead to eating disorders

Clean eating may unwittingly promote diet restrictions that lead to severe eating disorders as people mentally and physically punish themselves for “eating the wrong thing”. Medical experts coined this phenomena as fixation orthorexia nervosa, a fixation on righteous eating.

A study tracked the eating behavior of 762 women and evidence of diets falling under the banner of orthorexia. The experiment is done in a controlled environment where each subject is required to log their meals into an app. The results were then organized into a chart and a pattern is deduced from it. Those adhering to dietary advice are more likely to exhibit dietary restraint which may lead to more obsessive practices and develop into an eating disorder. This study shows the negative effects that diet restriction can have on an individuals mental health, as different eating disorders are results from eating too ‘clean’.  

women taking selfie

Takeaway

While magazines, and articles glorify clean eating and sing praises about its effects of glowing skin, and heightened energy, an article in the British Medical Journal refuted these claims as a “loose interpretation of facts” as other less restrictive diets can also do the same things. With the right mind set, eating clean is beneficial to the human body as we opt out artificial additives, preservatives and instead aim to eat a healthy diet full of whole foods. (Read here to find out top 5 healthiest cuisines in the world) However, excessive worry and focus on finding the cleanest foods may instead put a person under stress and morph into eating disorders and nutritional deficiencies.

Instead, of categorizing foods as good and bad, aim to eat a healthy variety of foods. Here is a recommendation of what a healthy meal should look like from Harvard University.

Healthy Eating Plate

References:

 ““It’s Healthy Because It’s Natural.” Perceptions of “Clean ….” 7 Jun. 2020, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7352986/. Accessed 29 Dec. 2020.

 “Clean eating: 3 myths and truths – Medical News Today.” 9 Feb. 2018, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320865. Accessed 29 Dec. 2020.

 “11 Simple Ways to Start Clean Eating Today – Healthline.” 8 Apr. 2019, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-ways-to-eat-clean. Accessed 29 Dec. 2020.

 “Margaret McCartney: Clean eating and the cult of healthism ….” https://www.bmj.com/content/354/bmj.i4095. Accessed 29 Dec. 2020.

“(PDF) Is #cleaneating a healthy or harmful dietary strategy ….” https://www.researchgate.net/publication/333567123_Is_cleaneating_a_healthy_or_harmful_dietary_strategy_Perceptions_of_clean_eating_and_associations_with_disordered_eating_among_young_adults. Accessed 30 Dec. 2020.

 “Healthy Eating Plate | The Nutrition Source ….” https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-eating-plate/. Accessed 30 Dec. 2020.