18 Things I Learned In 2018 ✨

2018 was the year of the highest highs and the lowest lows. It felt like it was the year that gave me the best things in life that I’m most thankful for, but at the same time, it threw me punches I thought I couldn’t ever handle before. But, I’ve learned the most valuable lesson —  to always see the glass half full. We always have a choice with our perspective. Today, I’d like to share how I turned my quote and quote most challenging year to a year full of lessons and personal growth.

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Disclaimer: This is going to be my first and most personal blog post yet.

2018 was the year of the highest highs and the lowest lows. It felt like it was the year that gave me the best things in life that I’m most thankful for, but at the same time, it threw me punches I thought I couldn’t ever handle before. But, I’ve learned the most valuable lesson —  to always see the glass half full. We always have a choice with our perspective. Today, I’d like to share how I turned my quote and quote most challenging year to a year full of lessons and personal growth.

18 Things I Learned in 2018

  1. Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened. People come into our lives for a reason and for a lesson. Whether the person was there for 2 years or 2 seconds, be thankful for the people we have met. Continue reading “18 Things I Learned In 2018 ✨”

Organic vs. Natural: What’s the difference?

Although I am loyal to organic products (exhibit A: my blog title), I would also like to share a bit about natural products in this blog. Natural products are also as good as organic products since they are also made with safe ingredients, however, they are not strictly regulated. Many of us probably confuse the two together, so here’s a quick summary of their differences

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Although I am loyal to organic products (exhibit A: my blog title), I would also like to share a bit about natural products in this blog. Natural products are also healthy to use if they are made with good ingredients, however, since they are not strictly regulated, companies may mislead people when they market their product as “natural” even though there is only 1% natural ingredient, and the rest are still harmful ingredients. Many of us probably confuse the two together, so here’s a quick summary of their differences:

Definition

Organic products refer to items that are produced using organic means. Ingredients are grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, genetically modified organisms, ionizing radiation or sewage sludge.

Natural product items can have both organic and natural ingredients but may be minimally synthesized.

Standards

Organic products have strict standards. Different certification bodies such as BDIH, ICEA, ACO, USDA have to inspect the farm where the ingredients were grown, check that the soil is completely chemical-free, and make sure that the farm is following all the rules of organic standards.

Natural products, on the other hand, have no strict rules and regulations. There are only guidelines such as: no use of artificial colors or flavors, no artificial preservatives, no irradiated ingredients, or no GMOs. From my research, only European certification bodies certify natural products such as ICEA, COSMOS, among others.

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Labels

Organic labels usually have a legal implication. As mentioned, there are specified rules and regulations before a manufacturer can use an organic label. However, this is not always the case. Many manufacturers nowadays can claim their product is organic, even though they are not certified.

Natural labels are used freely by manufacturers since there are no specific guidelines on how to claim that a product is natural, only guidelines.

Health Benefits

Organic products are safer than non-organic and natural products since there are zero chemicals used in production and cultivation.

Natural products are safer than non-organic products but some ingredients may be cultivated by using pesticides and fertilizers.

Price

Organic products are generally more expensive than both non-organic and natural products, but with good reason. These products go through so much certification standards, up to the soil used in cultivating the ingredients.

Natural products may be more expensive than non-organic or non-natural products because of the ingredients used.


SO, WHICH IS BETTER?

I am quite biased in saying that organic is always better than natural, but in reality, they are both safe and good for you. One lady I met in Italy told me that all organic products are natural but not all natural products are organic. We don’t need to choose one over the other,  the key is to be vigilant in checking the ingredients and avoiding harmful chemicals which are bad for our health.

Have questions? Feel free to ask me below!

 

Photos from: pinterest.com

Beware of these 10 cosmetic ingredients

I discovered that a lot of the ingredients manufacturers use are not only harmful to my skin but also hazardous to my health. I have found that there are actually thousands of chemical ingredients used in our everyday products–here are the TOP 10 cosmetic ingredients that you should be aware of:

When I was living in Taiwan last year, I had an American flatmate (Hi Alison!) that was vegan. Her passion for veganism sparked an interest in me and she inspired me to do some research about it as well. Soon after, I learned how the food I ate and the products I used were both harmful to myself and the environment (the second factor is a whole other topic in itself, so today I will stick to the first).

One time, Alison shared with me how she couldn’t find a lot of options for vegan products in Taiwan, so she started making her own eyeliner and toothpaste by herself. It was so interesting for me because I then realized how you really only need a couple of ingredients to make these products.

I then did more and more research about the products that I used and discovered that a lot of the ingredients manufacturers use are not only harmful to my skin but also hazardous to my health.

I have found that there are actually thousands of chemical ingredients used in our everyday products. Since I cannot enumerate all of these, here are the TOP 10 cosmetic ingredients that you should be aware of:

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1. Parabens (Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylparaben)

These ingredients act as preservatives but have hormone-disrupting effects. When used continuously, parabens can collect in breast tissue and stimulate the growth of breast cancer cells. Furthermore:

  • Ethylparaben adds moisture to the skin but causes headache, weakness, nausea and skin irritation.
  • Propylparaben is usually found in plants and insects. It prevents the growth of bacteria and mold to protect products but there have been studies where this ingredient causes the growth of breast cyst.
  • Butylparaben is tasteless, but it numbs the tongue. It is acidic but antimicrobial and antifungal. The effect is that it mimics estrogen and can act has a hormone system disruptor.

2. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) / Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)

SLS and SLES are usually found in shower products such as shampoo, soap and body wash. Additionally, they are also used in oral care products, and in cosmetics. It is a detergent and surfactant, therefore it helps with cleaning. However, it can be contaminated of 1,4-dioxane, which is a known carcinogen. It stays much longer in our bodies, primarily because the liver can’t process it properly. Therefore, this can easily build up in the lungs, brain, heart, and liver.

Other bad effects are: irritation of scalp, gums, and skin, corrosion of skin, hormone imbalance (it increases estrogen for men), causes split hair, frizzy hair, and swelling of face or hands.

3. Cocamide DEA / Cocamide MEA

Cocamide DEA and MEA are not harmful on their own, but when they react with other ingredients, they become carcinogenic. They help with cleansing the skin or hair but causes hair and skin itchiness, dryness, rashes, and eye irritation.

4. Petrolatum

If there is one ingredient that you shouldn’t forget from this list, it’s this one. Petrolatum, when refined (such as petroleum jelly), has no harmful effect on the skin. However, when it is not refined, it may contain PAHs or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons” that are also found in: burning coal, oil, gasoline, trash, tobacco, wood. This ingredient is mostly used in moisturizers because it helps achieve the sticky formulation, but recent studies have shown that this is actually a cancer-causing ingredient. There’s actually nothing beneficial about this ingredient–it contributes to body contaminants, makes you break out and doesn’t give you any nutrients or hydration. It simply sits there on top of your skin, preventing moisture loss. PASS.

5. Mineral Oil

Mineral oil sounds like it is a good ingredient right? Nope. It’s actually made from petrolatum, and it prevents the skin from eliminating toxins which can lead to acne and other skin disorders. It is usually found in lotions, creams, ointments and makeup products.

6. Propylene Glycol

This is a colorless, creamy liquid that is a byproduct of fossil fuel and fermentation. It hydrates skin and helps active ingredients to penetrate the skin but it causes damage to the kidneys and liver, as well as neurotoxicity to children. Beware also not to get this ingredient to your eye, because it can cause conjunctivitis.

7. Coal Tar Dye

Known as a human carcinogen–it is linked to allergic reactions, dermatitis, asthma attacks, headaches, nausea, fatigue, and nervousness. It also causes major health concerns like cancer and organ toxicity. This is one ingredient that everyone must be careful of because it is usually found in food, textile, cosmetics, and personal care products especially soaps, lotions, shampoos, hair treatments and hair dyes.

8. Sodium Borate or Boric Acid

This ingredient can interfere with hormones and can cause infertility in men. Regular exposure is linked to low sperm counts. The cosmetic industry states that it’s unsafe for infants, yet it is found in some baby care products. This ingredient is already banned in Europe and Canada, but still being widely used in Asian and American made products.

9. Petrochemicals

There are hundreds of chemical ingredients which may be derived from petroluem like butane, propylene, and methane. All of which are classified under petrochemicals, which are byproducts or waste of refining crude oil. When applied to the skin, it doesn’t allow the skin to breathe and can clog pores. There are also some scents that are toxic petrochemicals, which can cause cancers and neurological disorders.

10. UREA

This is an antimicrobial preservative that releases formaldehyde, otherwise known as formalin. This is a very harmful ingredient that causes allergies, asthma, chest pain, joint pain, chronic fatigue, loss of sleep, headache, depression, ear infection. If these reasons are not enough to make you stop using it, it is also linked to major health concerns such as cancer and dermatitis.

Those are my top 10 but in case you are still interested, here are more:

  • Paraffin – can clog pores and cause breakout but often found in face creams and body lotions
  • Carbomer – causes skin irritation
  • Lanolin and its Derivatives – also called as wool fat or wool wax, it is used for protection, treatment, and beautification of the skin–however, it causes major breakouts
  • Methylisothiazolinone / Methylchloroisothiazolinone – a synthetic biocide (a poisonous substance) and preservative that does not give any good effects on the skin
  • Triclosan – linked to skin sensitivity, liver damage, hormone disruption and may cause cancer
  • Fragrance – can trigger allergic reaction, respiratory issues like asthma, headache and hormonal disruption
  • BHT – can cause cancer and interfere with hormone functions
  • Retinol – creates free radicals that increase the risk of skin cancer
  • Siloxane – can interfere with hormone function and damage the liver

 

Credits to Rachel, who helped me in doing research about these ingredients. Thank you. 
Photo from: gigabyte.com

What does “organic” really mean?

Organic is a word that we hear a lot these days — is often linked to other words such as natural, herbal, vegan, healthy among others. More often than not, when we hear that something is labeled organic, we immediately think, “oh, its herbal, its safe… I’ll buy it”

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Organic is a word that we hear a lot these days — is often linked to other words such as natural, herbal, vegan, healthy among others.  More often than not, when we hear that something is labeled organic, we immediately think, oh, its herbal, its safe… I’ll buy it”

WAIT! Did you read the labels carefully? By definition, the word organic (of food or farming methods) means that there were no chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or other artificial agents used in the production of the product.

or·gan·ic

ôrˈɡanik/

relating to or derived from living matter | synonyms: living, live, animate, biological, biotic | “organic matter”

(of food or farming methods) produced or involving production without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or other artificial agents | synonyms: pesticide-free, additive-free, natural | “organic vegetables”

In checking if the product you are buying is really organic, you should check which ingredients are NOT used in the product, instead of what was used.

Case and point — it is easy for companies to claim that their product is “organic” because let’s say, they used “organic aloe vera” as an ingredient in the product. Great. However, when you carefully read the ingredients, they used something called “petrolatum”, which is actually a cancer-causing ingredient. Uh oh.

In some other cases, companies say their products do not contain any SLS, parabens or sulfate. But then again, when you carefully read the labels, you will see that they still used one or two harmful ingredients.

This just goes back to what the definition of organic is. Products that are made WITHOUT the use of harmful chemicals, pesticides, additives. 

Therefore, make sure to read all the ingredients and check if they did not use harmful ingredients such as:

  • Petrolatum
  • Paraffin
  • Mineral Oils
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) / Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)
  • Cocamide DEA / Cocamide MEA
  • Carbomer
  • Lanolin and its Derivatives
  • Propylene Glycol
  • Methylisothiazolinone / Methylchloroisothiazolinone
  • Parabens (Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylparaben)
  • UREA

To learn more about these ingredients, see my next blog post: BEWARE OF THESE 10 COSMETIC INGREDIENTS

Now, who confirms if products are really organic? There are different certification bodies who each have their own standards in assuring that a product is really organic. They go as far as checking the soil used for the planting of ingredients used in the product. Some of the most popular certification bodies for organic products are:

 

  • ICEA (Italy)
  • Soil Association (United Kingdom)
  • Cosmebio (France)
  • Ecocert Greenlife SAS (France)
  • BDIH (Germany)

When you see their logo on the packaging, you are 100% sure that the product is really organic and safe from harmful chemicals. To learn more about this topic, see my next blog post: ORGANIC CERTIFICATION LOGOS TO LOOK FOR

I’m very pleased with the whole “health trend” these days because we are following a trend that is actually GOOD for us. We are starting to take care of our bodies–by exercising and being mindful of what we eat. It’s cool how being “healthy” is such an in thing right now. Anytime we go to the gym or eat an acai bowl, we never fail to instagram it (guilty!), haha.

We have already started being mindful of what we put IN our bodies. I believe that now is the time to also be aware of the things we put ON on our bodies.

How to start? It’s easy: 1) Check the labels, 2) Read the ingredients and finally, 3) Find the certification.

Photo from: pinterest.com