July 13, 2019

Plastic Free July - Environmental Impact of Plastics


Photo of colorful plastic waste on a sandy beach with the title of the post written in white on it (Plastic Free July - Environmental Impact of Plastics)

Hi my green- and open-minded readers!

I am currently watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine on Netflix, but I cannot stop thinking about an important issue. Microplastic debris - plastic particles smaller than five millimeters in size - is harming wildlife all over the planet. Especially sea life is affected.

Last year researchers found out that marine mammals stranded around the British coast most likely indirectly ingested plastics by consuming contaminated prey. For your information, the source of the scientific report is added to the bottom of this post. Out of 50 individuals from ten cetacean and pinniped species all were found to contain plastic. In the aggregate, they detected 273 pieces of plastic, 261 of these are classified as microplastics. One juvenile short-beaked common dolphin was found to even contain a green netting - a macroplastic. [1]

229 of those plastics were fibres, which usually emerge from washing synthetic textiles. The remaining particles, 44 in total, were fragments. Below I added the research figure showing photographic examples and informing about proportion of particle color, size and polymer type. If you like to read through the whole scientific report, visit this link, alternatively this one. [1]

Research figure showing photographic examples and informing about proportion of particle color, size and polymer type found in marine mammals stranded around the British coast.

(a) Photographic examples of microplastics found in marine mammal digestive tracts (i) Nylon; (ii) Polyethylene; (iii) Polyethylene terephthalate (PET); (iv) Phenoxy resin (b) proportion of particle colours found in all animals (c) size ranges of particles found in all animals. Note: a small proportion of fibres were larger than 5 mm but were not macroscopically visible and are included here. (d) the proportion of polymer types found [1]

Unfortunately prior data is rare, as the occurrence and observation of environmental issues is a recent phenomenon. But plastics were not invented until 1907, so findings of plastic debris within living organisms is only able to occur ever since.

As you may already know July is known as Plastic Free July for a specific bracket, meaning people try to reduce their plastic consumption this month. To save the environment from any further damage from plastics, especially to let wildlife recover, it is crucial for the whole global population so start rethinking their habits.

To decrease the dispersiveness of plastic debris it is important to stem the production. Although it is unlikely to persuade companies to stop using plastics immediately, every single person is able to get those businesses to rethink their way of packaging or choice of material. By spending your money on products that are environmental-friendly, instead of buying items producing lots of waste, enterprises are going to recognize the importance of switching to and maintaining the usage of eco-friendly materials.

So, what are you able to do in particular? On the one hand it is most helpful to cut out disposables, meaning to avoid buying or using plates, bowls, cups, cutlery and takeaway containers made out of plastic or plastic-coated materials, as well as cling wrap. It is eco-friendlier to use reusable tableware. For example, I use a KeepCup for my coffee or tea on the go, I have a stainless steel lunchbox to store leftovers from eating out and I own a multi-tool pocketknife which includes a fork and spoon, next to the common tools. With these in my cloth bag I am ready to go out and thus to enjoy my coffee to go or store food I was not able to finish. In addition, FoodHuggers and beeswax wraps are perfect to cover and carry food. A further item I always bring with me is a reusable drinking straw, whether it is for slurping cocktails or savoring coffees. I am going to talk about my favorite ones in an upcoming post, so stay tuned!

Another way to reduce the output of plastic waste is to buy products made out of durable and high-quality substances, such as glass or stainless steel. Even wood and stone can be ideal materials, depending on what kind of product is manufactured out of it. Alphabet or building blocks for kids are safer and long-lasting when made out of wood. Glass bowls for displaying fruits look more fashionable and expensive than their plastic equivalent. Drinking bottles made out of stainless steel are shatterproof and do not leak toxins - an issue that occurs in plastic bottles. Stone cutting boards - usually marble or granite is used - may damage the grind of your knife at a faster pace, but you are definitely not going to produce plastic fragments ending up in the environment.

Speaking of saving the environment, you may also know that I was born on Earth Day which makes me feel even more responsible for acting eco-friendly at all times. Of course it is not doable to switch to a zero waste lifestyle within a few hours. It actually takes months, even years, to declutter your belongings and change your mindset - I am right in the middle of my journey to this day. But choosing greener alternatives one step at a time is still assistant to creating a more sustainable life. You do not need to swap your plastic food containers for ones made out of glass by discarding the plastic ones. In fact, it is eco-friendlier to use your utensils until they fall apart, instead of switching to environmentally sound alternatives in an instant.

But, exceptions confirm the rule. Try to re- or upcycle food containers or kids toys containing toxins or endocrine disruptors, such as bisphenol A, also known as BPA. Make sure the items are declared free from any harmful chemicals, usually it is written on the packaging and the object, if necessary you can normally look it up on the internet, too. Another material to avoid or discard is melamine. Not only do allegedly eco-friendly dishes made out of bamboo contain plastic in some cases [2], they may also contain melamine and cyanuric acid, able to leach from items by heating, e.g. by putting on hot food. Co-ingestion of these two chemicals results in renal toxicity. [3]

To cut a long story short, avoiding plastics is not only crucial for saving the earth, it is beneficial for your health as well. Furthermore, selecting durable and eco-friendlier materials is also wallet-friendlier and on top of this more aesthetically pleasing, according to my opinion. As a private end consumer it is not simple to discontinue the amount of plastic produced, but by choosing to spend your money on green alternatives companies may take a hint.

Humans are at fault for plastic-related injuries and deaths in wildlife, as those synthetic materials are man-made. Altering the consumption habits is advantageous to save flora and fauna. Unfortunately it may take some time for the environment to fully recover, but it is going to bring back quality to terrestrial life. Make a switch and #ditchthedisposables. Find inspiration on PlasticFreeJuly.org, a campaign hosting the challenge to refuse single-use plastics and also the motivation behind my post. They have a facebook and instagram, too, so you can connect with their belief and follow in their steps.

Is environmentalism important to you? I would love to know the ways you are already avoiding plastic - feel free to comment down below. This month I am going to publish more Plastic Free July posts, so keep an eye on my blog ☺️

xxxx Aga

Scientific Report Source [1]: Nelms, S. E.; Barnett, J.; Brownlow, A.; Davison, N. J.; Deaville, R.; Galloway, T. S. et al. (2019): Microplastics in marine mammals stranded around the British coast: ubiquitous but transitory? In: Scientific Reports 9 (1), S. 1075. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-37428-3.
Report Source [2]: Iris Eckstein, Magdalena Lubecki and Dr. Uwe Lauber: Consumer Fraud: Falsely Declared “Ecological” Bamboo Tableware Contains Much Plastic, published 2014-12-23 on CVUA Stuttgart, alternative link.
Scientific Report Source [3]: World Health Organization (WHO): Melamine and Cyanuric acid: Toxicity, Preliminary Risk Assessment and Guidance on Levels in Food, published 2008-09-25, updated 2008-10-30 as PDF file.

June 23, 2019

Rainbow Pride Month Hair feat. Headshot


blurry picture of a woman with Rainbow Pride Month Hair written on it

Hi there!

Although the following review sounds too positive to be not sponsored, I assure you that this is only my own opinion and I purchased everything on my own. It is a genuine recommendation of mine without any affiliation.

Some of you already know that I love to dye my hair all different colors on the visible spectrum. Similar to my love for making art, it is a way to represent myself and free my mind, which is hindered to flourish due to my mental illnesses. Being able to make my outer appearance match the brisk, vivid, colorful feelings I yearn for is helping me to cope with not being able to experience happiness and blitheness. I am not afraid of looking non-standard because I believe that it is crucial to be unique and always true to oneself. It is important to me to play out individualism, no matter what other say. And to be honest, I have almost always gotten positive feedback for my colorful hair. In fact, some people tend to say they would love to be as brave as me and dye their hair, too. All I can say is: DO IT. Do not look back, enjoy yourself and always remember: hair grows back. But I genuinely recommend to go to a hairdresser, at least for bleaching your hair. I do it at home, but sometimes I wish I would have gone to a coiffeur because I lost a huge amount of length.

Dyeing your hair with semi-permanent hair colors is not as - I would even say not at all - harmful to your hair as bleaching, so doing this yourself is safer. I have already tried many brands and colors, and by now I definitely have some favorites. One of the dyes I used before was a blue one I surprisingly found at my local second hand shop for one Euro. It was Desaster Blue by Headshot, a hair dye company which is vegan, animal cruelty free and they offer a recycling system for the hair dye bottles. Somehow I cannot find where the brand is located at or where it originated from, they only seem to have a German website. And the only information on the packaging and website is the production area, which is said to be the EU. For this blog entry I messaged them on instagram asking them about the country they come from. I am crossing my fingers to get an reply, and I am going to share the information with you by editing this post as soon as I receive an answer.

[EDIT: They did reply to my message: Headshot is a German hair dye company located in Duisburg-Rheinhausen. Throughout their journey they received some offers to produce the dyes in other cities around Europe, but remained faithful to their hometown. The About Us page on the German Headshot website is currently being upgraded. Plus, Headshot revealed to me that they are also working on an English website. I am excited!]

the logo of Headshot Haarfarbe, printed on the cardboard box they ship their hair dyes in
Headshot Haarfarbe company logo

Headshot did not cross my mind for almost two years because I was in love with a different brand (Freak Direct Colours by Artistique) in the past months. Maybe I will talk about those colors in an upcoming post, but right now I am using Headshot to the fullest. Their dyes are personally speaking the best ones, next to the Artistique colors. And I already have tried Directions by La Riché, ColoRista by L'Oréal, Colour-Freedom by Knight&Wilson, and Color Injection by dusy professional. Both Headshot and Artistique excel in pigmentation and that is a huge factor for me. You can always dilute a highly pigmented dye by adding a certain amount of hair mask or even a so called pastellizer offered by different brands, but you can never make poorly pigmented hair colors turn out vibrant and bold. So instead of using a dye on its own I rather choose to dilute it myself. The downside of intense pigmentation is the bleeding of colors, meaning it takes a long time to get all of the excess pigments out of your hair, which can lead to staining clothes and even undyed hair. I take that risk for having pretty brisk and vivid hair anytime.

While using the Desaster Blue diluted and mixed with other colors before, I did not really see how strong it is. This January I got my purchase of the Rainbow Set from Headshot. I was searching for another orange dye, plus a green and a yellow one, since I do not own these colors. Wanting to try out said brand I surfed their website hoping for a little discount - and I was successful. Not only did I find a set with six colors containing orange, green and yellow among others, they even had a valid discount code online.

six bottles of semi-permanent hair dye by Headshot, in front of a rainbow painting
The Rainbow Set by Headshot

Months later I was ready to use them. Altogether. At the same time. Perfect to share my support for pride month! And with this I truly want to show that I accept every single human being and every single kind of sexual or gender identification. Be who you really want to be, that is all that matters. I know that as a cis heterosexual I cannot fathom what any person other than cis heterosexuals experiences, but reading stories online from people who are discriminated and bullied for who they are makes me want to help. I underwent bullying for quite a long time for being a foreign loser (I cannot think of another reason, never asked the bullies), and I do not want anyone else to go through this, too. So I stand with those counted among LGBT, hoping for a change in societal views on sex and genders in the very near future. In the end, love is love, right?

On my twitter I started a poll whether or not I should dye my bangs with the pride colors in a vertical way and all of the six votes said to do it. One is unfortunately shown as a no, but the person told me immediately it was unintentional. They wanted to agree on it, so I can count it as a yes. And yeah, that is how my hair has been the past ten days, as I immediately started to dye my bangs after tweeting the poll. I was hoping for a clear yes by my followers, anyway. Speaking of followers, I miss the engagement on my twitter and blog, but that is another story, and I hope to get it back someday.

the packaging of the Headshot Rainbow Set in front of a vertical rainbow painting
The Headshot Rainbow Set - definitely a new favorite!

Returning to the Headshot hair dyes, the Rainbow set contains six different colors, as mentioned before, which are:
  • Hellfire Red - rather a berry red turning into a pink after a few washes, while heavily staining undyed hair
  • Captain Carrot - a perfect orange having the right red to yellow proportion, definitely bolder in color than carrots
  • Yippie Ya Yellow - resembling a sunflower yellow which stays in your hair for quite a long time, compared to other yellows
  • Danger! Danger! - a neon green for sure, probably my most favorite color following the blue one
  • Desaster Blue - a tiny amount of greenish pigments makes it look slightly teal, yet blue enough to be labeled a blue - I love it
  • Psycho Purple - not purple enough for me, it lacks the pinkish hue and rather looks like a warm dark blue
six semi-permanent hair dye swatches on white paper
The six colors swatched on white paper for a reference

The consistency of the dyes is pretty average compared to other ones, maybe it is a bit more liquidy so that it is easier to get out of the bottles. And yes, it is a hair color in bottles which makes it harder to use without a bowl. In fact, you need to use another container to put the dye into, but remembering the strong pigmentation you would need to use a mixing bowl anyway to dilute the dye. I myself used them on their own to make my bangs look highly vibrant. And I was amazed how bold the colors came out after just twenty minutes. I washed my hair beforehand to get rid of all the styling products and sebum, so that the colors are properly able to stick to my hair. It was late at night, just a few hours before my laboratory practice began, and I was too tired to wait for the full thirty minutes I usually do when dying my hair, so I washed it off after just twenty. Believe me when I tell you it looks unreal. I could not think of a better result, unless you want pastel hair. You would need to dilute it with a lot of hair mask or the like, for sure.

the face of a blonde white woman wearing red sunglasses with vertically rainbow colored bangs, standing in a forest
I love my sunglasses - and my new pride look!

For around the same prize as a pot of Directions you get almost twice the amount of hair dye in one bottle, which is a great deal, thinking about the intense pigmentation. As far as I know Headshot only delivers to fifteen European countries including DACH, BeNeLux and the UK, but it is possible that other online shops stock their hair dyes and are able to deliver out of Europe. As it is a rather unknown hair dye company you may have to ask an online shop to start carrying this brand. Another option is to ask your relatives or good friends living in one of the fifteen countries to help you. As a last resort, remember, there are other good hair dyes available worldwide.

Unfortunately, my boyfriend Korin is not as excited about my colorful hair, but he was kind enough to take photos of me with my bangs. Usually I am someone who hates pictures showing me, as I am not happy with my body at the moment. Even selfies are strange to look at and I have to take a ton of them to find one that I can post. Frankly, Korin did a great job at capturing my beauty, as he calls it. And indeed, I did not need a lot of editing. As you can see in the photo below I applied the colors red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet from left to right - in my perspective - because I tend to slightly tilt my head to the right while sitting in the auditorium, making it possible to recognize the pride flag. My bangs are too short and my dyeing skills too restricted to make the flag horizontal, so vertical it had to be.

the face of a blonde white woman with vertically rainbow colored bangs, standing in a forest
What do YOU think of my rainbow bangs?

Saying this without a doubt, I am super satisfied with the results. Not only are those colors looking perfectly vibrant and eesome, the pictures are also some of the most favorite ones I shot this year, or got taken by others. Another advantage is that the colors look still super bold after thoroughly washing them twice. The only downside is the bleeding of the red one. It not only does stain the undyed hair, also the yellow hair got discolored. Frankly, all the dyes, except from Disaster Blue which gets a little more teal, but remains pretty, wash out without ugly undertones, they just fade, but it takes what feels forever. Depending on what you search for in a hair dye, it is either a benefit or a disadvantage. For me it is definitely a plus.

a photo showing me, a blonde white woman, with my new vertically dyed rainbow bangs, rocking a smile
This is how I feel about my bangs, as well as my boyfriend - I am deeply in love!

I hope you enjoy my pride month hair just as much as I do. Would you wear your hair dyed with pride colors, too? Or did you already rock such a look before? Let me know in the comments and feel free to post weblinks to your colorful hairstyles.

I wish you a joyful and peaceful rest of June and pride month, see you soon! ☺

xxxx Aga

June 11, 2019

COOP+DAISY Skincare Review

Hey everyone,

you may have already read about my latest skincare routine. One of the products I use almost everyday is the COOP+DAISY Fresh Glow Jelly Cleanser. I found it a few months ago at TK Maxx (4 fl oz / 128 mL for 5,99 €) searching for a smooth and gentle cleanser. It smells very mild, a bit acidic, yet delightful. And I do feel that it is able to take off the dirt and pollution on my face, though I do not use it for removing makeup. But whenever I double cleanse with oil first, I use this jelly cleanser afterwards and it works perfectly.

the label on the back of the COOP+DAISY fresh glow jelly cleanser bottle showing the ingredients and directions
COOP+DAISY Fresh Glow Jelly Cleanser ingredients

The ingredients list is not too long - a huge purchasing factor for me - and it does contain a few beneficial chemicals. While glycerin and aloe vera juice are hydrating to your skin, it does not contain harsh surfactants, such as SLS or sodium laurate, but a milder one called Polysorbate 20. Basically it is a good cleanser for dry, dehydrated skin and my face tells the same. I like to massage it into my skin and get rid of sebum and dirt, without drying out my skin - all in all perfect.

a beautiful capturing of the COOP+DAISY collection, including the Brigthen Up Glow Serum (left), the Fresh Glow Jelly Cleanser (middle) and the Night Glow Sleeping Serum, surrounded by two succulent plants
COOP+DAISY products from left to right: Brighten Up Glow Serum, Fresh Glow Jelly Cleanser, Night Glow Sleeping Serum

Months later, about two weeks ago I even found the two serums matching the skincare line by COOP+DAISY. The pink one is supposed to be used nightly, while the yellow serum does not direct you to use it during a special time of the day.

The Brighten Up Glow Serum (1.5 fl oz / 44 mL for 8,99 €) does - as well as the Jelly Cleanser - contain great ingredients shown just below. One of them is niacinamide, also known as vitamin B3. I know that vitamin B3 is crucial for your mental well-being, as it can cause e.g. depression. But if you want to learn more about its effect on skin, I recommend to read Michelle's blog entry on labmuffin.com, I linked it to the word niacinamide. Ascorbic ccid, vitamin C, is a great antioxidant, helping your skin to reverse signs of aging. While the enzyme exfoliator pineapple fruit extract can cause irritations, especially with sensitive skin, it is actually helpful to remove dead skin cells. You may heard that pineapples bite back when you eat them, meaning a chemical in them called bromelain is able to dissolve proteins. This effect is used in skincare to help get rid of the flakes of shed skin. I do not use the serum for a longer time than half an hour, as my skin is very sensitive recently and I do not want to irritate it too much. Magnesium - an essential mineral for flora and fauna - is also added to the glow serum, meaning it can be absorbed through the hair follicles and sweat glands and release its beneficial influences when applied for a longer time. But thinking of all the acids in this serum I personally would not wear it all day.

a collage of the labels on the back of the bottles of the COOP+DAISY Brighten Up Glow Serum and the Night Glow Sleeping Serum, showing the directions and ingredients
COOP+DAISY Brighten Up Glow Serum (left) and Night Glow Sleeping Serum (right) ingredients

Last, but not least, I purchased the Night Glow Sleeping Serum at TK Maxx (1.5 fl oz / 44 mL for 7,99€), too. One of the ingredients you can spot above is collagen. Though the molecule is too big to penetrate skin, collagen has hydrating benefits, perfect for dry skin. Glycolic acid, an Alpha Hydroxy Acid, is able to penetrate the skin and remove dead skin cells, leading to a smoother and plumper skin. Pure titanium dioxide is not hazardous, but it can absorb sun rays and ultraviolet light, making it a good ingredient to avoid skin aging. Though I do not understand how it is supposed to unfold its properties at night. All of the products contain perfume as the last ingredient, which can be an issue with sensitive skin. It is best to test the cleanser and the serums first before applying it onto your whole face and neck.

Since glycolic acid is a bit too harsh for me, I use this sleeping serum only one to two times a week during the night. I can tell that it is benefiting my skin paired with the glow serum I usually apply for around ten minutes to half an hour every second day. I feel like my skin is plumper and smoother, apart from my still existent break outs which did not exceed while using the serums. Certainly I am going to repurchase the jelly cleanser, but I am not sure about the serums. I will use them for a little bit longer and see how much my skin is going to change for the better.

The serums come in glass bottles with a dropper and the cleanser in a pump dispenser made out of glass and plastic. The jelly-like liquids are white-ish with a fair scent that is mostly the same for all three products. Below you can see the textures (perfect on texture tuesday).

a photo showing the textures of the Glow Serum dropping out of the pipet (left), Jelly Cleanser on the back of a hand (middle) and the Sleeping Serum dropping out of the pipet (right)

Do you know COOP+DAISY and their jelly cleanser, plus both the serums, already? Are you a fan or do you loathe the products? Let me know in the comments, I would appreciate to hear about your experiences. ☺

xxxx Aga