The Cost of Misinformation in the Beauty Space (Ventech Talk)

Ventech Beauty Misinformation

This was a talk I gave on 15 September 2021 for Ventech’s panel on Scientific Literacy and the Price of Misinformation. I talked about my insights on debunking myths over the last 10 years of Lab Muffin (yeah I’m old), how there’s financial incentive for many brands to bust beauty myths and communicate science, and the larger public health implications …

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Beauty Expo Australia 2018

Beauty Expo Australia was on September 8th and 9th this year, at the International Convention Centre in Sydney. This is one of my favourite events each year! As well as a trade show, there are presentations and demonstrations galore. Educational sessions are the highlight of the expo for me! There are dedicated education sessions that go for 75 minutes each …

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Beauty Expo Australia 2017 Round-Up

Beauty Expo Australia 2017 Round-Up

Beauty Expo Australia 2017 Round-Up

Last month I went to Beauty Expo Australia, the biggest beauty industry event in Australia each year. For the past couple of years, the International Convention Centre in Darling Harbour was being renovated and the Expo had to be moved to Glebe Island, which is an absolute pain to get to (there were complimentary buses and ferries, but as you can imagine it wasn’t efficient at all!). This year it was back in Darling Harbour, ten minutes’ walk from Town Hall Station. There were 21% more people this year than last year, and 45% more floor space, so the move back has been a resounding success!

Beauty Expo Australia 2017 Round-Up

The main drawcard for me are the presentations and education sessions. There are free shows on all day on all aspects of the beauty industry. This year there were four stages at the “Hub”: anti-ageing, make-up, grooming and nails. There are paid education sessions as well, which are longer and more in-depth. The sessions included microblading, peels, skin firming, men’s grooming, eyelid-enhancing make-up, brow shaping lessons, social media marketing, and nutrition. Being a beauty science nerd, I went to as many of the technical talks as I could. While there were a couple of dubious claims (one speaker claimed that shallow breathing and high GI fats caused acne), there were also a lot of really fantastic talks – Rae Morris always gives excellent make-up advice, and I really enjoyed the presentation from Ultraceuticals founder Dr Geoffrey Heber too on the delivery of actives through skin.

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My Refugee Week Ration Challenge Experience

Refugee Week Ration Challenge 2017

I did the Refugee Week Ration Challenge this year, where from June 18 to 25 I ate only the rations that a refugee in a camp in Jordan would receive through the Act for Peace charity. I did this to raise money for this important overseas aid program, and so far I’ve raised $1287, which is enough to send 35.5 Syrian girls to school! There’s still time to donate if you’re interested – the link is here.

A lot of people were curious to see how the week went, so here’s what happened…

Preparation

I’m getting my rations together. In addition to the food that came in my refugee ration box, I have a couple of “food stamps” to cash in, and some extras that I’ve managed to earn through fundraising (thank you so much to the kind people who donated!) There’s essentially no fresh food, and way more carbs and less protein than I’m used to.

  • 1920 g of rice: I… hate rice. I know this makes me a bad Asian, but my parents used to force me to eat more rice so I’d grow big and strong. I bought both medium and long grain rice for this challenge to give myself some variety, but I’m not sure changing the shape a tiny bit is going to make a difference. I’ve never voluntarily cooked rice before either, except for risotto.
  • 400 g flour: This is a bit more exciting but it’s plain flour, not self-raising, and there isn’t that much to mix it with.
  • 400 g tinned kidney beans: I’m not a huge fan of beans, but it should at least taste a little different!
  • 85 g dried chickpeas: Really not into these, and I’ve never seen them in dried form before, so at least it’ll be an experience!
  • 170 g dried lentils: The one time I cooked lentils they got charred to a crisp (the only time I’ve properly burned food). Bodes well.
  • 125 g tinned sardines: I started eating sardines a while ago to boost my omega 3 intake, but got bored pretty quickly.
  • 300 mL vegetable oil: At least it’s not a carb!

Refugee Week Ration Challenge 2017

This works out to be under the minimum energy requirements for the average adult, but it’s what refugees survive on (and sometimes there isn’t enough to go around, so they have to share!).

I’ve also earned some extras through my fundraising efforts:

  • 50 g sugar: 50 g of sugar is REALLY LITTLE, you guys. It doesn’t even fill two shot glasses. It’s 12.5 teaspoons which sounds like a fair bit, but that’s less than two teaspoons a day. I’m planning to mix it into rice porridge with cinnamon and milk powder to make desserts.
  • 120 g protein: Lean mince. I decided this would be the easiest to split up over the week, and I’ve decided to start with less and ramp up in case the week gets too unbearable.
  • 170 g vegetable: At first I picked frozen spinach, again because it’s easy to divide and cook and nutritious, but later on I’ll have a change of heart and switch to onion.
  • 70 g milk powder: This was a reward for joining a team. It actually smells delicious, and it’s so fluffy that 70 g looks like heaps! It’s equivalent to half a litre of milk.
  • 12 teabags: I’m usually quite picky with my tea and drink looseleaf oolong, but to make it more authentic for the challenge I’m going to be drinking teabagged oolong – quelle horreur! (I can’t quite make the switch to black tea, but this brand of oolong is super cheap so I feel like it’s fair.)
  • Unlimited spices: Because I’ve joined a team, I get to use their chosen spices as well, yay! We’ve decided on chilli, cumin, stock powder and cinnamon. I put them into little baggies so I can have them on hand, because the food looks terribly bland. It looks a bit shifty.

My Refugee Week Ration Challenge Experience

  • 2 teaspoons coffee: A reward for having a team of 4. I’m not a coffee drinker so this is for flavour only.
  • $5 treat: I split this with two other teammates so we have $1.67 each to spend on a treat of our choice.

The organisers helpfully sent out a meal plan, which looks like this:

My Refugee Week Ration Challenge Experience

No surprise, there’s way too much rice for my liking!

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Refugee Week Ration Challenge 2017

Refugee Week Ration Challenge 2017

I’m doing the Ration Challenge this year, where I’m going to attempt to survive on refugee rations for a week from June 18-25 (Refugee Week). Refugees are a big political issue here in Australia, and I get very upset when I see the uncompassionate way the major political parties treat and even just talk about fellow human beings who have risked everything to rebuild their lives somewhere safe. We can’t choose where we’re born, and I’d like to think that other people would want to help me if I was in that situation – so I decided to do something about it!

Refugee Week Ration Challenge 2017

Here’s my food for the week, which are the same rations a Syrian refugee receives in a camp in Jordan:

Refugee Week Ration Challenge 2017I get:

  • 1920 g rice
  • 400 g flour
  • 170 g lentils
  • 85 g dried chickpeas
  • 125 g tinned sardines
  • 400 g tinned kidney beans
  • 300 mL vegetable oil

Since I’m pretty active, I usually eat…a LOT more than this. I’ve eaten that entire portion of kidney beans in one sitting before. There’s a disclaimer warning you that this doesn’t meet the minimum energy standards for the average adult, and that they don’t recommend that you do the challenge for longer than a week. This is especially sad when you realise that refugees live on these amounts for years, and many of them are young growing children and pregnant women! And because of funding shortages for these programs, many refugees actually have to share ration packs or go without.

Refugee Week Ration Challenge 2017

My food is usually a lot more interesting as well. I’m not a health nut, but I was still struck by the lack of fresh vegetables and fruit. There are some extra “treats” you can earn by hitting fundraising goals (theoretically, real refugees can earn money for these by selling handicrafts):

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2017 Beauty Trends with Priceline

Beauty Trends with Priceline: Really Nifty Packaging

I recently attended a Priceline media event where we were treated to a preview of what was coming to Australia’s leading health and beauty store in the next 6 months. Here’s what caught my eye…

Trend 1: Really Nifty Packaging

Beauty Trends with Priceline: Really Nifty Packaging

I love a good product, and that includes the packaging, which I think is really, really underrated as part of the whole experience. Luckily a bunch of new products also take this approach! Some of these innovations are so simple yet so handy that I’m surprised they’re new at all.

I’m particularly impressed by Bourjois Paris, a French brand under the Coty umbrella that I’ve tended to overlook in the past. Bourjois Volume Reveal Mascara ($23) has a triangular barrel that won’t roll off your table, with a magnifying mirror on the side. If you place it just below your eye, you can see exactly how much mascara you’ve applied to every single upper lash. The mascara itself is pretty awesome at holding a curl (though I’ve only tried it once so far so I’m withholding my verdict), but this mirror is the bomb. I’m going to be using this mirror with every mascara from now on.

Bourjois are also launching Palette Les Nudes ($28), a pretty eyeshadow palette, but the drawcard for me is that it has a large swivelling mirror that stays at whatever angle you put it at. Why don’t more palettes do this? I’m sick of mirrors flopping around flaccidly!

There’s also Blistex Pearl ($5.95), a lip balm with an eos-like dome that you can apply to both lips at once. The cool thing is that the flip lid swivels around the rest of the balm and stays attached, so theoretically you can open it with one hand if you’re really coordinated. If you’re not, it means you won’t drop the lid (or at least you’ll drop the whole thing instead).

I’ve already reviewed Cinch Face Cheat ($39.95), a moisturiser/primer/serum in a handy spray format that I’m still finding really handy for when I’m feeling too lazy for multiple steps/. Hask Greek Yogurt shampoo ($19.99) has what seems to me like cool packaging for the sake of cool packaging – the inner white tube dispenses “yogurt” while the outer clear tube dispenses “blueberry sauce”, which looks really cool coming out but I’m not sure it contributes much else.

Another simple but nifty product that isn’t really packaging, but didn’t really belong anywhere else, is the new Real Techniques Bold Metals Diamond Sponge. Yes, it’s a makeup sponge cut into a slightly different shape, but hear me out. The flat facets are great for quickly applying makeup to flat areas like your cheeks, while the pointy tip is good for getting into nooks and crannies. I’d love a round surface as well for blending, but I’m not sure how they’d make that aesthetically pleasing.

Beauty Trends with Priceline

Yet another simple but game-changing innovation: Waxaway’s Salon Pro Mini Roller Wax Heater comes with a micro USB port! No more worrying about special cables going missing or breaking. I wish I could impose this on every rechargeable product from now on.

Trend 2: High-Tech Nerdy Skincare and More

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Beauty Expo and Australian Beauty Industry Awards 2015

beauty-expo-1

Last last weekend I went to Beauty Expo Australia. It’s a trade-only event for people in the beauty industry, and as well as a plethora of stalls with massive discounts, there’s also informative education sessions with industry leaders, and live demonstrations of all the latest technologies.

beauty-expo-1

I attended an amazing lecture run by the very knowledgeable Chiza Westcarr, all about skin care, in particular hyperpigmentation and acne. I took pages of notes, and learned so much! Did you know, for example:

* dermal (deep) pigment can’t be treated with peels
* microcomedones mature in 8 weeks
* stress can change the sebum your skin secretes (sebocytes which produce sebum have receptors for stress hormones)
* you can calculate your risk of pigmentation from peels by referring to the ethnicities of your grandparents

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Spa & Beauty Expo 2: NAILS! Meeting Jeff Pink and inkjet nail printers

This is the final installment of my Spa & Beauty Expo posts! After my haul and expo experience posts, this one’s all about the nails 🙂 The Spa and Beauty Expo was more nail-centric than I anticipated, since I barely saw three polish brands at IMATS last year. There was a celebration of nail technology, old and new, with most …

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