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Beauty & Fashion

Second Look at Leather

Many call for the non-use of leather because it isn’t exactly green. An alternative perspective is forwarded, however – i.e. seeing leather as a by-product that will just go to waste if not used.

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By PePe Castro

By-products. That, says Filipino shoe manufacturer and retailer giant Manels owner Manuel Siggaoat, are what they are. He is talking about leather, of course.

“This (industry) makes use of by-products that (if not used, will) just go to waste,” he says. That, by the way, is not an excuse – Siggaoat is, actually, being truthful.

Leather is a material created through the tanning of hides and skins of animals, primarily cattlehide, uses raw materials that are by-products of the meat industry, with the meat having higher value than the skin. Leather – like fur – is actually a sore point for many, err, (non-consumers of meat) animal lovers, largely because it necessitates the slaughter of a living being in order to produce it. The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), an animal rights activist group, among others, consider the use of “all leather items (from animal hides) is unnecessary and cruel in today’s society.”

And so the debate continues on the pros and cons of leather, and leather use.

FASH ITEMS

Manels, of course, has been a leading player in the local leathergoods market since 1964. Manels – a play at the names of owners Manuel and Nelia Siggaoat – started out as a small shoe store near the Philippine Women’s University, where Nelia worked, soon proving to be lucrative so that the husband and wife tandem decided to leave their careers to focus on their new business. Nelia’s artistic vision found a medium in the design and manufacture of these shoes and bags. Manuel, on the other hand, focused on building the business side.

Over 40 years later, Manels has diversified – in 2004, Siggaoat’s son, Mark Siggaoat, spearheaded the establishment of LapDance (lapdancebag.com), a company supplying laptop (and similar gadgets) casings.

“It’s a niche market,” the younger Siggaoat says, adding that, initially, “it was a hard (market to break into) when we started.”
Not, worth noting, because of anti-leather sentiments.

The sales picked up, though, and have been up since 2006.

Early in 2009, LapDance started selling products using ostrich leather.

In an interview, the older Siggaoat notes how, in the case of ostriches in particular, “ostriches are now grown locally (aside from getting imported) for their meat,” he says. Interestingly, in many cases, only ostrich meat is harvested – in fact, in the Philippines, tanning ostrich skin is not practiced.

There, therefore, is produced “waste” – effectively turned into leather.

LapDance currently usually comes out with eight to 10 new designs per season, the products costing from P1,800 to over P3,000 apiece.

And, oh, the leather is but a component of the design – other materials used are fibers, among others, just as the company is also studying the use of faux (fake) leather to “make the products more marketable.”

GOING ALL-NATURAL

For those opposing the use of leather, it isn’t just the slaughter of animals (a living thing) that ruffles their feathers, so to speak – it is also how the tanning process that the hide has to go through which, it is worth noting, can be harmful to the environment. Tanning, the process that makes the leather (which does not easily decompose) from the skins of animals (or rawhide, which decomposes easily) after permanently altering its protein structure, often makes use of such chemicals as: sodium sulfide, sodium hydroxide, sodium hydrosulfite, arsenic sulfide, calcium hydrosulfide, dimethyl amine, sodium sulphydrate, and, yes, tannin – all of them, aside from emitting toxic fumes, may (if/when not properly disposed of) contaminating air and water.

In theory, choosing not to use (not just buy) leather products should be easy – after all, the alternatives now abound. Among others, there are the artificial leather (fabric with leather finish, popularly used as upholstery), synthetic leather or pleather (this one, however, is also hotly discussed, since it is often made from plastic, another hot point for environmentalists), vegan leather (made from fibers that are animal-friendly – though even this uses some PVC, deemed harmful to the environment).

A bigger issue is in the availability of the products – in the Philippines, for example, alternatives are not as widely available.

REALISTIC APPROACH

Michael Bloch, editor of greenlivingtips.com, has a more realistic approach.

“What’s a leather lover to do? Firstly, we need to look at our consumption – do we really need 10 pairs of leather shoes, five wallets or eight handbags? Every leather item you don’t buy mean less toxic waste entering into the environment and, perhaps, an animal not killed – you’ll save some cash as well,” Bloch says.

Yet another way to approach the issue is to “reduce our associated impact by asking companies where they source their leather – if it’s outside ‘developed’ countries, assume the worst,” Bloch adds.

For the moneyed, though, opting to buy only the green should always be considered – if not locally available, the order from overseas.
But for now, on leather, pleather, vegan leather, imitation leather, or… whatever? The choice remains yours – choose wisely.

Believing that everyone's perspective is important, Zest Magazine has opted to provide an avenue for these perspectives to be known. care to hear the publication's contributing writers; or better yet, do some contributing yourself by contacting info@zestmag.com.

Beauty & Fashion

A better wig — with chemistry

Hairs treated with the LB approach sustained less UV damage, were less prone to breakage and could hold more moisture than those that were simply immersed in the nanocomposite.

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For some people, wigs are a fun and colorful fashion accessory, but for those with hair loss from alopecia or other conditions, they can provide a real sense of normalcy and boost self-confidence. Whether made from human or synthetic strands, however, most hairpieces lose their luster after being worn day after day. Now, researchers in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces report a new way to make wigs more durable and long lasting.

Wigs come in all colors of the rainbow and in every style imaginable. Some cover the whole head, while others are “extensions,” sections of hair that clip onto existing locks to make them look fuller or longer. Hairpieces can be made of real human strands or synthetic materials, but either way, washing, UV exposure from the sun and repeated styling can cause these products to become dry and brittle.

To extend the wearable life of wigs, some researchers have spray-coated a layer of graphene oxide on them, whereas other teams have immersed wig hairs in a keratin/halloysite nanocomposite. Because it’s difficult to cover an entire hairpiece with these methods, Guang Yang, Huali Nie and colleagues wanted to see if a nanocomposite applied with a tried-and-true approach for coating surfaces with ultrathin films — known as the Langmuir-Blodgett (LB) technique — could improve coverage and increase durability.

The researchers first developed a keratin and graphene oxide nanocomposite as the coating material. To coat hairs with the LB method, they dipped a few human or synthetic hairs into water in a special apparatus with moveable side barriers. After the nanocomposite was spread on the water’s surface with an atomizer, the barriers were moved inward to compress the film— like the trash compactor that almost crushed the heroes in the movie Star Wars. After 30 minutes, the researchers lifted the hairs out of the water, and as they did so, the film coated the locks.

Compared to the immersion technique, the LB method provided more coverage. In addition, hairs treated with the LB approach sustained less UV damage, were less prone to breakage and could hold more moisture than those that were simply immersed in the nanocomposite. They also dissipated heat better and generated less static electricity when rubbed with a rubber sheet. The researchers say that the method can be scaled up for use by companies that manufacture wigs.

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Beauty & Fashion

Compostable bioleather offers sustainable solutions for the clothing industry and beyond

The cattle industry is the single leading driver of deforestation, and the tanning of leather creates a great deal of chemical pollution. These challenges have motivated a search for more sustainable textiles, especially leather alternatives.

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Since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, clothing production has been on an unsustainable path. Like most manufacturing, textiles are produced in a linear fashion with a cradle-to-grave model. Fabrics like cotton are farmed, worn, used, then thrown away. The textile industry as a whole is responsible for 10% of global carbon emissions, with leather being especially harmful. 

The cattle industry is the single leading driver of deforestation, and the tanning of leather creates a great deal of chemical pollution. These challenges have motivated a search for more sustainable textiles, especially leather alternatives.

A team with a track record of successful collaboration may hold an answer. Biomedical Engineering researchers at Columbia Engineering recently announced they have created a compostable bioleather with superior flame-retardance and low environmental impact. Their microbial nanocellulose (MC) bioleather has a 1,000-times lower carcinogenic impact than cow leather and a significantly smaller carbon footprint than synthetic leather or cotton. Their study was published in Environmental Science: Advances

The team, led by Theanne Schiros and Helen Lu, together with Ph.D. candidate Romare Antrobus, has been working together for several years in Columbia’s Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) to develop materials for a broad range of applications from biomedicine to energy, electronics, and textiles laid the foundation for inventing this versatile new material.

“Our bioleather represents a breakthrough not only for textiles but shows other industries how to explore a sustainable manufacturing process to engineer regenerative materials,”  said Lu, professor of biomedical engineering and Senior Vice Dean of Faculty Affairs and Advancement at Columbia Engineering.

To make high-performance biotextiles, the team harnessed microbial biosynthesis of nanocellulose, drawing inspiration from pre-industrial and indigenous science. Schiros hypothesized that a main component of mammalian brain used for millennia to tan hides into leather–lecithin phosphatidylcholine– would stabilize the interaction of cellulose with both water and lipids in a tanning emulsion, and modify the material properties of MC through its hydrophilic groups to make it suitable for use as a bioleather. When the researchers used traditional brain and smoke tanning processes, they noted an increase in tensile strength and ductility of MC, which encouraged this line of investigation. Their discovery led to the development of an eco-friendly, plant-based lecithin “tanning” process for nanocellulose that created a strong, compostable bioleather. 

This new process will not only transform future textile development but also cultural heritage research. While civilizations around the world have been creating sustainable and durable textiles since antiquity, most of these ancient techniques have been lost.

“Our team is now collaborating with scientists at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to develop a conservation studies database for artifacts in their cultural heritage collections and to understand the mechanism behind historic brain and organ tanning,” said Schiros, associate professor of materials science at the Fashion Institute of Technology and adjunct associate research scientist in Columbia’s MRSEC. 

Coming full circle to modern-day design, the researchers created a pair of naturally dyed, microbial bioleather sneakers in a collaboration with Public School NY. The sneakers are part of an exhibition, Towards a Circular Society: Learning from Nature, currently on view at the University of Bern’s Wyss Academy for Nature. They will also be on view in a separate exhibition at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

This new study builds off the researchers’ successful rethinking of manufacturing through the lens of biomaterials and the circular economy, including two startups spun out of their labs, Algiknit, which makes kelp-based biofibers, and Werewool, which has created a platform for high-performance regenerative textile fibers with DNA-programmed color and function, such as stretch or waterproofing,  provided by engineered proteins. 

With their accomplishments in harnessing the power of microbes and developing paleo-inspired green processing techniques, Lu and Schiros expect biofabrication to play a critical role in facilitating a transition to a more sustainable economy. MC offers a modular engineering platform for high-performance regenerative materials with various applications, from tissue engineering to batteries, electronics, biosensors, and pollution remediation, which the researchers are continuing to explore.

Schiros believes the broad applicability of their research may only be a matter of time. She added, “The biofabrication approach developed here can incentivize and accelerate a paradigm shift to a circular materials economy, critical to global climate goals and sustainable development.”

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Beauty & Fashion

3 Trends Filipino beauty consumers are prioritizing this 2022

We took a deep dive into the latest craze in the local beauty industry and rounded up 3 trends Filipino beauty consumers are currently buying into. We’ve also included product recommendations that embody each trend, which you can get up to 90% off on Shopee Beauty.

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Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but as our new normal continues to collectively influence our daily needs, values, and priorities, we see a few key trends rising above the rest. The past two years have altered the way we approach beauty – adopting more easygoing and holistic routines and putting more premium on skin as evident in buzzwords such as skinimalism and self-care dominating our socials.

We took a deep dive into the latest craze in the local beauty industry and rounded up 3 trends Filipino beauty consumers are currently buying into. We’ve also included product recommendations that embody each trend, which you can get up to 90% off on Shopee Beauty.

Back to Basics

As most of us continue to juggle both our personal and professional lives at home, consumers are embracing a more streamlined beauty routine. The key is using fewer, but harder-working items that are quick and effortless. Championing uncomplicated beauty, the Blk Glow Stick Duo Set is a versatile glow stick for eyes, cheeks, and lips. Loaded with Castor Oil, this all-around stick gives a radiant glow with a buildable pop of color. Another hybrid product is the Issy & Co. Active Skin Tint. Its breathable and lightweight formula gives a sheer hint of color while providing sun protection with SPF 35, blending skincare and makeup into one easy-to-apply base. For the brows, the Maybelline Define and Blend is a definite must-have if you’re after convenience and precision. With its perfectly angled tip, this brow pen allows you to create defined and filled brows with just a few strokes.

Skintellectual Solutions

With the wealth of knowledge on skincare and wellness available online, consumers are now more keen on the ingredients and benefits offered by products  – and we love to see it! Active beauty products such as the new L’Oreal Paris Glycolic Bright Face Serum are right on trend. Formulated with 1.0% Glycolic Acid, this serum is clinically proven to reduce 5 years of dark spots in just 2 weeks. For cleansing, go for the Happy Skin Clean & Exfoliate Massage Kit. This duo includes the Happy Skin Hyaluronic Soothing Cleansing Gel, which combines Hyaluronic Acid, Centella Asiatica, and Ceramide to hydrate and soothe the skin. Use this in tandem with the Massage Silicone device to dislodge deep-seated dirt and oil. While for dry skin, use the Aveeno Dermexa Daily Emollient Cream to moisturize and help strengthen the skin’s protective barrier. It’s unscented, paraben-free, and has a fast-absorbing formula infused with prebiotic Triple Oat Complex and Ceramides.

Going Green

The onset of the pandemic has given rise to more plastic consumption and waste. But alongside this, demands for sustainability also skyrocketed as consumers seek out products that offer ways to offset their environmental impact. The Garnier Super Glow Sampler Kit, which contains Vitamin C to fade and lighten dark spots and acne marks, comes in an all-sustainable and plastic-free packaging as part of the brand’s #OneGreenStep campaign. Last on the list is the Ellana Stay Fresh Powder Face Cleanser, a gentle mineral powder that refines pores and deep-cleanses the skin, without harsh and damaging side effects. It’s refillable and comes in paper packaging which is compostable and designed for minimum waste.

The bottom line is, the beauty industry will continue to adapt to the changing times and innovate to meet the evolving needs of consumers. That said, we can always look forward to new trends and game-changing products to try out. For more beauty deals, tips, and know-hows, check out Shopee Beauty: https://shopee.ph/m/shopee-beauty. Enjoy exclusive deals of up to 90% off from your favorite beauty brands and free shipping with a minimum spend of ₱499 for every purchase.

Want to stay on top of the latest beauty trends without breaking the bank? Make sure to check out with ShopeePay for exclusive perks and savings; such as daily free shipping and cashback vouchers. To enjoy even bigger savings, you can scan to pay with ShopeePay in-store to receive 20% cashback on your next health and beauty shopping spree at partner merchants such as Nature Republic, HBC, Vice Cosmetics, and Zen Zest.

With Shopee’s all-in-one e-wallet, you can also look forward to cashless payments and deals when you buy load, pay bills, and send money. Get up to 10% off on load across all networks and up to 25% cashback on your monthly bills from over 60 billers. Spread the word about these deals and keep your fellow beauty trendsetters in the know.

Cash in to ShopeePay from over 40+ partner banks, and get up to ₱25 cashback on your InstaPay fee when you cash in at least ₱300 using your preferred banking app. You can also enjoy free transfers to any bank or to any Shopee user so you can send payments to online beauty shops that only accept bank transfers.

To enjoy these exclusive deals and more, activate your ShopeePay now for a rewarding cashless experience.

Download the Shopee app for free via the App Store or Google Play.

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