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In John Emsley’s Better looking, Better living, Betting loving, he describes how our lives are influenced by chemical factors. Essentially all matters in our lives are chemically affected, for example, food, medicine, drugs, even our own human body. So how do these chemicals actually play a part in our lives?
When meeting someone for the very first time, the first thing you notice would be their appearance, which explains why appearance is important to most people. Usually, we would put on artificial materials, like makeup, extensions, and contacts, to make ourselves look more pleasing. One of the artificial materials people often use is hair dye. Hair color is a major aspect of our looks, a person’s hair color can bring out their eyes and their skin tone. Our natural hair color is a mix of phaeomelanin (blond) and eumelanin (black). Different proportions of the two melanin pigments produce different hair colors. Of course, every person’s hair color is dependent on genetics, but some may not be pleased with their natural hair color, this is where hair dye come into work. Hair dye is a chemically produced product that provides hair with temporary, semi-permanent, or permanent color. These three types of hair dyes not only last for different amounts of time but also applied differently and made from different components. Temporary hair dyes are made from FD Blue No.1, which is a large negative molecule, making it harder to blend in with the hair. Since FD Blue No.1 is a negatively charged molecule, the hair dye made from it is easily soluble in water, therefore when you take a shower the hair dye will wash off. On the other hand, hair dyes that generate permanent hair colors are made from small molecules. These molecules are reacted and combine with your hair cuticles to produce larger molecules, which are trapped in your hair resulting in the permanent color. With the help of ammonia, cuticles are permeable and able to open the hair shaft to trap the large molecules even after a rinse. Hair dyes may give you a hair color you desire to make you look more appealing, however, some hair colorants aren’t dependable. Especially those for men, those hair colorants are made from lead acetate, which is essentially poisonous for the human body. If looking at more severe situations, hair dyes can also cause cancer. Now I understand why my parents refuse to let me dye my hair.
Normally the first feature you see on someone’s face is their eyes. In many beauty standards, glasses are the opposite of attractiveness, thus the solution was, contact lenses. Contact lenses are glasses made to fit into your eyes, which is a very difficult. The contact lenses not only has to fit the cornea but also prevent oxygen from entering. Furthermore, it should be able to block bacteria that can cause infections. There are various risks for both soft and hard contacts. Soft contacts are made of silicone, with the right amount it will do its part in blocking out the oxygen. However, too much of silicone will result in water-repelling contact lenses that cannot be placed in the eye. Hard contacts, normally worn at night, are made from silicone-hydrogel. The purpose of hard contacts is to improve day vision by pushing your eyes down while you are sleeping. This can be harmful to the eyes because the corneas will be deprived of oxygen and cause irritation in the eyes. Although hard contacts are uncomfortable, they do have a PVP (polyvinylpyrrolidone) layer keeping the contacts wet so it doesn’t dry your eyes. Despite the contribution to improving appearances, artificial materials also have their disadvantages.
Speaking of appearances, no one worries about looks more than teenagers. Teenagers, like me, can relate to skin diseases especially acne, since it’s considered as a skin disease. Other skin diseases include Eczema and Psoriasis. Acne usually starts during the most vulnerable years of our lives, puberty. When teenagers go through puberty, a surge of hormones start hitting them without any warning. The increasing amount of hormone production increases something called sebum production as well. When the amount of sebum created exceeds the limit, bacteria such as Propionibacterium acnes starts irritating the skin. These bacteria create chemicals that can destroy the sebaceous glands, which are usually found on our face. As a result, breakouts mostly happens on our faces. Many treatments can be used to eliminate acne, for instance, antibiotics. By taking antibiotics you can reduce the number of bacteria formed, but the bacteria may become resistant to the medication, which means a stronger antibiotic must be taken afterward. I personally struggle with acne as well, after consulting with my doctor, she prescribed some over-the-counter medications for me. This includes 5% benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. These medications reduce inflammation and redness but can cause the skin to be dry and irritated. Another medication used is Isotretinoin, which stops the development of sebum. This medication can cause severe side effects like sore eyes and cracked lips, therefore can only be used at a hospital where a dermatologist is present.
Another skin disease that’s common is Eczema. Eczema is patches of blistering skin that leads to itchiness. Many children develop eczema before they turn a year old. My cousin has had eczema ever since he was two years old, some symptoms are dryness, itchiness, and redness of the skin. There are two types of Eczema, one called Seborrhoeic eczema and the other atopic eczema. My cousin has atopic eczema, which is why his doctor told him to go on a diet. No eggs, milk, shellfish, or nuts were allowed in his diet. If he even touches these foods, it will cause his skin to be more itchy and red. If the skin is scratched open, it can get infected by Staphylococcus bacteria or Herpes simplex that can cause complications. Usually, ointments are used to relieve the itchiness and repairs the dry skin to prevent infections.
The last type of skin disease is called Psoriasis. Psoriasis is when skin gathers and develop dry and itchy patches. Psoriasis the two outermost layers of our skin thickens and immune cells clump together. The itchy skin is caused by “over-reactive skin cells in the lower layer of the epidermis dividing 20 times faster than normal”. (Emsley 44) when affected by Some common symptoms include redness, flakiness, and rashes. Psoriasis also has a correlation with stress and depression, so psychological treatments like therapy can be an effective treatment. Another treatment is medications with vitamin D, it decreases the number of itchy patches form on the skin by increasing calcium levels in the bloodstream. Many advanced medications are still in the process of development, but we should depend on medications.
In order to avoid diseases and illnesses, a healthy lifestyle must be followed. “You are what you eat” is a common saying, our health can be affected by the food we put into our system. The first step of having a healthier lifestyle is to eat healthily. Our body needs certain types of food to carry out normal body functions. For example, carbohydrates, provide our bodies with a source of energy. Carbohydrates are foods that are made from fructose, starch, and fiber. With the help of enzymes, we can break down the carbohydrates and turn it into energy. Other than providing energy, complex forms of Carbohydrates are used to restrict blood clots and help manage asthma attacks. Furthermore, Carbohydrates also help deliver medication drugs to treat illnesses. Since some medications cannot be dissolved in the bloodstream, it can get stuck and not transported to the place where it is needed. Carbohydrates help by dissolving the medication and then transporting it to its desired location. Carbohydrates not only proves our bodies with energy but also perform many other functions that benefit us.
As shown in the book, chemicals are involved in every aspect of our lives, typically more involved when diseases take over our body, which is why it’s important to stay healthy and take care of ourselves.

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