Would you be surprised if I shared that most skin care products are highly toxic? Maybe yes, maybe no. Well, they are. We put them on our skin and absorb these toxins into our blood stream. Not only are some of the ingredients toxic, some actually are cancer causing.
Responsible companies are now more aware that consumers are wanting organic skin care products that are safe, free from harmful toxins, chemicals, garbage, and drying ingredients.
How can you tell what is safe? Here is a list of some of the harmful ingredients to avoid:
Acrylamide; Alcohols, DEA (diethanolamine), MEA (monoethanolamine), and TEA (triethanolamine); Dioxane; Fragrance; Mineral oil: liquid paraffin, paraffin wax, petrolatum; Nitrosamines; Padimate-O – also known as octyl dimethyl; Parabens; Phenol carbolic acid; Polyethylene glycol (PEG); Rancid natural emollients; Toluene (found in artificial fragrances); and Triclosan;
Quite a list. It pays to look at labels to see what you are actually putting on your skin. Look for products that are free of the above ingredients and are approved as organic skin care.
For myself, I usually grab a shower in the morning. It’s faster and for easier for washing my hair.
However, when I’m not well or feeling stiff from too much exercise, I’ll run a bath. For a cold, etc., I love to put in a few drops of Eucalyptus Oil to clear out the sinuses. For stiff muscles, I use Epsom salts which pulls toxins from the body and the build up of lactic acid from exercise. Simple things that definitely make my body feel much better. Plus then I really enjoy a bath – can relax and just unwind.
Additionally, these are organic skin products that have no fragrance (perfume) – something to which I am highly sensitive, as I find most people are who have gone through cancer. More and more places are posting ‘No Fragrance Please’ signs up. I have trouble even walking through the beauty counters in department stores. I take a deep breath and hold it until I’m past that area.
Fresh, clean, invigorating is much better. It’s embracing your body with nature. By using products that are natural, free of chemicals, fragrances and not tested on animals, you are not only being kind to your body, but also to the environment.
Chemotherapy most often means hair loss. After treatment is over, hair does grow back in. It takes a month or so to get more than a bit of stubble (as in the picture – 2 months after treatment), but eventually you will have your hair back.
Interestingly, it doesn’t always come back the same as before. For some, it comes back really curly as mine did. For others, it can even change color. I’ve seen people who had black hair before who now have red hair or grey hair. And unfortunately, for some it comes back much thinner and never improves.
For those whose hair comes in really curly, know that eventually the curls will soften and again, for some, you will go back to the type of hair you had before treatment.
Going forward, you will want to take care of your new hair the same way you look after your skin – using organic skin care and hair care products. Some people even decide to not dye their hair (if it comes in grey) or use any chemicals. Your choice. After cancer, the fewer chemicals you submit your body to the better.
Absolutely. When you consider that chemotherapy drugs target all fast dividing cells, it stands to reason that your skin will be affected. Skin cells are fast dividing cells.
The intensity of the reaction will occur during the treatment phase whether it is radiation or chemotherapy.
- Radiation can cause burning of the skin for those with a fair or sensitive skin. I know that it was recommended to use a non-alum powder during radiation when I went through my treatment..
- Some chemotherapy drugs will cause peeling and/or burning and tingling of the hands and feet. Very uncomfortable. Dryness is another side effect, especially if a woman goes into menopause as a result of chemotherapy.
- Sun sensitivity can be a side effect of chemotherapy. Use a moisturizing cream with sunscreen and make sure to wear a hat with a brim and cover up exposed skin as best you can.
This is why it is critically important to use organic skin care products that are free of chemicals, scents and additives. The more natural ingredients you can use, the more soothingly they will be on your skin. You already have enough chemicals going through your body, why add any more and run the risk they will interact badly with your treatment.
Even after all treatment is finished, it is still advised to use organic skin care products as some reactions will linger and possibly be an issue in the years to come.
Cancer changes the chemistry of our skin – drugs and treatments such as radiation. Sensitivity to sunlight, allergic reactions to our usual products, interaction with certain treatments such as alum and radiation are all issues in the cancer journey, not only during treatment, but often in the years after treatment..
Moving towards organic skin care makes sense as one is more aware that what you put on your skin absorbs into your body. Natural and organic skin care products are:
- made from organic ingredients
- alcohol free
- paraben free
- chemical free
- sulphate free
Not only are they better for our bodies, they also feel wonderful on your skin. You will notice the difference in how your skin feels and looks. Many products also come fragrance free for those who are sensitive to scents.
And, after cancer, who wants to add more chemicals into their body. Most of us are working to rid our bodies of harmful toxins and creating a more healthy environment all around.
Having gone through radiation and chemotherapy, the realization came that there are other ways that we chemicalize ourselves – often unwittingly.
Skin care products is just one of many ways we do this. Many harmful chemicals are used in most of the over the counter products we are exposed to every day. Here are a few ingredients to watch for on the label:
Mineral oil, paraffin wax, paraffin oil, sodium laureth sulfate, talc powder, toluene, sodium hydroxide, rancid oils, propylene or butylene glycol, lanolin, fragrance and finally, isothiazolinone.
Our skin breathes and whatever we put on our skin is absorbed into the body. Harmful substances such as the ones above can cause damage ranging from clogging pores to skin damage to intake of carcinogens resulting in cell damage.
There are more natural and organic skin care products on the market these days. Make sure to check these products as well to ensure that they are, in fact, natural and/or organic.
Our complexion (skin) is the outer sign of health. When it becomes dull, dry and/or blemished, it indicates that we might need to pay attention to our lifestyle – diet, sleep, habits, environment.
With cancer, skin is affected by cancer treatments, both chemotherapy and radiation. The body is being exposed to chemicals, both internally and externally. Chemicals in skin care products and makeup often create unwelcome reactions.
It is therefore very important, for both men and women, to find and use organic skin care products – those that are free of harmful chemicals and aligned environmentally.
Skin is a barometer of how we are feeling, what we are or are not eating, is susceptible to climate changes, and often erupts with rashes, itching, etc. due to drug interactions. Going through radiation and chemotherapy treatments for cancer definitely affects our skin.
It is so important to find Organic Skin and Hair Care Products to use during this time. Our skin is more sensitive to harmful and harsh ingredients while going through treatment and needs to be pampered with safe and natural skin care. Perfume and/or scent is often not tolerated. Our Wellspring cancer center has signs up asking members to please not wear perfume. For many, this is an issue no matter what their situation – certainly is for me.
Be aware, read the list of ingredients, choose skin care products that have few if any chemicals and watch your skin benefit. I’ve had to do this for years as I have sensitive skin which was complicated by all the heavy makeup I wore when I was in the theatre. Going through chemotherapy and radiation made me doubly aware of what I put on my body.
Be kind to yourself and your skin. It pays to not only eat right and radiate from the inside out, but to also make sure you are protecting your skin from the outside in.
All women, not just cancer patients, need to be aware of the toxins we introduce to our bodies through skincare. Think of all of the things you put on your face in a single day: cleanser, toner, moisturizer, foundation, eye shadow, mascara, lipstick, blush, and the list goes on. Tons of chemicals go into these mass-produced products with little thought to how these toxins can build up and affect your health over time.
Even so-called organic beauty products undergo lengthy processes where ingredients are saponified, clarified, deodorized, and heated to high temperatures. All of these processes degrade the natural ingredients to the point where they do little to benefit skin. Thankfully, organic skin care delivers raw, food grade organic ingredients that are beneficial to the skin. The enzymes, vitamins, and other properties of the ingredients actually have a chance to penetrate the skin and give you the soft, supple skin you’ve paid for and that you deserve.
There are many products on the market these days promising anti-aging, natural and/or organic, fragrance free, etc. Many of these products have chemicals that are harmful to the skin and our environment. However, there is a growing awareness of safe cosmetics – those that are not only good for the environment (green) but are also good for our skin. One such agency for information is the The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.
Here is a list of chemicals to avoid cited by The Breast Cancer Fund, especially for those going through cancer where extra care is needed:
- Anti-aging creams with lactic, glycolic, AHA and BHA acids
- Hair dyes, especially dark permanent dyes
- Liquid hand soaps with triclosan/triclocarban
- Nail polish and removers with formaldehyde, DBP or toluene (which can be contaminated with benzene)
- Skin lighteners with hydroquinone
- Heavily scented products
- Moisturizers, ointments and skin creams with petrolatum (which can be contaminated with PAHs)
- Fungicides, shaving creams, hair gels and hair coloring containing nonylphenol
- Hair spray, gel, mousse or shaving cream that contains isobutane, a propellant that can be contaminated with 1,3-butadiene
- Sunscreens with UV filters that mimic estrogen
Whether you have cancer or not, finding quality, true organic skin care products is worth the search. Have a look at what you are currently using. Do your products fit within these guidelines? Your skin, whole body, and our environment will benefit if you switch.