Have you been thinking about changing your shampoo and conditioner to a more natural alternative since your cancer diagnosis?
Switching out all my cosmetics and skincare for more natural or 100% natural alternatives was one of the first things I started doing in the early months after my own diagnosis.
I started to wonder about all the many chemicals in all the different products I used and was exposed to during the course of a day. Then I went through all the drawers in my bedroom and bathroom and was horrified at the amount of products I had containing parabens.
What are parabens?
Parabens are a class of widely-used preservatives in cosmetic and pharmaceutical products. They are typically found in shampoos, commercial moisturisers, shaving gels, personal lubricants, pharmaceuticals, spray tan products, makeup and toothpaste. They are also used as food additives.
While the chemicals in cosmetics make us look, feel, and smell better, research strongly suggests that at certain exposure levels, some of these chemicals may contribute to the development of cancer in people. But because personal care products contain a diverse combination of chemicals, it’s nearly impossible to show a definite cause and effect for any specific chemical on its own.
Still, many of these chemicals are considered hormone disruptors. Hormone disruptors can affect how estrogen and other hormones act in the body, by blocking them or mimicking them, which throws off the body’s hormonal balance. Because estrogen can make hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer develop and grow, many women choose to limit their exposure to these chemicals that can act like estrogen.
Steps you can take
While cosmetics and personal care products are made up of a number of ingredients, there are two groups of chemicals that are being studied for links to breast cancer.
- Parabens (the most common are methylparaben, propylparaben, ethylparaben, and butylparaben) are chemicals commonly used as preservatives in many cosmetic products, including makeup, moisturisers, hair care products, and shaving creams/gels (most major brands of antiperspirants and deodorants don’t contain parabens). Parabens can penetrate the skin and act like a very weak estrogen in the body — potentially turning on the growth of hormone-receptor-positive breast cancers. Parabens have been found in breast tissue and breast cancers, but this really doesn’t mean much. Parabens have been found in many other tissues because of their wide use.
- Phthalates are commonly used to hold colour and reduce brittleness in nail polish and hair spray. They’re also a component of many personal care and cleaning product fragrances. Phthalates are a hormone disruptor. Phthalates don’t act exactly like estrogen, but they can disrupt the balance of other hormones that interact with estrogen, including testosterone.
To reduce your exposure to parabens and phthalates:
- Visit the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Skin Deep website to search for the cosmetic products that you use. Products are given a hazard score by EWG based on the ingredients’ links to cancer, allergies, and other issues. The EWG is an environmental health advocacy organisation based in the United States. You may not find all your exact products but you can also search for similar products or particular ingredients.
- Start switching the products you use regularly one at a time (or all at once if you are so inclined!) to more natural alternatives (many of which will clearly state they are paraben- and phthalate-free).
And so I started switching out my products, one by one, as they ran out, and I’ve never looked back.
One of the first things I changed was my shampoo and conditioner.
Shampoo and Conditioner from The Handmade Soap Company
The Handmade Soap Company is an Irish brand which I first noticed in Avoca (my favourite shopping destination!). I was very impressed with their hand lotion which I bought for my terribly dry skin last winter.
Now The Handmade Soap Company have a Shampoo and Conditioner and I think they’d make great options to switch to if you’re taking the leap. Even better – Trish from The Handmade Soap Company has confirmed for me that neither of these products contain parabens or phthalates – so no research needed here.
With vibrant essential oils, and naturally caring lemongrass, this shampoo gently cleanses hair, leaving it shiny and cared-for. The Handmade Soap Company have left out all parabens, SLS (sodium laureth sulfate) and synthetic colours, so it won’t strip your hair of its natural oils, and brings the naturally uplifting fragrances of lemongrass with earthy cedarwood. It’s priced at €15.95 for 300ml and you can buy it here.
Aqua (water), Cocamidopropyl Betaine±, Sodium Cocoyl Sarcosinate+, Disodium Lauryl Sulfosuccinate+, Glyceryl Laurate+, Benzyl Alcohol, Dehydroacetic Acid, Polysorbate 20, Cymbopogon Schoenanthus (Lemongrass) Oil*, Cedrus Atlantica (Cedarwood) Oil*, Amyris Balsamifera (Amyris) Bark Oil*, Citrus Nobilis (Mandarin) Peel Oil*, Pogostemon Cablin (Patchouli) Oil*, Pelargonium Graveolens (Geranium) Oil*
+ from plants & vegetables ± from coconut * pure essential oil
Treat your tresses (especially new hair after chemo) with this gorgeously natural conditioner. Infused with essential oils and soothing lemongrass, it hydrates and revives all hair types. Also priced at €15.95 for 300ml, and you can buy it here.
Aqua (water), Cetearyl Alcohol±, Glycerin+, Distearoylethyl Dimonium Chloride±, Polyquaternium 7, Benzyl Alcohol, Dehydroacetic Acid, Cymbopogon Schoenanthus (Lemongrass) Oil*, Cedrus Atlantica (Cedarwood) Oil*, Amyris Balsamifera (Amyris) Bark Oil*, Citrus Nobilis (Mandarin) Peel Oil*, Pogostemon Cablin (Patchouli) Oil*, Pelargonium Graveolens (Geranium) Oil*
=+ from plants & vegetables ± from coconut * pure essential oil
The Handmade Soap Company has offered to give away a set of their Shampoo and Conditioner to one lucky Happy Magazine reader!
All you need to do to enter is leave a comment below – tell us if you have switched your products or if you are planning to.
The winner will be announced on 24 August here on Happy Magazine. Good luck!