17 Non-Toxic Beauty Products I Used During My Cancer Treatment
When battling cancer, it’s truly amazing what a swipe of bold red lipstick or a simple sheet mask can do for you physical and mental wellbeing — trust me, I know from personal experience. That said, one thing cancer fighters and survivors should always be mindful of throughout their journey is the use of non-toxic beauty products.
Aside from wanting to avoid exposure to potentially harmful chemicals during cancer treatment, natural products tend to be milder on the skin — which can become especially sensitive while undergoing rounds of chemotherapy and radiation.
The key here is to be on the lookout for toxic ingredients and where your beauty products are sourced from as regulations differ around the globe. The European Union has outlawed 1328 product toxins, whereas the U.S. has banned a mere 30.
Given cancer fighters and survivors are already in a tumultuous, high-risk state, they should also be conscious of common toxic beauty ingredients that have been linked to cancer, such as polyethylene glycols, triclosans, and diethanolamine or DEA. Hormone and reproductive disrupting toxins, like parabens, BHA, and phthalates, are also a prime concern for people with estrogen receptive cancers.
But thanks to apps like Think Dirty and toxic-rating scales like EWG Skin Deep, it's easier than ever to educate yourself on which clean products are authentic. The knowledge isn't all in the apps of course: They're a good starting point, but you should always check with your dermatologist and oncologist to ensure that testing out new products or beauty regimens will not interfere with your treatment in any way — even if they're natural or non-toxic.
As an editor, blogger, and synovial sarcoma cancer survivor myself, I've personally tested an array of beauty products throughout my health and career journey. Today, I stand proudly clean — both from cancer and from toxic beauty ingredients due to my life-threatening diagnosis.
Here are 17 of my recommended non-toxic beauty buys to help you feel your best while you beat cancer.
Oil For Nausea Relief
This organic peppermint essential oil is a fantastic natural nausea remedy that can help to ease one of the potential side effects of chemotherapy. To get some relief, you can try massaging the oil into your abdomen, or use it in a diffuser for aromatherapy. It has a fresh scent and even offers a cooling sensation when applied to the skin. However, if you've noticed that your skin has become sensitive, you may want to try diluting the oil by mixing it with a clean medium like lotion, water, or soap.
Lotions & Balms For Dry, Sensitive Skin
Saturate your skin with this 100 percent natural, ultra-hydrating lavender lotion from Farmaesthetics, which includes calendula to help heal chapped, burned, or damaged skin — ideal for patients experiencing radiation treatment. Synthetic-free and non-toxic, you can use this moisturizer on any and every part of your body.
Dermatologists often recommend patients undergoing cancer treatment to add a heavy-duty healing ointment to their routine due to its dense and effective composition. However, many of these balms include petrochemicals which studies have shown to have cancer-causing properties. But this clean multipurpose balm is free of toxins and perfect to put on any area where you've developed severe dryness and discomfort.
False Lashes & Brows
Fake it until you make it — the non-toxic way, of course. These eco-friendly, 100 percent silk lashes come with an all-natural lash glue. The adhesive itself boasts a blend of biotin as well as chamomile extract, which will help to stimulate natural hair growth while also keeping your falsies in place.
Volition is a clean beauty company that offers eyebrow wigs made especially for people battling cancer. Available in light and dark brown, these 100 percent human brows look anything but fake, and left me feeling amazing. On top of that, 30 percent of the proceeds from all Mission Brown purchases go directly to the Ulman Cancer Fund, a program that helps support young adults fighting cancer.
Products To Stimulate Hair Growth
Grow thick, luscious locks after completing chemotherapy with the help of the Intelligent Nutrients PurePlenty package which uses ajuga plant stem cells to regenerate hair follicle growth. After finishing my chemo treatment, I tried a variety of hair growth serums, and this brand worked best for me — I grew silky soft, thick, and strong hair within a few months. Use the shampoo and serum directly on the scalp, then add the conditioner to help thicken your new strands.
Castor oil is an old-school and affordable method that's been reported to nourish growing hair and promote thicker hair strands. Simply give yourself a nice scalp massage with the oil or rub along your brows, making sure to coat all of your new growth.
Grow your wink-worthy lashes and bold brows back with the help of Plume’s all-natural lash and brow serum. Equipped with coltsfoot flower, organic castor oil, and vitamin E, this is the perfect blend to help you starting feeling like yourself again. The antioxidant-packed formula is free of parabens, sulfates, phthalates, or toxic ingredients of any kind.
Eye Products To Make You Look Less Tired
Brighten up your eyes with these eye masks from 100% Pure that work to de-puff and hydrate those drab, gray under-eye bags in as little as 15 minutes — perfect for those early morning doctor appointments. You can also keep these in the fridge if you like a fresh, cooling feeling under your eyes to start the day.
Make your eyes sparkle with the help of Aether Beauty’s rose-quartz-infused eyeshadow. The high-vibe sparkling pigments are organic, vegan, and even come in low-waste, sustainable packaging.
A 2014 study suggests that curcumin (a substance found in turmeric) may help to prevent cancer, so why not add it into your beauty routine? This creamy, moisturizing mask soothes and calms even the most dehydrated of skin types, and its formula helps to stimulate the skin's natural healing process.
Skip the spa and opt for Orgaid's organic sheet masks to enjoy a 5-star facial right at home. These handy masks help to hydrate the skin and promote skin brightening to get rid of any unwanted discoloration to even out your skin tone.
Products That Add A Natural-Looking Glow
Cancer patients may experience a little beauty phenomenon called "mood skin," a term coined by beauty guru, breast cancer survivor and author, Caitlin Kiernan, when the undertones change from gray to green like a mood ring. You can help to cover up mood skin and get a glow-worthy finish with Ere Perez’s natural rice powder bronzer.
Quick, easy, and multifunctional products are key for cancer patients commuting to and from doctor appointments. Opt for Ilia’s Multi-Stick —made with 72 percent organic ingredients and 100 percent natural dyes — that will not only give your lips a nice pop of color, but your cheeks and eyes as well.
Keep this handy hydrating mist conveniently tucked away in your purse or backpack to help your skin not only lock in moisture, but also give your face a nice, dewy glow when you're on-the-go.
Products For Aches, Pains, & Detoxing
A favorite of acupuncturist Kara Aculand is this lemongrass-scented pain relief balm, that she says is a must for body aches and pains. The formula includes key ingredients such as menthol, camphor, and citronella that help soothe muscles, reduce inflammation, and prevent infection — a triple threat to help reboot your body when you need it most.
Baths can be a cancer patient's best friend due to pesky PICC lines for chemotherapy. The Pursoma Resurrection Bath is one of the best detox baths you can use post-chemo that's formulated with potent green clay, sea salt, and Atlantic kelp. Indulge in some relaxing phone-free tub time and then wrap your body in a blanket or towel to experience the bath's sweat-inducing cleanse for approximately 30 minutes post-soak. It's life-changing, but don't forget to stay hydrated!
While non-toxic products can be a great way to go, it's important to remember that no cancer journey looks the same and your body may not take to every product — which is totally OK! Just be mindful of what works for you. However, if you're experiencing any skin issues of discomfort during this time, don't think twice about penciling in an appointment with your doctor or dermatologist.