As you may or may not know, my future sis’-in-law’s life was turned upside down when she discovered that she has inherited the mutated form of the BRCA1 gene.
‘I didn’t really make any big lifestyle changes immediately after finding out that I carry a mutated BRCA1 gene (giving me an 87% of developing breast cancer and a 60% chance of developing ovarian cancer at some point in my life, compared to the respective 12% and 1% risk of the general population). (…) I didn’t change my diet or beauty habits, because I didn’t consider the latter two could be doing me any harm. One year on and things are starting to change quickly and drastically…’
I’ve been aware of all the carcinogenic chemicals in our fruit and veg’ as well as the increased risk of getting cancer from eating all sorts of processed food for a while now – as a result I try, whenever possible, to mostly buy the organic, unprocessed stuff. Before she pointed it out however, I rarely gave a second thought to the potions and lotions I lather myself with daily.
Yes, there were several occasions in the last few years when chemicals in our cosmetics made it in the news (in France anyway). Paraben, aluminum salts… we found out that these nasties, which you can be sure are present in many of the cosmetics and products you use on a daily basis, were oh-so very bad for you (read: they give you cancer). Who knew that even moisturising your face was potentially dangerous for your health and that you should actually be challenging what you’ve been told your whole life to be perfectly safe? Ask yourself – do I have any idea what I’m putting on my skin?
After those scandals, cosmetics companies started making products without said components – paraben free, aluminum salts free… I mean it even says it on the packaging so it means it’s all better and safe now right?
Hmmm…. so why were these companies putting carcinogens in their products to begin with if they were so easy to leave out in the first place? They obviously had a purpose so – what was it and what components were added to replace them? Have these substitutes been tested? Do we know their long term effects? Are they in actual fact better or worse than their predecessors??
Out of all the glossy paraben free products below, I wonder how many of them can actually boast that they are harmless and carcinogen-free? I mean orange is the new black right, so what’s the new paraben? Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to single out or demonise any of the brands featured in this picture… I’m asking a genuine question. Some of them may well be natural and harmless. But I struggle to believe that they all are. Or that any of them are.
At the end of the day, paraben and aluminum salts are two of the evils the media were ‘kind enough’ to let us know about… But what do we know about the rest of the ingredients in our deodorants/shampoos/moisturisers/anti-aging creams etc…?
‘Then one day I was applying moisturiser, and thought about what was in it, and what made it smell the way it did. I did my homework and realised that much of what we put on our skin, goes straight into our bloodstreams, so of course, it’s just as important to pay attention to cosmetics as it is to food. I began looking up each ingredient on each product (those that even stated it – some don’t) and was pretty horrified. I found parabens and other chemicals, artificial fragrances which can damage fertility among other things. (…)
Everyone has 2 BRCA genes. They’re there to protect you against certain cancers by repairing cell damage. The thing is, one of mine doesn’t work properly, so putting chemicals in my body is particularly detrimental to my health. A healthy and natural lifestyle is thus very important to me, but for me, it should be important to everyone.‘
With age comes wisdom (jk) and overtime I have realised how important it is to be aware of these issues and to constantly question what we have been taught to see as the norm. I’m not looking to be a panic merchant here, I don’t want to spend my time constantly worried and stressed out about what I ingest or apply on my skin etc… But I am grateful that Sis’-in-law opened my eyes that bit wider. I may not carry the BRCA1 mutated gene, I may not be as much at risk as she is, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that we are all at risk to some extent; after all, there isn’t a month that goes by where I don’t learn about someone in my entourage dying of cancer. And indeed David Bowie and Alan Rickman are some of cancer’s latest celebrity victims (RIP guys, I sincerely admired you).
So without going overboard, I’m slowly trying to live a more natural life. I wash my face with a Konjac sponge, my facial moisturizer is apparently 95% natural (better than nothing ey), and my LilyEtMoi lip balm and soap are 100% natural. Baby steps right?
FYI, if you live in Europe, check out Paris-based Sis’-in-law’s homemade LilyEtMoi organic cosmetics (take a look at her sexy Etsy shop!). She makes them with TLC and all natural ingredients and they’re fab. Cancer free cosmetics peeps. That’s all I’m saying.