Step 1: Steer clear of the colorful body chemical aisle.
An important aspect of preventing and healing cancer is to reduce your body’s toxic load. Many of us are unknowingly poisoning and polluting ourselves with what we put IN and ON our bodies. Simply put, the less toxins your body absorbs, the less work it has to do to detoxify. Make sense?
Besides processed food, another often overlooked source of chemical toxins is in the body care products we use daily: soap, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, make-up, lotion, toothpaste… it all adds up.
Today’s post is a guest blog from my friend and 10-year holistic non-Hodgkins lymphoma survivor Cortney Campbell of Anticancer Mom. I asked her to share her clean green beauty routine and favorite non-toxic personal care products, and she said yes, because she’s awesome.
When I began healing my cancer naturally back in 2008, it was a bit overwhelming. This new territory I ventured into came fully loaded with lots of vegetables I never knew existed (in a giant 64 ounce veggie smoothie), and tasks that I could never have imagined doing as a three-month newlywed (“Honey, it’s time for my enema. I’ll just be a moment!”)
But along with the nutritional and detoxification protocols I adopted, came the realization that I had to stop using what seemed like 99% of my beauty and hygiene products due to their potentially toxic chemical ingredients. These chemicals were being directly absorbed by my skin and into my bloodstream. Since I was working so hard to cleanse myself of anything that would hinder my healing, it didn’t make a bit of sense to continue putting chemical-laden products on my skin.
Keep in mind, I didn’t switch from my old products to these newer methods and products overnight. Some of this stuff I even figured out after I was in remission. This post is simply a list of the products I’ve found to be the least toxic but still affordable options for cleansing, moisturizing, and all of the other stuff that goes in with our bathroom routines. This is especially beneficial if you have cancer.
SHAMPOO & CONDITIONER
FAVE: “No ‘Poo” Hair Cleansing Method (baking soda and white or apple cider vinegar method) It’s really not as weird as it sounds. In the shower, you mix a small amount of baking soda in water and apply it to your hair to absorb the oils and neutralize stinkage. Then, you mix a small amount of vinegar with water and work it into your hair to “condition” and clarify your hair. And you’re done, that’s it. In the year that I used the No Poo method, I received more compliments than I had ever received about my hair, ever. This method would be hands down the least toxic method of cleaning your hair (and also the cheapest!) You may have to give it a few weeks for your body’s oil production to adjust to this method, so ladies- you may need to sport a ponytail or cute hat until things regulate.
RUNNER-UP: Hugo Naturals Volumizing Shampoo Vanilla & Sweet Orange I really like this for my dry, long hair. It scored a 1 in toxicity (the lower the number, the less toxic) on the Environmental Working Group rating scale. The Hugo Naturals accompanying conditioner is also safe and smells yummy.
FAVE: While healing from cancer, you can use Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soap, Unscented Baby Mild for almost anything. It’s also a 1 on EWG. You can mix it with essential oils for even more healing properties and scents.
FAVE: While healing from cancer I used olive oil to shave. Here’s a great explanation of how to do this, but be careful if shaving in the shower. It can make the floor VERY slippery (not that I experienced this or anything.)
FAVE: My absolute favorite way to cleanse my face is the Oil Cleansing Method. I wrote a blog post about it several years ago, and the science behind it is solid. Many store-bought face washes strip your face’s natural oil, dry out your skin, and can lead to an overproduction of your body’s natural oils to compensate. The cleansing oil I use (castor and olive oil) dissolves excess facial oil, but it won’t overstrip your skin of its moisture. You finish by steaming your face with a warm cloth. And yes, it also takes off my makeup.
RUNNER-UP: This homemade toothpaste
HAND & BODY LOTION
Organic Coconut Oil and Olive Oil (Mix them together in a 1:1 ratio) Super simple and super cheap. Next.
FAVE: My Homemade Coconut Oil Deodorant. Coconut oil, baking soda, and corn starch. I know it sounds weird, but read my detailed post about it, and you will understand my love for this deodorant method. No stink, super cheap, and it let’s you sweat, which is critical because that is how our body naturally detoxifies!
(Chris says: Straight coconut oil works well too. It passes my after-the-gym sniff test)
FAVE: I LOVE making homemade vanilla foaming soap made with Dr. Bronner’s Unscented Castile Soap. I empty out an old foaming soap container and then add about 1/4 cup Dr. Bronners, 1 Tbsp vanilla extract and then fill to the top with water. We walk around sniffing our hands in our house.
FOR CLEANING NIGHTGUARDS & RETAINERS
FAVE: I use warm water with 8-10 drops of Nutribiotic Grapefruit Seed Extract This disinfects, deordorizes, and is WAY healthier than any store-bought denture cleaner. You can also use it for disinfecting your toothbrush.
FAVE: The Sun! 15-30 minutes daily for the best Vitamin D around.
RUNNER-UP: On days that we are out in full sun exposure for longer than 30 minutes, we use Alba Botanicals Very Emollient Sunscreen. It’s affordable compared to most non-toxic sunscreens and it works really well! For my daughters, we use Alba Kids. Both are rated 2/10 on EWG. The only con is that they can get a little pasty if you put it on too thick.
Chris says: Sunscreens and sun exposure is definitely something you need to learn more about. See my post Do sunscreens prevent cancer or cause it?
BLEMISH CARE/ FACIAL MASK:
I rarely need this, but if I get a small blemish, I use Evan Healy Green Tea Clay Mask. Let it sit on the affected area overnight and wash off with a warm wash cloth.
HAIR COLOR/ DYES
This was by far the hardest thing for me to give up while I was treating my cancer with natural therapies. What kept me motivated was reading studies linking lymphoma with excessive chemical exposure (and a really cute haircut too.) I knew that there was no way getting around going blonde without exposure to ammonia to bleach my hair, so coloring was a no-go for me for almost a year.
Shortly after being declared in remission, I decided to search for safer options for hair color and write about my discoveries here.
Cortney Campbell authors the holistic cancer blog, Anticancer Mom, inspired by her experience healing from cancer using a non-toxic, holistic approach. A former elementary school teacher turned full-time mom, she dedicates her spare time to educating and encouraging others to prayerfully consider their options for healing from cancer.
The Environmental Working Group is a great place to find clean non-toxic body care brands.
What are your favorite natural non-toxic body care products? I’d love to know!
I've interviewed over 60 people who've healed all types and stages of cancer. Check them out here. Or use the search bar to find survivors of specific cancer types.