Twelve years ago I was running with one of my closest friends. We both loved to run and had set health and fitness goals related to my pending wedding in Maui. She complained of breast pain. As my feet pounded on the ground, my thoughts repeated on a loop “it couldn’t be breast cancer. We were young, healthy women.” I, of course, diligently went home and researched it, returning on our next run with the good news from Dr. Google. Most breast cancer is not accompanied by pain. It was probably something else. Something more benign.
After my wedding, she told me there was a lump and it was getting biopsied. It was cancer. She had no family history. I went with her to the surgeon appointment and asked, “With no family history, how does a healthy, young non-smoker get cancer. How does my friend have cancer?”
He replied, “It’s likely environmental – what you eat, put on your body, breathe.”
My eyes were opened and my world of blindly smearing, rubbing, spraying, swiping forever changed. I began examining the products I used in daily life – shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, lotion, perfume, make-up, soap. At the time, it was challenging to find non-toxic products. There was Dr. Bronner’s and the Crystal. You could also make your own products, but it was hard to get it right. I adopted some new product choices, the best I could find, and for lack of being able to find other natural solutions, paired down the number of products I used.
A few years later, another friend was diagnosed with cancer in his thirties. It was the same scenario – healthy, non-smoker, young. The environment was again to blame. My friend died at 36. That meant every toxic product in my life had to go. The quest was on for products I could live with and would hopefully let me live.
Now, finding non-toxic products is much easier. But achieving the same result as their mainstream counterparts has proven more difficult. One of the toughest. Hair products that added shine, moisture and manageability to my wavy hair. But, through a great deal of research and trial, I discovered these:
Rare Elements Pure Shampoo and Essential Conditioner. Both are thick and a little goes a long way. The conditioner is more like a treatment that doesn’t weigh down the hair. The result is shiny, hydrated hair. I also really like Briogeo Rosarco Repair. They key here is that these products work in the same way as mainstream hair products – don’t make my scalp greasy and provide the style I seek.
I’m a double-condition fan. My go to for a leave-in conditioner has been this Reverie Milk leave-in conditioner for smoothing and de-frizzing, followed by Briogeo’s Rosarco Blow Dry Perfection and Heat Protectant. I often also smooth with whatever oil I dab on my face after make-up – usually a blend of marula and argan oils – to my ends.
In a perfect world, we’d make our own products. Clean ingredients we know plus much less waste. Watch this space for our attempt, and share your own natural picks in the meantime.