Protecting Yourself At The Hair Salon From Those Chemicals

Image Source: / Marin

Image Source: / Marin

Protecting Yourself At The Hair Salon From Those Chemicals

Many of my thrivers are concerned about the need to protect themselves at the hair salon from all of those chemicals, and rightfully so.  Conventional hair dyes, chemical straighteners, hair relaxers, bleach, etc are putting us at a higher risk for breast cancer [1].  If you are having any of these chemicals put onto your head of hair, please read this article for some great tips on how to protect yourself, as well as how to detox afterward (if I can’t talk you out of using them).

The Problem Is…

When you consider that more than one third of women over the age of 18 – and plenty of men over the age of 40 – use some form of hair dye, and when you understand that over 5,000 chemicals are used to create these products, many of which have not been proven to be safe for humans to use, you begin to understand the scope of the problem.

Aren’t we protected by the FDA?  No, because hair dyes are classified as personal care products and the FDA currently does not require ANY mandatory testing for these products before they are put on the market.  You might be interested to know that over its long history of monitoring the cosmetics industry, the FDA has only ever banned 9 personal care products.  Disgusting but true.  So don’t rely on them to keep you safe.

Not all hair colors/dyes are terrible, but you do need to be proactive and check them out.  You can do that on the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Skin Deep database.  The EWG has around 600 hair colors listed on their database, the majority of which are considered to be high hazards because the chemicals within them are linked to cancer, neurotoxicity, developmental and reproductive toxicity, immune system problems, allergies, skin irritations, eye irritations, lung problems, and the list goes on.

So What’s Best To Do?  

Because so many of the chemicals used in hair colors and other hair products have not been proven to be safe for humans to use, indeed some are known carcinogens, I recommend removing them from your life, particularly if you have breast cancer (or any other kind of cancer).

The scalp has a rich blood supply and is quite capable of transporting the toxins in these products throughout the entire body. I’ve said this before and I stick with it now – you really should not put anything on your body that you would not be comfortable eating.  Because it will end up in your bloodstream.

Anyone who puts these chemicals in their hair is at risk.  Particularly women who are pregnant or breastfeeding – I strongly advise they completely stay away from hair colors because of the impact they can have on the unborn child.  If you are a hairdresser, you absolutely must be wearing protective gear like gloves (at the very least) and even a breathing mask would be a good idea, some of these chemicals are noxious for the lungs as well.

Having said all of that, I know what women are like (being one myself 🙂 ).  We want our pretty hair colors and that bit of grey covered up.  Please keep reading, all is not lost.

If You Are Using Conventional Hair Dye, Tips For Minimizing Exposure

If you feel you simply must use conventional hair dyes, you can minimize your exposure by following these 4 tips:

1.  Try to find more natural hair color brands.  For the do-it-yourselfer at home, one brand I can recommend is Light Mountain, they are available on and they have a hazard rating of 0 by EWG.  Sante Herbal Hair Colors and Lagona Herbal Hair Colors are also considered safe to use, and are both available on

2.  If you are going to use conventional hair colors (the ones with all the chemicals), try to avoid permanent hair colors, these are known to be the most toxic. If you choose semi-permanent and temporary colors you get less of a load of toxins.  You can also avoid the darkest shades – while all of the colors use about the same chemicals, there are more of those chemicals in the dark brown and black shades than in the lighter shades like red, blonde or light brown.

3. If you are using the services of a hairdresser, try to find one that uses herbal products or that  caters to people with multiple chemical sensitivities.

4.  See my list of detox tips below if using conventional hair products.

How To Detox Your Body After A Visit To The Hair Salon

If you are coming into contact with conventional hair products (the ones with all the chemicals), you are putting your body into a potentially toxic situation.  There are ways of decreasing the risk, however, I would not rely upon these alone.  Abstention is still the best route.  But if you feel compelled to continue using conventional hair products, please know there are things you can do to help minimize your exposure.

In the days just prior and just subsequent to your visit to the hair salon, the following things can be of great assistance to your ability to excrete the toxic chemicals:

1.  Antioxidant vitamins minimize the free radicals caused by chemical exposure.  Including a high potency antioxidant vitamin containing vitamins C, E and beta-carotene will be extremely beneficial.

2. Fresh green juices or smoothies containing kale, cilantro (especially when combined with chlorella), parsley, ginger and/or alfalfa help to detoxify the system and pull chemicals out of the body.

3. Studies indicate that spices such as clove, cilantro and cardamom all have high antioxidant activity and are able to chelate (latch onto) heavy metals from the body. [2]  Be sure to add them to your juices or smoothies.

4.  Dandelion root tea (Taraxacum officinale) is a great herb for purifying the blood and for its ability to filter toxic chemicals from the bloodstream. It promotes liver health as well. You can take it in the form of a tea, Amazon has it.

5.  Echinacea angustifolia is a well known herb for its good benefits on boosting immunity, but it is also a good blood cleanser and helps stimulate the lymphatic system, enabling it to remove toxic substances from the body.  Easily available from Amazon.

6.  Licorice root tea (Glycyrrhiza glabra) is an excellent detoxification herb, a blood cleanser and excellent for liver health.  Also available from Amazon.

7.  Sweat it out.  Go to the gym for a workout, ride a bicycle in hilly terrain, do a kickboxing class (insert your favorite form of exercise here!) but aim to increase your activity to a level where you induce a sweat for at least 15-20 minutes.  You can also sit in a sauna or infrared sauna where you sweat for at least 15-20 minutes. This is a great way to decrease a toxin overload.

8.  Take fulvic acids, they are great natural detoxifying agents and our diet is completely devoid of them. They help to chelate heavy metals and toxins and carry them out of the body, they are also excellent antioxidants.  Here is the brand I use, the highest quality fulvic acids product on the market.

9.  Drink plenty of water with a little lemon added, at least 8 glasses of filtered, high quality water per day to help your body detoxify and cleanse itself.

10.  Take a detox bath.  A bath full of hot water with specific things added in is a great way to begin the detoxification process.  See my article How To Detox In Your Bathtub for some good tips.

11.  Get plenty of sleep – after you have been to the hair salon be cognizant of the fact that the best way for the body to detoxify, restore and replenish itself is when you sleep.

One More Thing…

Why do we feel we have to color our hair to be beautiful?  That’s the topic of a whole other article, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with your natural hair color.  It’s you, it’s who you are.  Be bold and try a year without hair color, you might actually like the way you look even better and your body will love you for it.


[1] Study links hair dyes, chemical straighteners to increased risk of breast cancer –

[2]  Free radical scavenging activity, metal chelation and antioxidant power of some of the Indian spices –

GET MY BEST TIPS on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right.  You can also “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates.  I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.

Guest Post: Katey Mason of Aurora Strait Naturals April!  I am handing today’s blog over to Katey Mason of Aurora Strait Naturals, a brand new Australian company dedicated to creating pure, natural products with no nasties or toxic chemicals for parents, children and the home.  I think Katey and her business partner have a really beautiful business ethic, their products are gorgeous and I am very happy to help them get the word out.

Katey writes:

I was very young when I had my first son and was often misguided into things that I thought I HAD to do – feed him cow’s milk, vaccinate him (controversial), I was even under the impression that those jars of pre-made meals were good for him!  As he got a little older I started doing what every new parent should do (research) and found some nasty truths in a lot of things and I regretted going along with the mainstream even though I thought I was doing right by him.

After my second son was born I was very strict about what he ate and made sure that everything that went into his tummy was organic and homemade, until one day I looked at the ingredients of an “organic” bottle of lotion I went to apply to his dry skin.  I can tell you right away that the “organic” label certainly did not mean “good for you”.  There were ingredients that I couldn’t pronounce or even begin to think about where they came from and so I looked them up on a search engine.


I was taking all these pains and efforts to make sure my sons were being looked after from the inside and I didn’t even realise they were also being poisoned from the outside.  I began looking around and being a mother with two young boys and not yet back at work, I couldn’t afford to buy these products that were offered to me at such a high price.  So I began to research some more and having some experience in my kitchen and having a slight knowledge for essential oils and herbs, I decided to make my own.  To my complete shock, what I had come up with was amazing and it worked beautifully.  I ended up replacing every single one of our body care products: body wash, soap, lotions, talcum powder and facial cleansers.  I felt much better – physically and mentally – knowing that I was looking after myself without any harsh chemicals or cancer causing parabens.

I researched and studied enough so that I could perfect my recipes and hand them out to my friends so they could try and make a difference to their bodies too.  After trying them out, I had such wonderful feedback!   And so the idea of “Aurora Naturals” was born.  I could sell my natural, chemical- and cruelty-free products to people at a fraction of the cost of what they are paying in mainstream stores for products that are mass produced and riddled with all sorts of horrible ingredients.  When I mentioned this to my friend in America, Tessa Strait, she told me how she had been making soap for a long time and wanted to do the same thing.

Having the same goals and the same passion for natural products without ripping people off, we decided to merge and make a bi-continental company, “Aurora Strait Naturals”.  We both feel very strongly about giving our babies, friends and family the very best – and we want everyone to be able to experience natural and opulent products, not just those who can afford to pay for products that are heavily marked up so that companies can make fast money.  We have combined our recipes and skills and now we offer an array of home and body care lotions, body butters, body scrubs, eczema ointment, air refreshers, candles and much more.  We also have a specific baby care range to help mothers and fathers give their newborn babies the very best start all natural and cruelty-free ingredients.

We are constantly broadening our product lists as well as our education to ensure we offer the very best, custom, natural products we possibly can.  Please visit our Facebook page at and feel free to message us at any time with any questions or information.

Update:  Aurora Strait Naturals now has a website:  Aurora Strait Naturals

Brilliant, Katey.  I’m so proud of you.  The products are absolutely divine too – my special favorites are the Strawberry Lip Balm, the Coconut Lime Scrub and the Lavender Rose Lotion.  Using them you can just tell they have a beautiful healing energy.  My skin is soaking them up like a big thirsty sponge and asking for more.  They smell good enough to eat!  (and Katey says they are safe enough to eat too!).  Gotta love that.

If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right, and/or “like” me on Facebook (  It is my honor and my goal to help you through this so that you emerge from breast cancer feeling better than before, thriving!

Great Tip For Saving Your Nails From Toxic Effects of Chemotherapy

Photo courtesy of and Stuart Miles

Photo courtesy of and Stuart Miles

I have a great tip for saving your nails from the toxic effects of chemotherapy.  I have heard about this from several people who were going through chemotherapy (particularly Taxol) and they said it absolutely works and that it was introduced to them by the chemo nurses, so I decided to share it with you.

I can’t tell you how many women I know going through breast cancer have been upset about losing their nails – having them turn black and falling off is definitely stressful and it can’t feel very good either.  Not all chemo regimens cause this, but so many do and Taxol seems to be the worst.  It isn’t permanent but it can take up to 6 months to grow out a new nail and that’s a long time to be without a nail protecting your fingertips.

How to Save Your Nails While Undergoing Chemotherapy

Just before you sit down for your chemotherapy infusion, get a bowl of ice cubes and water and plunge your fingertips – so that your nails are covered – into the bowl of ice.  If it gets painful, just withdraw them for a minute or two, but try to keep your nails in the icy water for as long as you can.  Don’t do it to the point of pain or frostbite!  Just keep putting them in and taking them out when you need to.

How It Works

Icing your nails constricts the blood vessels, so less toxicity gets through. The chemicals that cause hair loss can also affect your nails and your fingernails grow much more quickly than your toenails.

Why Keeping Your Nails Is Important

Nail care is your first line of prevention, especially if you have had a few (or all) of your lymph nodes removed along with your breast cancer tumor.  You will need to be particularly careful of damage to the nail, also hangnails or cuts or burns on the hands or fingers, which could lead to infection.  Lymph nodes exist to help deal with infection and if they are not present, or present but in diminished numbers, an infection could be quite serious for you.

A Warning About Manicures & Acrylic Nails

Please also be aware about the dangers of manicures and nail polish.  See my article Are Your Manicures Increasing Your Breast Cancer Risk  for more information. 

For a lengthy time after you finish chemotherapy your immune system is compromised and you will need to avoid infections and viruses until you are fully recovered.  You can decrease the length of time you have a compromised immune system by being very proactive and juicing and taking the juice of lycium barbarum (goji or wolfberry), but here’s the thing about acrylic nails.  If bacteria gets trapped between your natural nail bed and the acrylic overlay, either during application or from splitting and chipping or other sorts of damage to the acrylic nail, you could get a very serious infection and even need to be hospitalized.

To further complicate matters, many nail salons are using a poisonous substance called MMA in their nail adhesives, which is an industrial grade adhesive and not meant for use on the human body.  MMA stands for methyl methacrylate and it is bad news for your health.  This chemical is illegal but the nail industry is hard to police so it’s still being purchased on the black market and used in some nail salons.  It can cause serious damage to your health.

Ladies, I know that acrylic nails look beautiful and it’s one of the things you CAN control after getting through breast cancer, but I don’t believe the risk is worth it.  Just my two cents worth.

I send my love to everyone taking this journey right now. If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook ( and I’ll do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond. 

Another Source For Safe Cosmetics and Body Products

Photo courtesy of and dan

Image source: / dan

I have located a great source for really beautiful, safe cosmetics and body products, so I would love to share them with you today – because I always believe in giving a shout-out to companies who are doing the right thing.  It seems that so many are doing the WRONG thing, you can barely get through your day without putting yourself at some sort of risk using some of these toxic products.

475 Toxic Chemicals?  Really?

How would you feel about discovering that, after your nice shower or bath which is supposed to cleanse you of waste, pollution and dirt, you were actually adding up to 475 toxic chemicals to your body?

I know I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating.  Since your skin is the largest organ of absorption in your body, you are absorbing what you put on it.  And that’s after just ONE shower or bath.  Take into account that you probably apply lotion, foundation, sunscreen, lipstick, eye liner, mascara, etc. throughout the day, and wash it all off at the end of the day, and then reapply various lotions and potions before going to bed.

Yesterday while I was at the grocery store I picked up a bottle of shampoo that had fifteen chemicals in it that I would not allow in the house – the worst being Sodium Lauryl Sulphate, Tetrasodium, and Propylene Glycol which are known to cause eye damage, among other things.  An eye shadow I inspected had Polythylene Terephthalate, which has been linked to cancer.  When you can READ the ingredients in lipstick (the ingredient list is so tiny), they usually include Polymenthyl metacrylate, also linked to cancer.

The problem with all of these chemicals is that they are not flushed out of the body – they build up, day after day, year after year, and compromise your health.

Throw Them In The Trash

I’m absolutely convinced that many of our body products, so beautifully packaged and slickly advertised, really just need to go into the closest trash receptacle.  If our government agencies were truly protecting us, this would have happened long ago.  So since they’re not doing their job, it’s up to us to get the word out.

By the way, if you’re not sure whether your body products or cosmetics are safe, here’s a good resource for finding out:  Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database

Here’s The Good News – A Great Source

So – I promised that I had a new source for you. They are called 100% Pure and what I love about them is that they use all natural, organic, vegan and fruit pigments in most of their products.  Their prices are very reasonable, and the products are truly lovely.  I’ve been searching for SAFE eye shadow and mascara for years and hadn’t found them at all until this company surfaced.  They are based in California.

Update: 100% Pure is now available in America, Australia, Europe, Canada and United Kingdom.

Use this link to go to the 100% Pure site in America

Use this link to go to the 100% Pure site in United Kingdom    100 Percent Pure

Use this link to go to the 100% Pure site in Europe

Use this link to go to the 100% Pure site in Australia

GET MY BEST TIPS on healthy ways to beat breast cancer and prevent recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right.  You can also “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates.  I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.  

Are Your Manicures Increasing Your Breast Cancer Risk?

Are Your Manicures Increasing Your Breast Cancer Risk

Photo courtesy of and graur codrin

Are Your Manicures Increasing Your Breast Cancer Risk?

I know this is a touchy subject – we like having beautiful nails and we like this little bit of pampering that we fit into our busy schedules.  It’s nice, it’s relaxing, it’s fun to do with your girlfriend.  But yes – it may be increasing your risk of breast cancer, I’m sorry to tell you.

I sat in on a webinar yesterday held by Breast Cancer Action titled Toxic Cosmetics – Demanding Stronger Regulation.  BCA always has great webinars with well researched and presented material.

Some Maddening Statistics

It was a great webinar, full of interesting (and maddening) statistics about our cosmetics and body products and how they are still full of toxic chemicals.  Here are some of the stats they introduced:

  • Women use an average of 12 body products per day, exposing them to 168 chemicals on a daily basis;
  • 20% of personal care products have carcinogenic ingredients;
  • 22% of personal care products have chemicals that are known endocrine disruptors;
  • 34% of personal care products are known to be toxic to the reproductive system and are especially toxic to our teenaged girls (who tend to use more of these products than adults);
  • In a recent study done with 20 teenaged girls, 16 chemicals were found in all 20 girls – these chemicals were all hormone alterers;
  • Perfume companies are allowed to keep secret what goes into their fragrances – the term “fragrance” hides blends of unknown chemicals which, when analyzed have shown, on average, to contain 14 chemicals that are known hormone disruptors, not assessed for safety;
  • 61% of lipstick brands tested contained lead (Estee Lauder had 5 of the 10 most contaminated ones) – no amount of lead in your system is safe and we’re putting this on our lips, where it can easily be ingested, day after day.

Toxic Manicures

This information was not new to me, I’ve known about the dangers contained within our personal care products for years, but what did surprise me was the information presented about nail polish.  I have been told for years by my natural therapists that we shouldn’t be using nail polish, but I didn’t know that there were up to 450 chemicals in nail polish, 80 of which have been proven to have some degree of harm to the human body.

Here’s an interesting article The Inherent Dangers of Getting One’s Nails Did .  They name the “toxic trio” of chemicals commonly found in nail polish and name the companies who were the worst offenders when the article was written in April, 2012.  They ended the article with a supposedly funny “If you recognize one of these names, stop licking your hands immediately.”  Funny.  But licking isn’t necessary.  Probably the most important thing to understand is that fingernails are absorbent and easily absorb all of those toxic chemicals we’re pouring onto them.

Most men I know don’t get the whole nail polish thing anyway, so we’re clearly not doing this for our men.  They believe that women’s nails are sexiest without anything on them. Healthy nails that are well groomed are shiny, pink, and white and look like a French manicure (without the cost and hassle of a French manicure). But hey – just my opinion.

Before you go for that next manicure, please just check out this list of some of the worst chemicals being put in nail polish:  benzene, benzoyl peroxide, dibutyl phthalate, formaldehyde, glycol ethers, methylene chloride, tolulene.

Never heard of them?  Check out the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep website and plug in a few of those chemicals. For instance, here’s what EWG has to say about benzene.  This chemical has NO BUSINESS being in anything related to our bodies.

Until the cosmetic companies clean up their act, we need to boycott their products.  Hitting them where it hurts is the ONLY thing they’ll pay attention to.  They obviously don’t care about our health.  (Uh oh, she’s on a rant again…)  Companies who promote breast cancer awareness and put pink ribbons all over everything and then continue to put these chemicals in their products that are known to be cancer causing really make me see red (no, not pink).

If this doesn’t make you mad, I don’t know what will.  Breast Cancer Action is actively working towards better regulation of the cosmetic industry (among many other advocacy issues).  They say “all of this points to one clear need: systemic change. This means putting people before profits, whether it is drug development for patients or employing the precautionary principle. This means removing the burden of prevention from the individual and placing it squarely where it belongs: on our society and regulatory systems.”

So I recommend doing 3 things:

1.  Boycott the companies who continue to pour toxic chemicals into their body products.  Here is one that does NOT.

2.  Donate to Breast Cancer Action – they are doing GREAT things for us.

3.  Try naked nails.  They’re sexier!  You can massage in some organic shea butter or almond oil and go au natural.

If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (  It is my honor to help you through this.

A Rant on Pinktober and Pinkwashing

pinktober and pinkwashingPinktober and Pinkwashing

You know, I used to love the month of October.

I loved the colors of the autumn leaves and how they crunch under your feet (well I still do, but read on), my son’s birthday falls in October, the heat of the summer is gone, Halloween costumes – it’s just generally a fun time of year.

But now October has turned into “Pinktober” and it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month – everything turns pink.  Ick.

Breast Cancer Action has coined the term pinkwashing and here’s their explanation of the word: Pinkwasher: (pink’-wah-sher) noun. A company or organization that claims to care about breast cancer by promoting a pink ribbon product, but at the same time produces, manufactures and/or sells products that are linked to the disease.

Pinkwashing seriously pisses me off.  It’s ruining the month of October for me and that’s not a nice thing.

Pinkwashing raises a big question we should all be paying attention to.  Are we really helping breast cancer research by buying all that pink merchandise?  While many of us think we’re doing a noble thing by buying pink things, pinkwashing is often just a marketing ploy to sell more products.  Of course, many of the companies that are selling pink merchandise do donate to breast cancer research, but many don’t (or if they do, it’s a tiny percentage of their actual profit).

And all of this is still not why Pinktober pisses me off so much.

The companies that really chap my hide are the ones that plaster pink ribbons on their products and make a big deal about how much they contribute to breast cancer research. HOWEVER their products are filled with toxins like parabens, TEA and DEA which have been shown to be carcinogenic.  It’s almost like companies such as Avon and Estee Lauder know that their products contain toxic ingredients and they feel guilty about being contributors to breast cancer, so they make this big deal about having products that help fund breast cancer research.

This is NOT alright with me, nor should it be with you.

Lastly, Pinktober reminds me of having breast cancer and while that was 8 years ago, I don’t need the reminder.

Top 10 Pinkwashers

I found a great website at – check out what they had to say about the top 10 pinkwashers in this blog post a year ago.  I couldn’t have said it better.

The Worst Offender

I think the biggest sin has been committed by the Susan G Komen Foundation.  Their Promise Me™ Eau De Parfum is full of ingredients which have no business being put on our bodies – things like galaxolide (it’s a hormone disrupter) and toluene (a neurotoxin banned by the International Fragrance Association), and to make matters worse, only $7.97 from each $59 bottle will go to research.  That stinks.  Seriously.

If all this makes you mad enough to take action, click HERE.

Being Proactive With Our Health Is The Key

I think that only by supporting groups such as Breast Cancer Action, being aware of what we are putting onto and in our bodies in our cosmetics, body products, and food, keeping our stress levels down, and exercising regularly will we begin to see dramatic decreases in the numbers of women being diagnosed with breast cancer.

The bottom line is do your research, make sure your purchases align with your values and be comfortable on where your dollars are being spent.


If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (  When you’re in a desperate situation, you need an ally.  You can depend on me to help you through this.


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