The Stink Factor

When you get Breast Cancer, all of a sudden you are besieged with information about how the skin care products that you’ve used all of your life are no longer safe to use.  It is all so confusing.  If you look at the lists of the super green – organic-bloggers, nothing is safe.  You should just lock yourself in a closet with Baking Soda and Coconut oil and never come out.

I’ve posted before about my needing to find a non-aluminum deodorant which resulted in the Tom’s of Maine peeling fire pits from hell.  To update you, I let the peeling go down and then switched to Crystal Essence with Chamomile and White Tea.  That didn’t result in fire pits but did start to make my skin peel again.  I ditched that one too.

The second evil I face now:  Parabens

I’m not one to hop onto a panic “don’t use this” bandwagon, but I heard enough bad stuff that I looked into it.

Parabens:  A quick overview

These little devils are in almost everything that you put on your body:  shampoos, conditioners, face soaps and lotions, body lotions, makeup, you name it.   For most people, these aren’t an issue but for BC patients that have hormone positive markers, we have to stay away.  BC treatment for hormone + includes medicine that basically shuts down estrogen receptors which the cancer feeds off of.  Parabens mimic estrogen and can be absorbed into your system through the skin.  There was a study in 2012 that took tissue from hormone+ breast cancer tissue and almost all of them contained high levels of parabens.

So, I have to stay away.

Do you know that items without parabens don’t smell good?  Some of them are unscented but some of them just smell foul.  I have wash my hands fifty times to get the excess off. blech.

This is my new vs old regime:


New: Straight, Unrefined Virgin Organic Coconut Oil.

Old:  Dove – baby powder scent

Review:  This stuff works great.  I poured some of the Coconut Oil in the jar into a tupperware that I keep in the bathroom.  You just rub in into your pits like you would a lotion on your legs.  It keeps the skin nice and soft and I’ve had no “odor” issues at all.  You do have to let it dry before you put on your clothes.  Bonus is that there is no white residue.


New:  Burt’s Bees “GUD” product line

Old:  Anything on sale

Review:  It’s just been a few days but I think it will work out.  The products are $6 a piece which is EXCELLENT .  I’ve seen other paraben free stuff that was $17 a piece.  The shampoo doesn’t lather up like you might expect but that is because there are no lathery chemicals present.  The conditioner doesn’t feel like it is conditioning but after I blow dry my hair, it’s soft.

Shower Soap:

New:  Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap in Tea-Tree

Old:  Anything that smelled good or was very moisturizing  (Dove, LUSH, etc…)

Review:  I had tried Dr. Bronner’s years ago but I bought the Almond version which smells great in the bottle but not so much on me.  It also doesn’t lather much.   I gave it a whirl again (it has 18 uses) and bought the tea tree version.  Tea Tree oil is a great, natural anti-bacterial agent and with all of the cuts and scrapes I get (thank you kitty cat!)  I need the help.  I’ve heard that regular anti-bacterial soap is too harsh so this seemed like a nice compromise.  Plus! No parabens or odd chemicals.  I’m definitely going to stick with Dr. Bronners.

Body Lotion:

New:  Burts Bees Baby Bee lotion

Old:  I had a few, Jergens, Ultra Bond, Suave  (all Parabens!)

Review:  My skin is super dry and I put it on my legs this morning.   They still feel really smooth and happy.  This is one of the products that totally smells foul.  Once it is rubbed into your skin, you can’t smell it but DO NOT get up close and personal with it when you first pump it into your hands.  So Gross.  It’s good enough that I will finish the bottle (12 oz) but I will probably switch to a different Burt’s Bees product when I run out.

Face Soap & Lotion:

New:  Dr. Bronner’s Mild-Baby bar soap, Boots Organics Witchhazel toner, Boots organics day cream, Clinique eye cream.  At night, I use coconut oil for my night cream.

Old:  Clinique 3-step system, Boots Sensitive Skin wash, toner and cream.

Review:  I love the Dr. Bronner soap – I feel like I finally get my face squeaky clean without it drying out too much.  The Witchhazel toner is something I’ve had for a while but it works great.  The day cream I’m on the fence about.  It does a pretty good job and I will finish the jar but I might go to a Burts bees product (same price).   The Clinique eye cream is chock full of parabens but I love it and it was expensive and I’m finishing the jar.  So there.   The coconut oil at night was something to get used to.  A little goes a long way and even if you just barely cover your skin it will feel oily.  Thing is, I’ve had no breakouts.  I’m seeing some positive changes in my skin.

Other things:

Cuticle cream:  LUSH’s Lemony Flutter.  It does have a mild paraben in it called Limonene but that is because of the natural lemon in it.  (Fruits have parabens. Nothing is safe!  AAAAAAH!)  This is the best stuff ever!  It works great as a cuticle cream but you can use it anywhere you have rough skin (Elbows! Knees!)

Makeup:  I started using Bareminerals a month or so ago and I love it!  I was excited to read that it isn’t on the “do not use” list.  I use the powder and not the liquid foundation they have now.  I also use the blush.   For lipstick/gloss, I use LUSH emotional brilliance in Perpective. (both Paraben and Petroleum free)  My mascara is also from LUSH and it contains parabens but they claim to use 1/2 the normal amount.  It’s the only mascara that actually works for me so I’m keeping it.   My eyeshadow is covergirl which is probably not great but I don’t have the $$ to switch over to bareminerals.

Powder: I use a non-talc product from LUSH called “Silky Underwear.”  It’s made from cornstarch and cocoa butter and it is amazing.  A little goes a long way with this as well so even though it is expensive it will last ages.

In addition to the deodorant, I did have some other misses:

1. Using Dr. Bronner Tea Tree Castile soap as a shampoo.  It is listed as one of the 18 things you can do with their magic soap and my hair is pretty resiliant so I gave it a try.  Not a good idea.   It did a good job of stripping all the build up from previous shampoos but it also stripped all the moisture from my hair.  It felt really dry and horrible.  They say you can follow up with an Apple Cider Vinegar rinse but I decided to just buy a new shampoo.

2. Using Coconut Oil as a hair conditioner.  My plan was to use the Dr. Bronners as a shampoo and Coconut Oil as the conditioner.  People have reported that this works well for them.   This did not work well for me.  I used the tiniest amount (less than a teaspoon) and rubbed it through my hair and my hair got incredibly heavy and wouldn’t do ANYTHING!  I couldn’t even get it to dry completely.  Let’s just say I only went on errands where I could use a drive through.  The next day it took me two regular shampoos to get it all out.  GROSS!

So that’s what I’ve been doing.  If you have any suggestions, put them in the comments!

Apparently Coconut Oil is the baking powder of oils and can do just about anything (google it).

I’m just never putting it in my hair again.



6 Comments on “The Stink Factor”

  1. Lori Lewis says:

    The GUD line from Burt’s Bees is GREAT! I love the Vanilla scented one (now that I think of it, that may be the only scent, which works for me, it’s my fave). I think maybe the Organix line (similarly priced to GUD) might work for you, too. I’ve been using sulfate-free shamps/conds for about a year and a half now (though not sure if sulfate free means it’s paraben free?)


  2. Just FYI Arbon makes all paraben free items. I bought a wonderful 5 in 1 body oil. Its great for your whole body and makes your skin very soft and has a nice sent. I also went through my lotions and through out any soy item, can’t forget soy mimicks estrogen also.


    • Pam says:

      Thanks for the soy reminder! I tend to stay away from soy because it messes with your thyroid, but I’ll take another look around. I’ll check out the Arbon as well. Thanks!!!


      • Its crazy the things we have to look out for! If its not one thing in the product its another. I think I may have spelled it incorrectly, Arbonne. The product is Detox spa 5-in-1 Essential. I actually bought it on ebay.


  3. Beth Dominic says:

    You referred to the “do not use” list in this post. Where can I find that list? I have recently been diagnosed and am trying to navigate through all of the information. IT is so confusing. WHere do I need to go to find what I can use and what I can’t. A credible source.


    • Pam says:

      I gleaned a “do not use” list from various sources on the internet. After 2 years, I’ve basically just stopped eating soy products, stayed away from known hormone based food/products and use a non-aluminum containing deodorant. My doctors all basically agree that most of the stuff out there is hooey. But there are some things (above) that I do. Sorry for not replying sooner. I’ve been in and out of the hospital for the last 4-5 weeks (not cancer related)


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