We tested 32 of the most popular beauty products from around the country to find out what exactly is hiding in these products. Grab a beauty product of yours, flip it around, and look at the label. Most likely you will see “fragrance” or “parfum.Read More
Grab a beauty product of yours, flip it around, and look at the label. Most likely you will see “fragrance” or “parfum.” Did you know that dozens, sometimes even hundreds, of chemicals can hide under that one little word on beauty, personal care products, and cleaning products? And that scent could lead to serious health consequences.
That’s why we at Breast Cancer Prevention Partners tested 32 of the most popular products from around the country to find out what exactly is hiding in these products.
Our new report Right to Know: Exposing Toxic Fragrance Chemicals in Beauty, Personal Care and Cleaning Products exposes the real and honest extent of this problem. And lays the groundwork to change this dirty game. Check out some of the most jaw dropping findings:
We found a total of 338 SECRET fragrance chemicals in the 25 personal care products we tested.
An overwhelming majority (three-quarters) of the chemicals linked to chronic health effects, like cancer, birth defects, respiratory harm, neurotoxicity, hormone disruption, or aquatic toxicity, detected in the products we tested are fragrance chemicals.
It may be a fam fave.
Four of the fine fragrances we tested landed on our Top 10 Hazardous Products List: JLO Glow, Marc Jacobs Daisy, Taylor Swift Wonderstruck and the classic, White Linen by Estée Lauder.
The worst of the worst.
The product with the highest number of chemicals linked to chronic health effects is a kids’ shampoo, Just for Me, marketed to African-American girls in a hair relaxer kit. We found 4 carcinogens, 19 potential hormone-disrupting compounds, and 6 chemicals linked to reproductive and developmental toxicity.
Links to breast cancer.
We found several products with chemicals linked to breast cancer, such as benzene and 1,4-dioxane, which are associated with mammary tumors in laboratory studies. We also found a number of hormone-disrupting compounds with links to breast cancer: oxybenzone, propylparaben, and phthalates (DEHP and DEP).
Many of the personal care products we tested contained more hazardous chemicals than the cleaning products we tested! How can this be? A gaping federal loophole allows this $70 billion unregulated fragrance industry to keep these harmful chemicals secret. We say, no more!
That’s why we are supporting two bills that could change the game.
The California Cosmetic Fragrance and Flavor Ingredient Right to Know Act of 2019 (SB574) would require companies that sell beauty or personal care products in California to report fragrance or flavor ingredients linked to harm to human health or the environment to the California Safe Cosmetics Program Database. SB574 would be the first law of its kind in the nation.
The brand new bill introduced by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (Democrat-IL) would ban chemicals linked to cancer and birth defects from retail and professional salon products. Unlike other bills, the Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act of 2018 is the only federal cosmetic safety legislation that would end secret ingredients by requiring full fragrance ingredient disclosure.
We all have a right to know what is hiding in the products that we use at home and work. No more secret toxic fragrance chemicals.
Let’s do this together.
Check out our sunscreen tips and summer partner products! Did you know that many sunscreens contain chemicals that can mimic estrogen in the body, disrupt the endocrine system, and play a significant role in breast cancer development? We think you shouldn’t have to choose between skin cancer and breast cancer.Read More
Check out our tips + fun in the sun products below
Did you know that many sunscreens contain chemicals that can mimic estrogen in the body, disrupt the endocrine system, and play a significant role in breast cancer development? We think you shouldn’t have to choose between skin cancer and breast cancer.
So, we put together a red list of sunscreen ingredients for you to avoid and other easy steps to minimize your exposure during this super hot summer season.
What are UV filters?
Ultraviolet filters, or UV filters, are chemicals that are able to screen out UV-A and UV-B rays from the sun.
What are the top tips to avoid exposure?
The best way to reduce exposure to UV filters is to avoid purchasing those that list chemical UV filters, such as octinoxate, octyl methoxycinnamate, benzophenone, oxybenzone, PABA and padimate O.
- Choose sunscreens that use sun-blocking compounds derived from minerals, such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, in a non-inhalable form.
- Avoid purchasing lipsticks, hair products, nail polish and other personal care products that list chemical UV filters such as octinoxate or octyl methoxycinnamate (OMC).
- When spending long periods of time in the sun, use good sun sense. Wear a wide-brimmed hat, lightweight long sleeves, and pants. Apply a mineral-based sunblock liberally and frequently.
At BCPP, our partners in prevention are businesses that support BCPP and value the health of people and the planet. The products below come from stellar companies that financially support our efforts to prevent breast cancer, so purchases you make also support BCPP! Check out the hot items we picked for your sunny summer.
Keep summer, fall, winter and spring safe with effective herbal care, like sunscreen and deodorant with cutting-edge botanical ingredients and no toxic chemicals — because what goes ON the skin goes IN.
Save 25% on your purchase with coupon code EarthMama25. Offer valid on US orders only, expires 12/31/19.
Since 1984, CRYSTAL has been creating deodorants with Mineral Salts and Sodium Bicarbonate to provide safer and reliable odor protection. Natural minerals and other botanically-derived ingredients stop odor before it starts without blocking pores, allowing the body to function naturally. You can feel confident that you are doing right by your body and the environment.
Use code SAFERSUMMER on thecrystal.com to receive $3 off your $10+ purchase from June 10 – July 31.
Juice Beauty reef safe sunscreens are formulated without chemical SPF ingredients such as oxybenzone, which have been banned in Hawaii and Florida for harming coral reefs. Feel assured that you’re safeguarding your skin and our environment with Juice Beauty’s reef-friendly mineral zinc SPFs offering broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection.
Made with certified organic ingredients, try Juice Beauty this summer for ideal protection against premature aging and hyperpigmentation due to sun damage.
BUFF® is the original multifunctional headwear brand, having premiered and innovated the tubular headwear category. Recognized by athletes and outdoor enthusiasts for its quality, craftsmanship, and customizable design and style options.
Many of BUFF® products are awarded the Seal of Recommendation by the Skin Cancer Foundation, check them out.
Meet Crunchi’s NEW CHARCOAL BODY BAR. Made with organic jojoba seed and infused with fresh citrus essential oil, Crunchi’s Charcoal Body Bar gently cleanses and exfoliates leaving your skin feeling soft and smooth. True health and beauty means caring not only about what we see in the mirror, but also the world around us.
Consciously produced and packaged, the Charcoal Body Bar is not only effective and long lasting, but by not using plastic bottles and wrappers has minimal environmental impact. Get yours today.
With blister resisting, moisture wicking, and antimicrobial technologies, Balegas are not only the running socks you need, but the socks you deserve. We proudly support BCPP and healthy futures every stride of the way.
Balega is on a mission of prevention by encouraging healthier lifestyles for women. Find your fit, you’ll fall in love.
When I was invited by BCPP to pledge support for SB574, I expected to be part of a large group where we would collectively pledge our support. Easy. I can show up and do that.Read More
Guest Post by Joanne Starkman, cofounder of Innersense Organic Beauty
When I was invited by Breast Cancer Prevention Partners (BCPP) to pledge support for the California Cosmetic Fragrance and Flavor Ingredient Right to Know Act of 2019 (SB574), I expected to be part of a large group where we would collectively pledge our support. Easy. I can show up and do that.
After arriving in California’s state capitol, I quickly discovered I would have the opportunity to share my personal story first-hand with legislative staffers. My very personal story shared publicly in ways I never imagined. Flooded with emotion, life since my daughter’s birth flashed before me and it felt like a full circle was completing itself.
At 22-months, my daughter Morgan was diagnosed with Williams Syndrome. This rare genetic and beautiful condition takes place at the time of conception where 26-28 genes are spontaneously deleted on chromosome #7 ultimately affecting one’s health and intellectual abilities.
At the time of Morgan’s diagnosis, I had questions. So many questions. Why did this happen? Was this a result of something I did or was exposed to? Could I have done something differently? I became an avid researcher and detailed label reader to leave no stone unturned.
What I discovered shocked me. I learned toxic ingredients are used in food, personal care products, manufactured goods and more. More disturbing, I found out these unhealthy ingredients were commonplace.
Our body burden was becoming flooded with known toxic ingredients. These known toxicants were already directly proven to adversely affect health and were connected to cancers, skin conditions, endocrine disorders and more. It was eye-opening to find many of these ingredients weren’t disclosed to the consumer. Plus, our ecosystems and wildlife were also being impacted as the by-products of these toxic ingredients were making their way into our waterways and environment.
As a hairstylist, I discovered my exposure to toxic chemicals in the salon placed me at a much higher risk for diseases. In fact, chemical exposure as a hairdresser or barber is classified as a ‘probable carcinogen’ by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the leading global research agency.[i]
Studies also show that my job may be linked to reproductive harm.[ii] Data across 19 studies found that women who work as hairdressers and cosmetologists had increased time to birth, increased risk of premature birth, increased risk of having a baby who was small for gestational age, increased risk of having a baby with low birth weight and increased miscarriage.
I was stunned.
And, I became motivated. Not only was it my purpose to create a safe and healthy household for my family, it was now my purpose to care for my salon professional colleagues knowing the toxic environment they worked in every day. Stylists care for their beauty guests in many ways, including their role as confidant, counselor and friend. They all deserve to work in a safe and healthy environment, plus use safe products in their hands.
My research left me with a newfound purpose to develop a salon professional haircare line using safe and healthy ingredients. Finding ingredients from Mother Nature offering salon performance was tasked to my husband in his new role as conscious chemist. Transparency became our focus—each ingredient used in formulations would be fully disclosed—as we established the highest standard for what is now known as clean beauty.
Over fourteen years later since Innersense Organic Beauty was officially founded, I am now able to share my story in a way I never dreamed of. I spoke first-hand with several California legislative staffers to share about my daughter Morgan, the importance of ingredient transparency and to officially pledge my support for SB574. I also asked staffers to encourage their legislators to co-author this bill. California has the opportunity to lead the way in ingredient transparency as this is the first bill in the country to require manufacturers to disclose toxic fragrance and flavor ingredients in products sold in California.
It’s here where I discovered my story comes full circle and where I can make a positive difference to facilitate much needed change.
And, Morgan. She is now 23 years old and brings great joy in my life! She is a teacher of love, inclusiveness and compassion. We can all use more of these characteristics in our life, which fosters positive change in our world, too.
I hope through my story the world becomes a better place. And, we have the opportunity right here in California and it starts with SB574. Thank you BCPP for giving me a voice in a way I never expected. I am grateful for the unexpected nudge!
Joanne Starkman is a BCPP supporter and cofounder of Innersense Organic Beauty.
 IARC, 2010. IARC Monographs: Some Aromatic Amines, Organic Dyes, and Related Exposures. Available from: https://monographs.iarc.fr/list-of-classifications-volumes/
 JB H, Collot F. Reproductive disorders in hairdressers and cosmetologists: a meta-analytical approach. Journal of occupational health. 2015:15-0068.
From naming a new CEO, to taking on Strength of Nature for their toxic shampoo, to a new CA Right to Know bill, and a fresh one-of-kind science video series, it’s safe to say we’ve been busy at BCPP this past quarter! Check out our bulletin below for the top news from your trusted breast cancer prevention organization.Read More
By BCPP Staff Erika Wilhelm
From naming a new CEO, to taking on Strength of Nature for their toxic shampoo, to a new CA Right to Know bill, and a fresh one-of-kind science video series, it’s safe to say we’ve been busy at BCPP this past quarter! Check out our bulletin below for the top news from your trusted breast cancer prevention organization.
SB 574: Let’s end toxic secrets in fragrance & flavors
BCPP and our partners – Black Women for Wellness and Women’s Voices for the Earth – teamed up with Senator Connie Leyva to draft and introduce the California Cosmetic Fragrance and Flavor Ingredient Right to Know Act of 2019 (SB 574). For the first time ever, manufacturers that sell beauty and personal care products in CA will be required to report hazardous fragrance or flavor ingredients to the California Safe Cosmetics Program. In addition, companies will not be allowed to claim trade secret or confidential business information protection for any of these ingredients.
BCPP is leading advocacy efforts such as educating legislators about the need for fragrance disclosure, building coalition support within the NGO and business communities, and utilizing our action network and social media channels to generate broad-based support for this bill.
It’s our supporters who give us this momentum. The past two years we’ve prioritized Right to Know advocacy and your donations and actions have helped to make these goals a reality. We did it first with our Cleaning Product Ingredients bill (SB 258) and then again with our Salon Products bill (AB 2775). Help us push SB 574 through. Donate today to support our efforts!
No more cancer-causing shampoo
Not only do we take our fight for safer products to legislators, but we also go straight to companies demanding change! Our current target? Strength of Nature.
Last year, BCPP released our report Right to Know: Exposing toxic fragrance chemicals in beauty, personal care and cleaning products, which investigated to what extent companies that make beauty, personal care, and cleaning products hide unlabeled toxic chemicals in their products. Out of the 32 household products we analyzed, the kids’ shampoo Just for Me, made by Strength of Nature, had the most toxic chemicals – including 4 carcinogens, 6 developmental toxicants, and 19 hormone disrupting compounds!
So, last month we sent a call to action to our supporters, asking them to join us in demanding Strength of Nature remove these toxic chemicals from their shampoo. Thousands within our community rallied. Shout out to those of you who already took action. But our demands are not done until Strength of Nature ditches their toxic formulation. Will you act today and share this action with a friend? Every voice helps move the needle for corporate accountability.
Going Behind the Science with renowned experts
Science is our backbone. That’s why BCPP is committed to grounding our work in the latest scientific information on the complex relationships between environmental factors and breast cancer. We’ve got a go-to crew of top-notch scientists that help make this happen. Our Science Advisory Panel (SAP), made up of over 20 experts, are always there for us to offer advice when we are exploring scientific data or planning new initiatives based on the latest evidence.
Because we rely on these experts, we thought you should too! So we launched the first episode of our Behind the Science video series which covers adult and prenatal chemical exposures. This unique online series will consist of exclusive interviews with our SAP scientists covering a variety of breast cancer and environmental health topics that matter to you. We’ll answer frequently asked questions from our community, so let us know what you’d like to ask a scientist!
Welcome Amanda Heier – Our new CEO!
On April 2nd, BCPP officially announced that Amanda Heier will serve as our new Chief Executive Officer. After carefully conducting a national search that considered many highly impressive candidates, the BCPP search committee and board unanimously selected Amanda. A passionate public health leader, Amanda has extensive non-profit experience mobilizing diverse teams, enhancing programs that optimize community impact, and implementing organizational growth. She is equipped with the talent, experience, and heart needed to lead this organization closer to our goal of stopping breast cancer before it starts.
Amanda will be only the third person to hold the position of CEO since the founding of BCPP (formerly Breast Cancer Fund) in 1992.
Amanda has previously served as Executive Director for Raphael House, the Mary Elizabeth Inn and, most recently, as CEO of the San Francisco General Hospital Foundation. Amanda’s first day at BCPP will be May 8.
P.S. Will you be free the evening of May 23rd? Join us for a female-focused exclusive LUNAFEST San Francisco film festival event at Dolby Laboratories. Tickets are going fast!
At BCPP, our partners in prevention are businesses that value the health and well-being of people and the planet. Check out these safer brands with products that are all the rave this month!Read More
At BCPP, our partners in prevention are businesses that value the health and well-being of people and the planet. Check out these safer brands with products that are all the rave this month!
The Futon Shop brings Earth Day into your home with mattresses made in San Francisco, and sourced with only natural and certified organic ingredients, bringing your family the healthiest night’s sleep.
The Futon Shop partners with BCPP to donate 1% of your purchase to fight against toxic chemicals in our environment.
Clearly Filtered provides the most advanced sustainable water filters on the planet. Their independently tested and certified water filter technology removes over 230 toxic chemicals, providing you and your family peace of mind for your drinking water.
Clearly Filtered is generously donating 50% of sales to BCPP this April, when you use this link!
A partner of BCPP for almost 20 years, Seventh Generation has been a leader in redefining clean. This Earth Month, save a tree, swap to 100% recycled bath tissue! Or find your new go-to, no-rinse botanical disinfecting wipes, spray or cleaner.
Shop Seventh Generation’s full line of non toxic cleaning products.
Grow Fragrance air + fabric fresheners are mindfully made with 100% plant-based ingredients. These toxic free home fragrance products help eliminate odors and refresh fabrics. Now available in limited edition Black Currant Rose for spring.
Grow is donating $1 to BCPP for every bottle sold in April, when you use this link!
For 12+ years Juice Beauty and BCPP have been partners in prevention. And every day is Earth Day at Juice Beauty! They’ve been championing organic farming since the brand’s very beginning in order to provide healthier ingredients and greater antioxidant protection for skin.
Try their best-selling Stem Cellular Anti-Wrinkle skincare collection powered by resveratrol-rich grape infused with fruit stem cells + Vitamin C.
Founded in Colorado, MyChelle Dermaceuticals transformed the natural beauty industry by being the first to use anti-aging peptides, plant stem cells and clinically proven dermatological ingredients that enhance the natural appearance of your skin. MyChelle formulates clean skin care that does not compromise personal health or the well-being of our environment.
Clif Bar has been a longtime supporter of BCPP. Their journey to use organic ingredients started in 2003, and they’ve been able to increase their use of organic ingredients every year, continuing their relentless quest toward using 100% organic ingredients. Together, BCPP and LUNA, the first nutrition bar aimed at women, also support women in film through LUNAFEST San Francisco.
Attend LUNAFEST —short films by, for, about women — May 23 at Dolby Laboratories.
If you’re like me, the first signs of spring are enough to make you want to throw open the windows, pull out your broom, and give those dusty corners a good sweep. But hold on there, Mary Poppins! Just a spoonful of broom sweeping and spraying toxic cleaning products can send a whole host of new and accumulated chemicals up into the air you breathe.Read More
How to clean house without toxic chemicals
By BCPP Staff Emily Reuman
It’s official—spring is here! I just returned from a desert camping trip in Anza Borrego and the desert is in full bloom. Wildflowers in white and yellow, pink cactus blooms, and even the red ocotillo blossoms peeking out. I woke up to a stream of butterflies coming up through the canyon walls, flying northward—the painted ladies. These beauties are out in full force through the desert on their trip up toward the Superbloom in Northern CA.
If you’re like me, the first signs of spring are enough to make you want to throw open the windows, pull out your broom, and give those dusty corners a good sweep. But hold on there, Mary Poppins! Just a spoonful of broom sweeping and spraying toxic cleaning products can send a whole host of new and accumulated chemicals up into the air you breathe. Think flame retardant chemicals (like PBDEs) from foam furniture like your old couch. Ew.
As much as possible, I try to avoid harsh chemicals, plastics, and disposables when I clean. I opt instead for non-toxic solutions and zero-waste options, which, in addition to being simpler and reusable, save me money. That’s winning in my book!
So before you turn the house upside down, check out my top recommendations for ways to make your home sparkle.
Step 1—Contain the grime
Vacuum with a HEPA filter
Do I have to? Broom sweeping seems easier.
I hear you. Vacuuming with a HEPA filter is by far the best way to keep dust and harmful chemicals out of the air you breathe. By safely capturing dust and particulate matter inside the vacuum bag, you help avoid stirring up the nasty.
HEPA stands for high-efficiency particulate air. A HEPA filter is a mechanical air filter that works by forcing air through a fine mesh. It traps harmful particles including pollen, pet dander, dust mites, and tobacco smoke. HEPA-equipped vacuums cut down on the dust that goes back out into the room as you vacuum. You can thank me later for that allergy sinus relief.
Step 2—Shine it up
Get yourself a reusable mop pad with a simple, homemade cleaning solution in a spray bottle.
- Skip the harmful chemicals in synthetic fragrance-laden cleaning products. Breathe easier. Reduce your cancer risk.
- Eliminate trash from wasteful disposables and plastic while you save money. Cha-ching!
- Many mop pads are machine washable, making clean-up a breeze.
I’m no chemist
Me neither. Easiest cleaning solution: 10 cups water + 1 cup white vinegar. Boom. Add lemon if you fancy.
Reusable mop pads—help me
Microfiber cloth pads work well to lift grime and can go in the wash again and again. Cheapest option? Wrap a towel, microfiber cloth, or even an old sock around a mop-shaped base and pin, clip, or stich together on the top. Heck crochet them, if you’re handy!
Step 3—Smelly things
De-odorize without masking
Baking soda neutralizes odors, eliminates dampness, and is especially tough on grime and hard-to-tackle stains. Vinegar is an easy and cheap de-odorizer as well. Just like grandma used.
What not to use
Cleaning products that either don’t list all their ingredients or include the word ‘fragrance‘ on the label. These products contain any number of unknown harmful chemicals that may increase your risk of breast cancer. Skip em.
Step 4—Still want to buy something?
I try to skip the plastic packaging whenever possible. For everything else, EWG’s healthy cleaning guide has brand and product ratings along with ingredient info. Find yourself a product.
Got more non-toxic cleaning tips?
We’d love to hear them! Share on our Facebook page, Tweet at us, or tag us on IG and include #springcleandetox
Fundraising for the T9 Mermaid Race was as easy as Ready. Set. Go!Read More
Guest Post by BCPP Development Manager Nicole Parker
Fundraising for the T9 Mermaid Race was as easy as Ready. Set. Go!
I love being outdoors, I’m training for a summer race and I’m passionate about the work Breast Cancer Prevention Partners does. So of course, the T9 Mermaid Series was a perfect fit for me. By committing to fundraise $500, my race fees were waived, and in addition, I got to spread the word about BCPP to all my friends on various social media platforms.
I was amazed to find that when I posted my story on social media, I reached my fundraising goal in just a week! More importantly, I reconnected with an old friend I hadn’t spoken to in years, who shared her recent breast cancer journey. In the past year, I’ve lost one friend to breast cancer, and learned of another going through treatment. Both are in their early 30s, and it definitely fuels me to spread the mission of BCPP.
While the emotions behind this event were difficult, the logistics for race day were easy. There were 3 days of packet pickup to accommodate everyone’s schedules, and on race morning, I was able to drive up to the start line and park (for free!). From check-in to parking, the race really treated everyone like a champ. I was greeted with a smile at every turn and walked away from the race with a branded tech t-shirt, mermaid necklace and huge finisher’s medal.
At the start line, all the participants were excited to start the race, snapping pictures and dancing to keep warm. My favorite part of this event was that it really felt like a community. There were families at the start line to cheer on those racing, and in addition to the kids’ races, there were even some running in the 10k with me. As I ran towards the finish line, the woman in front of me stopped to grab her young son and finish the race with him, together. The whole race was well-staffed and supported, from more than enough port-a-potties, to water and first aid tents. All race essentials!
As I crossed the finish line, I felt reflective on my morning and the experience. I ran the Mermaid Race to raise funds for BCPP to help continue consumer education in the safer products world, support its policy work, campaigns and other innovative programs that prevent breast cancer by eliminating our exposures to toxic chemicals and radiation linked to the disease. Moreover, I ran to remember those who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, and those we’ve lost. Looking at the participants at the event, including so many women and children, made me realize there is so much work to be done.
Run for a Cause: Mermaid Series
Check out upcoming races, learn more, and register to run! Email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
My family and I joined BCPP’s community when one of my girlfriends was under 40 and diagnosed with breast cancer. She was determined to hike for prevention, so we decided to hike with her. Read More
My family and I joined BCPP’s community when one of my girlfriends was under 40 and diagnosed with breast cancer. She was determined to hike for prevention, so we decided to hike with her.
Traci has since passed. My mother also died of breast cancer in ’78 and I’ve had aunts and other relatives who have died of breast cancer too, so I just want to continue to do what it takes to help end this disease. Supporting BCPP is the best way I know how to make sure breast cancer will one day stop hurting and impacting other families.
Breast cancer is a horrible disease that puts every single person touched by it through so much heartache and pain. This is why my family and I back BCPP, because we think nobody deserves to lose their mothers, their sisters, their aunts, their grandmothers, or their best friends to breast cancer.
La Rhonda Crosby-Johnson, Team Elevate
We need your help to accomplish our big goals to save lives and prevent breast cancer. Can you chip in?
Andrea Ravinett Martin was not a mountaineer, alpinist, or climber. She was a woman committed to doing things that people told her she couldn’t. From playing on the men’s flag football team in college to continuing to thrive when faced with two dire breast cancer diagnoses, Breast Cancer Prevention Partners’ founder challenged society’s expectations and proved to the world that anything is possible when women unite behind a challenge with dedication and perseverance.Read More
Post by BCPP Development Coordinator Sarah Meike
Andrea Ravinett Martin was not a mountaineer, alpinist, or climber. She was a woman committed to doing things that people told her she couldn’t. From playing on the men’s flag football team in college to continuing to thrive when faced with two dire breast cancer diagnoses, Breast Cancer Prevention Partners’ founder challenged society’s expectations and proved to the world that anything is possible when women unite behind a challenge with dedication and perseverance.
When Andrea Ravinett Martin was first presented with the idea of climbing a 22,841ft mountain to spread the message of breast cancer prevention, she had two strong reactions. First, the idea was absolutely crazy. At the time, the concept of accomplishing major physical feats to fundraise for a disease was unheard of and seemed like a ridiculous concept to most. Second, from that moment on, Andrea was determined to see this idea through.
Not only did she want to defeat breast cancer as a disease so future generations did not have to go through the pain and trauma of the illness, but she also wanted to shift the perspective about breast cancer patients and survivors. She wanted to prove to everyone and herself that breast cancer survivors were not women wasting away in hospital beds, but strong and resilient individuals capable of leading communities, standing up for the causes they believed in, and climbing to the greatest heights our world has to offer. Thus, Climb Against the Odds was born.
In 1995, BCPP, then Breast Cancer Fund, launched its first Climb Against the Odds event on Mt. Aconcagua in Argentina, followed by Mt. McKinley in 1998, Mt. Fuji in 2000 and Mt. Rainier in 2005. In 2006, Climb Against the Odds found its home mountain of Mt. Shasta, where the event has taken place annually for the last 13 years. Andrea’s vision to shout the message of breast cancer prevention from the mountaintops still echoes around the world today.
Climb Against the Odds is not merely a name, but a statement of the reality we all find ourselves in, facing the statistics of 1 in 8 women in the U.S. being diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. I am so grateful to Andrea Ravinett Martin and so many other women on this International Women’s Day that looked inside themselves and found strength and courage when faced with their own mortality. They are the inspiration that keeps me firmly pointed toward my own personal peaks, one step at a time.
Andrea knew that you didn’t have to be an outdoor enthusiast, Iron Man champion, or climbing expert to set your mind to something and see it through. If you would like to join this lineage of women who climb mountains for breast cancer prevention, I’d love to share more with you about the experience. Click here for more info or contact me directly at email@example.com!
Climb Against the Odds is looking for our next team of climbers!Check out our full itinerary and our learn about this adventure of a lifetime! Email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
During my adolescent years in Los Angeles, everyone I knew had natural hair. Of course, we didn’t call it that, we just called it “hair.” No matter how long or short, it had to be perfectly pressed, full of body (see you later 1970’s “grease press”) and healthy in order to be acceptable.Read More
Guest Post by BCPP supporter, Rochelle C.
During my adolescent years in Los Angeles, everyone I knew had natural hair. Of course, we didn’t call it that, we just called it “hair.” No matter how long or short, it had to be perfectly pressed, full of body (see you later 1970’s “grease press”) and healthy in order to be acceptable. There were a few girls here and there who wore their hair in “natural styles” (bantu knots, twists, or afro puffs) but they were the unique ones.
I never thought twice about the products I used on my hair or their chemical makeup. I just used whatever my mom bought from the local beauty supply and went on with my life. No worries.
One product I wouldn’t use however, was a relaxer. Oh, the “Creamy Crack” was a sin in my neighborhood. I was taught that Relaxers were harsh chemicals and they damage your hair. So you can imagine the culture shock I experienced when I went away to college in the south and everyone’s hair was relaxed. I mean EVERYONE! It was the complete opposite of what I had known. Suddenly, all of us (the California girls) became the unique ones. We wore protective styles (braids, extensions, etc.) to maintain our hair because we struggled to find stylists who could competently style our natural tresses without subjecting us to the dreaded “Creamy Crack.”
Unfortunately, after years of resisting, I gave in to the convenience and permanently straightened my hair. It was a short season. After four years of routine touch ups, I noticed that although my hair was growing longer, it was also thinning. It wouldn’t hold a curl anymore and lacked the body and fullness that I knew it was capable of, sans relaxer.
It was time for a change. Time to get rid of the chemicals and get back to my God given coils.
As I navigated my way through my transitioning journey, I realized that some of the products that were formulated for black hair contained some of the same harmful chemicals as the relaxer I was trying to get away from. Most commonly, Parabens, Mineral Oils and Petroleum, and Artificial Fragrance. That’s a ton of chemical exposure when you consider how many hair care products black women use daily. We can possibly increase our cancer risk through a product as simple as a shampoo. I mean, isn’t life hard enough? Well, now that I know better, I’m doing better. And today, I’m going to help you do better too.
It’s 2019, so by now we should have heard about the dangers of Parabens. If not, allow me. As a self-taught product formulator, one of the first things I learned was that parabens are the best preservative you can use. They’re broad spectrum and can protect against bacterial growth, mold and yeast for years. So, what’s the problem? Parabens are endocrine disruptors, which can mimic estrogen in your body and may lead to thyroid conditions, fibroid tumors and an increased risk of breast cancer. You’ll most likely find them in your shampoo, conditioner, or any water-based product, since they all need to be preserved to maintain their shelf life. If you want to avoid parabens, be sure to read the ingredients on the back of the products. You’ll find them listed as butylparabens, propylparabens, or yuckyparabens. Yeah, I made that last one up. 😊
Mineral Oils and Petroleum
Mineral Oils and Petroleum are two ingredients that I was all too familiar with as they’re the foundation of most hair grease and scalp oils made for black hair. Unfortunately, these two ingredients are cut from the same cloth: The petroleum refining process. So what the heck are they doing in our hair products? Well, mineral oil and petroleum are both emollients and are generally used to form a barrier on the hair and skin to prevent moisture loss. They’re also inexpensive. While this doesn’t sound like a bad idea, the problem with these compounds is the potential contamination risk during the refining process. Although the studies are conflicting regarding their carcinogenic properties, I still avoid these ingredients to make sure that I’m not exposing myself to any potential toxins.
True story. One day I’m in the grocery store and the cashier asks if I used a certain cloyingly sweet coconut-scented product in my hair. I laughed and asked how he knew my business. “Oh, my whole family uses that product so I can recognize that smell anywhere.” See, that right there should tell you that there’s absolutely Too. Much. Fragrance. in a product if someone can smell it from several feet away! Clearly product manufacturers don’t think so. They also don’t seem to be concerned with the fact that added fragrance ingredients can also be, you guessed it, Endocrine Disruptors! They’re also linked to cancer, birth defects, and allergies! See, I’m not sure where you are in your life, but I’m still child bearing age, and I don’t need anything disrupting my hormones and affecting my fertility. The best way to avoid the worst fragrance ingredients is to purchase products that are fragrance-free or fully disclose their fragrance ingredients (including essential oils). I know it may be tough to let go of your favorite fruity yum-yum products, but it’s just not worth it, friend.
It has been 6 years since I began my pursuit to return to my natural hair roots, and I don’t regret it one bit. My hair is the healthiest it’s been in years and it all comes down to one simple principle: “Natural hair care requires natural products.” Our bodies are designed to heal themselves, and honestly, a lot of our hair (and body) care products do not complement that process. We have come a long way in the natural hair community when it comes to producing high quality hair care products, but some of them are still heavy laden with harmful toxins. Come on, sis! Let’s toss those products and prioritize our long-term health goals over our short-term hair goals. Let me know if you need my help 😊
Rochelle C. is a supporter of BCPP and the Co-Owner of LiveFree Natural Home & Body Care (www.livefreenhbc.com), a company that specializes in formulating all natural home and body care products and teaches community classes on the dangers of harmful chemicals in everyday personal care products.