My cousin Jackie was 26 years old when she found out she had Stage 4 lung cancer. As an athlete that never smoked and lived a healthy lifestyle, you can imagine how shocking this news was for her and our family.
When it metastasized to her brain, Jackie needed daily radiation treatments which caused hyperpigmentation (darkening of the skin) and thick, coarse hair growth all over her face. When this happened, she didn’t want to see anyone and she felt weaker and sicker by the minute. She had always been so vibrant and in good spirits even when she was in pain or not feeling well. When the darkening of her skin happened, her manicurist asked if she could wax her face just to see what would happen. Doing so removed all the dark spots and the thick, coarse hair. Jackie immediately felt better and stronger, her mood and confidence shifted, and she wanted to be around people again.
That moment is what inspired me to leave my great job as a Marketing Director with a steady income, four weeks paid vacation, and all the shoes I wanted to buy to go back to school, go on unemployment, get licensed as an esthetician and become a professional makeup artist. I promised Jackie I would spend the rest of my life making a difference by empowering women who are battling cancer, and here I am ten years later feeling thankful and proud I have been able to honor my promise to her.
I love being able to travel to various hospitals teaching women undergoing treatment how to take care of their skin and do their makeup. Then after several big changes happened in my life and to the rest of the world, I began to look at my professional self in a different way.
Didn’t see this coming…
From being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease to living in a global pandemic, I started paying stricter attention to the food I was putting in my body and the products I was using in my home, and where I could continue to lower my carbon footprint and contribute to saving the planet.
I began researching the effects of the pandemic and learned how pollution drastically reduced and how the planet started to temporarily heal. I also realized that even as a professional, I knew very little about the impact personal care products have on our health and well being.
For example, in the United States, the “FDA has no authority under the FD&C Act to order a recall of a cosmetic” even though “there is a reasonable probability that the use of, or exposure to, a violative product will cause serious adverse health consequences or death.” To be fair, the FDA does “have an active role in recalls” and may “monitor the progress of a recall.” [21 CFR 7.53]
What this is saying is that a product used by an entire family, let’s say body lotion, can be tainted with something harmful like salmonella and the FDA is not required by law to recall it off the shelves.
My burning questions
How do I elevate my commitment to empowering beauty for women with cancer while also spreading awareness around safer, cleaner personal care products?
Is it possible to impact meaningful change before anyone is diagnosed with cancer, an autoimmune, fertility or any other medical issues simply by shifting not only what we put in our bodies but on our bodies as well?
I quickly realized as a Clean Beauty Expert, I could educate the public, advocate for stricter laws for the health and well-being of everyone, and provide cleaner, safer alternatives to the products we use on our bodies every single day. That I could contribute to decreasing the statistics of those affected by cancer, autoimmune diseases, infertility, hormone and endocrine disruption by increasing knowledge of what’s exactly in our personal care products and to inform people of the other choices they have available.
Ready, Set, Remote…
Working remotely has been a huge adjustment for me as I am sure for many others as well, especially having a job that is done in-person. I started to feel concerned about my income knowing I could no longer travel and be on set as a makeup artist. Then it hit me. Just because I can’t be there in person, doesn’t mean I can’t still empower women living with cancer, celebrate beauty and spread awareness around safer products.
With my Lenovo Yoga laptop, I have been able to create online content, host trainings, develop a new client-based platform and move the clean beauty conversation forward.
Making a difference together
While extremely challenging for many people, I view 2020 as one of the most impactful and potentially transformative years ever. If we can shift our context from one of devastation and destruction, if we can, as a society, shift our context from “What about me?” to “How can we make a difference together?,” I believe we’ll begin to see it as our greatest opportunity.
What are our experiences meant to teach us? What have we been doing that’s not working and how can we shift it for something that makes a difference for everyone? The world as we know it has shifted. And I firmly believe that if we shift along with it versus attempt to get back to the way it was, unknown magic and miracles will be revealed for all of us.