{Beauty} A Cancer-Survivor Comes “Clean” About her Beauty Products

A year ago, FOF Tracey Brown was willing to put just about anything on her skin. As the founder of the popular beauty blog Blinging Beauty, and a former Sephora executive, she received mountains of sample products. Creamy foundations, luxe lipsticks, smoothing peels and hydrating lotions–Tracey tested every one. She admits to especially loving super-powered cosmeceuticals: “If something burned me to death or turned my skin red–that was my thing,” she says. “I liked to feel it working.”

Then, in 2010, she was diagnosed with cancer.

Specifically, chronic lymphocytic leukemia–the very blood disease that had killed her mother at 67 and her grandmother at 98.

Suddenly, she saw beauty products differently. “Having cancer made me want to use less chemicals on my skin. Period.” she explains. “Your skin is your largest organ, and what you put on it is absorbed into your bloodstream. It also made me think about my own daughters and what they use.”

According to a report from The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a nonprofit that lobbies to keep dangerous chemicals out of consumer products, “more than 1 in 5 personal care products contain chemicals linked to cancer and 56 percent contain penetration enhancers that help deliver ingredients deeper into the skin.” While the chemicals in any one product are unlikely to cause cancer in an individual, there’s simply no definitive research on the cumulative effects of being exposed to multiple products every day.

For Tracey, finding products that were safe, but also effective, became a priority. “When it comes to skincare, I’ve gone 100% to clean products,” she says. “There’s no easy way to know what’s safe. A product labeled ‘natural’ can have some pretty scary ingredients. I look at the labels, at all the ingredients (not just the active ones), and compare them to the list of chemicals that we know are dangerous.”

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics recommends checking against this list of the 12 most harmful chemicals found in cosmetics, which includes pthalates, parabens, fragrance, petroleum and sulfates.

The good news: “The new generation of ‘clean’ products, as I call them, is amazing,” says Tracey. “I use them now because I actually prefer them to the products I used to use.”

Check out Tracey’s favorite products, below, and tell us in the comments, is there any ingredient you avoid when buying cosmetics or skincare products?


Tracey Brown and her staff try out all sorts of products for her fab blog, Blinging Beauty. (But she uses the products above “day in and day out” she says.)