Through networking I recently met with a woman who was someone that was regularly very physically active, ate a great diet, and still ended up getting cancer. But thankfully, due to how healthy she was in general, she was able to tolerate stronger medication, and she has beaten cancer twice. So to say it’s not worth the effort to stay healthy is incorrect. Sometimes it also means you have a better chance of surviving an illness.

At least twice before, someone has mentioned to me a person they knew who was a marathon runner, lived a healthy lifestyle, and still got cancer. These are hard stories to hear, as they make it seem like there’s no way to prevent this illness.

HOWEVER…as this lady told me about herself, she mentioned that for several years, she was a hairstylist. She actually got to work alongside Paul Mitchell, a well-known hair product inventor, whom she mentioned died of pancreatic cancer. She said they were using natural ingredients, even referring to one picked right out of the ground, but the process of innovation can still expose one to various chemicals.

This brought me back to something I experienced. I did a long multi-week fast 2 years ago, and one night in the middle of it, I went to urinate, and my urine smelled like the salons I used to go to when I was a child all the way through college (back then I got a relaxer every 6 weeks and no one was using ‘natural’ anything). I have been to salons since then, but not as frequent, and I have significantly changed the type of products I use regularly.

That helped me to see just how persistent chemicals used in hair products can be. Avoidance is part of getting and staying better, but the ones you have been exposed to (through inhalation and placing on your hair and scalp) have the potential to remain in your system a long time until you do something to get them out. I learned about hair products being an environmental insult to our health, but having this experience showed me just how serious this was.

Environmental medicine is discussed in the coursework of Naturopathic doctors (what it is and how to cleanse the body of it), and is often a key piece unspoken about in modern medicine as a major contributor to the onset and continuation of chronic illness. NDs know that there are levels below what toxicologists consider ‘toxic’ that can cause issues, and the accumulation of several toxins at ‘low’ levels can do the same.

I told the woman that the chemicals she was exposed to while being in the hair industry may be partly why she became ill. No, not everyone who is exposed to hair product chemicals will get cancer. She may have been genetically predisposed to this particular illness showing up once triggered by certain toxins. Others may predisposed to different illnesses once triggered by toxins, such as heart disease, asthma, endometriosis, or autoimmune disease. And yes, toxins, can get passed on to offspring, threatening their health from an early age.

So what to do:

– Use as much natural, from scratch, products as possible.

– Buy an OUTSTANDING air filter. Don’t go cheap here. If this is your lifestyle, this is important. IQ Air, or another air filter of this brand’s quality is worth considering.

– Wear a mask. Do you ever notice that many employees at nail salons wear a mask, even if they are just doing your hand (so it’s not just to avoid smelly feet, which was my initial thought, haha)? This helps to keep from inhaling chemicals. Many hairstylists will probably be opposed to this because they are in conversations with their clients all day long. Still think about it. Try it out, and see if you can still have conversation. You can wear it and occasionally pull it down when you need to, just like the nail employees do. If have children who just hang out in the salon, you can instruct them to wear it. You can start with the typical masks you see the nail salon employees where, but I would consider a more heavy duty one, like those in a hardware store. If you can’t smell much chemicals, through the mask, that can be a good start.

– Open the windows.

– Be ethical. Do not encourage your clients to come more than they really need to, so that they are not inhaling more chemicals. Don’t push products that are a hazard to their health because it brings you profit, when you know there is a natural cheap item that works just as well, or close to it. Always be flexible with your business model so that you can implement changes.

– If you are making enough money to where you can take a day off, do it.

– Change careers. This option is often worth saying because I don’t think enough people consider it. Whether it be a job, a state, or another environment, if it’s a problem, know that you can always leave.

– Do a cleanse (at least one week long) once per quarter, and encourage your clients (especially the ones who come in frequently) to do the same. Also, go to a sauna regularly so you can break a VERY good sweat – 1-2 times per week is best, but just get there when you can. Toxins can come out through sweat. You can check to see if your gym has a sauna or steam room, or research online in your area.

– Show your clients how to best wear their hair in its natural state. Alterations can mean more chemicals. Instruct them using natural products from scratch, such as plant-based oils, butters, and aloe vera. And keep the product use minimal.