“I’m Outraged I Was Given Toxic Cosmetics”

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Katy Skahill

Katy Skahill

By Katy Skahill, Breast Cancer Action member

In December 2014, I was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and had a bilateral mastectomy that same month.

During my chemotherapy treatment afterward, I saw posters at my hospital advertising the American Cancer Society’s Look Good, Feel Better® program.

During the Look Good, Feel Better class I attended, patients in cancer treatment who had lost their hair, eyebrows, eyelashes, etc., learned how to wear wigs, tie scarves, and apply makeup. We were also each given a bag of cosmetics products.

Quite by accident, while researching a safe sunscreen to wear during chemo, I discovered that the bulk of the products I’d been given at the Look Good, Feel Better class contained chemicals linked to cancer, and some even included chemicals that would interrupt the effectiveness of Tamoxifen—an oral cancer drug I take today and will take for years.

TakeAction 2015

I threw the majority of the products in the trash and cried for hours. That was one of the most painful moments I have experienced since my breast cancer diagnosis.

I was appalled that I would be invited in as a friend, told that I was cared about, and then given a bag full of potentially harmful products. I did some research to find out how such an unethical practice could be taking place. This led me to Breast Cancer Action’s Think Before You Pink® campaign. I learned I am not the only one who feels this way.

Now, I’m taking a stand by telling the American Cancer Society and the Personal Care Products Council to clean up their act.

These industry giants claim to care about women like me. Join me in telling them that if they truly care, they must STOP their hypocritical pinkwashing NOW and refuse to allow companies to participate in the Look Good, Feel Better program if their products put our health at risk.


  1. Elizabeth Hendrix
    Posted October 21, 2015 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    In the name of “looking good” and smelling good we are being poisoned. It adds insult to injury to distribute toxic chemicals to those already suffering. We need to change our attitudes in this society and we must begin by protecting those already ill. Please be transparent with the ingredients in our “beauty” products. Helping us as survivors feel better about ourselves during treatment is admirable but not at such risk.

  2. Terri
    Posted October 22, 2015 at 6:01 am | Permalink

    Is there, and if so can you recommend cosmetics that would be safe to use??

  3. Marlene Stieber
    Posted October 25, 2015 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    every skin or hair care Product purchased from a well known TV station had chemicals in them. the only one that I liked was 100 per cent pure, and it is no longer available, replaced with higher priced products that women are drawn to. we are the reason these products are so popular.

  4. Ashley
    Posted October 28, 2015 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Terri, there is a book I highly recommend that can be a powerful tool in your arsenal of protecting yourself from terrible cosmetics. It’s called No More Dirty Looks by Siobhan O’Connor and Alexandra Spunt. She explains what’s often in each of our beauty products and offers safe(r) options. When I learned how little our cosmetics are regulated and what they are allowed to put in them I was blown away. It’s disturbing but the more you know, the more you can protect yourself and your loved ones. There is also and app (Skin Deep) that allows you to enter the name of a product and it will give you the safety rating. Good luck!

  5. Julia
    Posted October 29, 2015 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t know this. During one of my infusions a representative from ACS was visiting the center and asked if she could take my picture for the “Look Good, Feel Better” campaign. I was flattered because I didn’t feel good or pretty so I agreed but my husband (an attorney) insisted on an addendum to the release form stating that I would be sent copies of my image and all accompanying text prior to publication. I never attended a workshop or received any products and my image was never used. I’m really glad someone was there with the presence of mind to add that because it sickens me to think that the ACS could be using my image to promote a program I had nothing to do with that isn’t simply unhelpful but can actually interfere with breast cancer treatment.

  6. Katrina
    Posted October 5, 2016 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    Hi Terri, I read your comment and although this is from a year ago I thought I would still respond. You might be interested in checking out the company I work for, Beautycounter. They are completely transparent with their ingredient list and have a commitment like none other to safety. They have created their “Never list” that includes these ingredients that will NEVER be in their products. They are safe but also work very well! I would be happy to help you find some things that might be what you are looking for. Feel free to email me through my site & take a look at Beautycounter’s mission and products…. http://www.beautycounter.com/katrinadunn

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