Entrepreneur, safe cosmetics expert , make-up artist and author Britta Aragon knows about toxin damages first hand. While most 16-year-olds were thinking about “sweet sixteen” celebrations and putting a driver’s license in their wallets, she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease. The cancerous attack on her immune system set the foundation for a profession focused on health and wellness. Nine years later, she confirmed her career decision. Cancer was a turning point in her life once again, sparking a passion for educating people on lightening their toxic load by using natural and organic products for a healthier life.
Nine years after my diagnosis and treatment my father was diagnosed with colon cancer,” Aragon shared. “It spread into his lungs and his liver and he had a secondary cancer, brain cancer, and it all came back in the bones. My father fought for eight years and throughout he had all these chemotherapies, radiation, surgeries, and medications. All that caused side effects.”
Using her experience as a make-up artist, she sought to relieve the damage from chemotherapy and medications to her father’s hair, skin and nails by using what she thought were the best available products for sensitive skin. When they burned and irritated his already fragile skin, she looked closely at the list of ingredients and was shocked. “Not only were there allergens and irritants in the product, but also it was full of carcinogens, hormone disruptors and other ingredients that had been linked to health issues,” she remembered. “First I wondered, why? Why were these ingredients in these products? Not only in the ones I was using for him, but also in the products my mother and I were using. Then there was anger. I became very protective. My father was my everything, my best friend. So I started researching and monitoring everything that came into our home. I bought natural, organic products from a health food store, but those weren’t effective on his sensitive, compromised skin. I was at a loss and there really wasn’t a lot of information out there. I was very frustrated with that.”
That experience inspired her to become an advocate for safe skincare. She founded Cinco Vidas, a company devoted to raising awareness about toxins in personal care products, food, and the environment, for one reason only—to try to reduce risk of disease and help save lives. Her work, which ranges from speaking engagements and writing to a toxin-free line of skin care products, is dedicated to her father’s legacy. Translated as “Five Lives” in Spanish, honors her father who battled his way through five reoccurrences of the cancer.
My father passed away August 7, 2007 and it was a pivotal moment in my life. I thought, I have this gift now, the gift of experience that I had with the disease, with my father and caregiving for him, alongside my mother, and all this research and all these things I found out. If I had to go through this, I’m sure many people had to go through this also.
Her first project was creating the resource she wished her parents had when she had cancer and that she had looked for when caring for her father. Her Cinco Vidas blog speaks to those suffering from the side effects of cancer treatment and from skin conditions like chronic dryness and eczema. It’s a site where people share stories of what did and didn’t work for them, and an expert resource highlighting safe, natural solutions while raising awareness of what using potentially harmful chemicals can do. The blogging led to the publication in 2011 of Aragon’s first book, When Cancer Hits.
A complete guide for those diagnosed with cancer, When Cancer Hits bridges the gap between the doctor’s office and everyday living. “The first two chapters are about all the chemicals that are around you, understanding how the skin absorbs what we put on it, really talking about what your routine is and how you look at what your chemical count is. We talk about how to lighten your toxic load by natural and organic means, by avoiding certain ingredients. We talk about emotional coping and how to detox emotionally. Then I go into each body part, suggesting some natural solutions while going through chemo and radiation. Some chapters are about nutrition and one of the chapters is about complementary therapies like reiki, massage and pet therapy. What you can do to detox the body whether you’re going through cancer treatment or not.
Several years ago, Aragon founded CV Skinlabs™, an innovative line of natural skin care products especially for those with sensitive skin, chemical sensitivities and other skin conditions. Aragon pulled together a team of leading dermatologists, toxicologists, chemists and product developers, to create a product free of any ingredient that is even minutely linked to cancer, hormone disruption or other health issues. Her team specifically researched ingredients that were proven to calm down inflammation. “Anything natural that had any kind of data or studies that had been done I wanted to know about them,” she said. “My concern was, of course, the products had to be natural and organic but I needed them to work.”
Three ingredients: turmeric, reishi mushroom and Alpha Bisabolol were chosen for their outstanding anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and anti-histamine benefits. Together they create the Tri-Rescue complex™ which is in every formula for CV Skinlabs™.
Twenty-four years in remission, Aragon is living a healthy, happy life. Passionate about what she does, she “walks the talk” in everything she does and uses; from her personal care products to what she eats. “I love how I feel,” she enthused. “It’s very important for me to manage my energy and my output because when I’m so passionate about things, I can forget about self-care and that’s what my book is all about. I have to really ground myself and center myself.
Aragon’s energy, her inner and outer beauty, and most importantly her down-to-earth outreach continues to inspire. And she gives no indication that she will be slowing down any time soon. Dedicated to healthy, non-toxic living and safe self-care her horizons include another book, global speaking engagement, awareness workshops while adding appropriate products to her skin care line. “It’s about the vision. The vision is way bigger than me. When you see what you’re doing is really helping people and creating awareness, it’s really a service, getting the word out and educating as many people as possible.”
Through it all, she never forgets the man who inspired it all. “I feel closer to my father now than I did when he was alive. I’ve grown up; I had a lot of challenges that have come up. I’ve had the opportunity to look at myself, and as I’ve grown the business, I’ve grown but instead of having someone to have conversations with, which I still do, I now have him in my heart and I feel him in my meditations. I feel him in the guidance I get. He’s been a big, big business partner! All the decisions that have been made have been very much done with my dad. I connect with whatever I feel, that inner knowing, that feeling when I don’t know where to go, I turn to him, I talk and I feel guided in some way.”
by Michelle Fouchi Esneault