Britta Aragon has worked since 2007 to help provide expert resources and safe solutions to those going through side effects from chemotherapy, radiation, or medications, or who experience difficult skin conditions like eczema and chronic dryness.
My First Influences in Beauty
My grandma, a beautiful Mexican woman, always told me to stay out of the sun, and bought me my first eye cream at age 15—impressing on me from an early age the importance of taking care of my skin. My mom was always into fashion. Watching her use makeup to bring out her natural beauty, I wanted to look just like her. I particularly loved how she wore her eyelashes. To me, she looked like a beautiful doll.
When Cancer Hit, I Still Wanted to Look Good
At 16 years old, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease. I went through five months of chemotherapy, lost most of my hair, and suffered from super dry skin. It was a difficult time, but as I learned to use wigs and hats and nurturing skin care products, my confidence returned and I felt more like myself again.
My Dad was My Best Friend
I survived my battle with cancer, finished high school and went on to college to study nutrition. All along, my father was always there for me. He taught me to take responsibility for my own future, and to live life with integrity.
Helping People Look and Feel Their Best
After years studying health and nutrition, at age 26, I knew I wanted to get into the world of beauty. I was passionate about helping people look and feel their best. I went back to school and became a makeup artist, and I’ve been working in the beauty industry ever since alongside doctors and as a representative for many reputable skincare and makeup brands.
Fighting Cancer Again
My world turned upside down when, in 1999, my father was diagnosed with colon cancer. Chemotherapy wreaked havoc on his skin. I thought with all my knowledge I could help him, but my “most expensive, high-quality brand” products burned his skin. The ingredients were just too irritating. For the first time, I realized how devastating illness, medications, and treatments could be on the skin, and how so many personal care products contain potentially harmful chemical ingredients.
Last Precious Days
My father battled cancer for eight years. This picture was taken just four-and-a-half weeks before he passed away in August 2007. I was fortunate. I got to talk to him about the important things—especially about how to give back to the cancer community, and to all those who struggle with difficult side effects from treatments like his.
Cinco Vidas is Born
After my father was gone, I knew it was my purpose to honor his legacy. Having battled cancer in five different places in his body, five times he renewed his commitment to living. My heritage is Mexican—in Spanish, “Cinco Vidas” means “five lives.” It was the perfect fit.
What I thought were quality skin care products irritated and burned my father’s skin. I started researching ingredients and discovered so many things that were too harsh, not good for us, or even carcinogenic! I was determined and committed to make a change.
Lifestyle Brand of Products & Services
Today, Cinco Vidas helps fill the gap between the doctor’s office and everyday living. Services include a robust and informational blog; a complete guide to life after a cancer diagnosis (When Cancer Hits); instructive, life-changing teleclasses and webinars; lectures on safe self care in the New York area; and a safe, non-toxic, solution-based skincare line for compromised skin – CV Skinlabs. To learn more visit us at www.cvskinlabs.com
Supporting Causes Near and Dear to My Heart
My father taught me the importance of giving back, particularly in ways that support my life purpose. So far I have chosen a few worthy organizations: 1) the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics works hard to inform people about the potentially harmful ingredients in personal care and home care products, while striving to change legislation to be more protective 2) Brighter Days brings hope and renewed confidence to people living with cancer by helping them deal with difficult side effects on the skin, hair, and nails 3) Gilda’s Club and 4) Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE), a national organization that works to eliminate toxic chemicals that harm women’s health. Together, Cinco Vidas and WVE are raising awareness about and taking action against toxic chemicals linked to cancer. A portion of When Cancer Hits book sales goes to WVE’s work empowering women to raise their voices for the right to live in a healthy environment.
“Be the Change You Want to See in the World” ~ Ghandi
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Cinco Vidas was founded by Britta Aragon, entrepreneur, natural beauty expert, makeup artist, and author. Created to fill the gap between the doctor’s office and everyday living, the organization delivers resources, services, and products to help anyone dealing with side effects from chemotherapy, radiation treatments, or medications, or experiencing skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and extremely dry skin.
“My journey started when I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease at the age of 16,” Britta says. “I went through chemotherapy, lost most of my hair, had night sweats, got really dry skin, and suffered weight gain, but I was fortunate. I got through it. Afterwards, I realized life is a precious gift that can be taken away in the snap of a finger. It made me stronger, and I know it helped develop my free spirit and positive outlook on life. But it also shook me up a little, and took me in a new direction that I never would have expected—and that would eventually lead me to my purpose in life.”
Using her experience as a starting point, Britta focused on health, nutrition, and skin care, and then went on to become a makeup artist. Seven years after her own diagnosis, however, she would face cancer again, when her father—Javier Aragon—was diagnosed with colon cancer. “As time went by,” Britta says, “he had recurrences in his liver, lungs, bones, and brain. He went on to beat the cancer four times in eight years, and I grew more and more amazed at his strength, determination and faith.”
The treatments, however, including chemotherapy, radiation, and surgeries, wreaked havoc on Javier’s skin, hair, and nails. Britta tried to help, but she discovered that most so-called “high-quality” products were loaded with irritants, potentially harmful chemicals, and even carcinogens. Compelled to find better solutions, she researched the issue, but discovered there weren’t very many resources that targeted the dermatological side effects of cancer or other medical therapies. She also found very little information on taking care of these side effects or on finding safe personal care products.
On August 7, 2007, after the cancer returned for a fifth time, Britta’s father passed away. “My father touched so many people with his enduring spirit and positive attitude that he forever changed many lives,” she says, “most assuredly, my own. I remember while he was going through treatment, I would talk with him, sharing this experience we had in common. We felt grateful to our cancer community for all they had done to help us. We wanted to give back.”
After he was gone, Britta knew her purpose was to honor her father’s legacy: “I wanted to create a deeper meaning from his experience, and help other people going through side effects from treatments and medications, or struggling with difficult skin conditions. Since I couldn’t find solutions that were non-toxic and safe, I wanted to make those solutions myself.” Filled with motivation and purpose, Britta started Cinco Vidas.
Cinco Vidas means “five lives” in Spanish. Britta’s heritage is Mexican, and since her father experienced cancer in five different areas of his body, the name had a meaningful ring. The number five is also the number for harmony and balance, signifies perfection in the Mayan culture, and numbers the elements in traditional Chinese medicine. “These connections reflect all that my father is and what his journey meant to me,” Britta says. “Cinco Vidas exists in his honor.”
Cinco Vidas’ services include:
- the Cinco Vidas blog, a robust, informational resource;
- Britta’s book, When Cancer Hits: Your Complete Guide to Taking Care of YOU Through Treatment;
- teleclasses and webinars on topics like safe self care during cancer, moving on after treatments are over, and reducing your toxic load;
- CV Skinlabs: a personal care product line that consists of nurturing skin care products made specifically for those with compromised and or sensitive skin who want safe, non-toxic solutions.
“My father’s experience forever changed my life,” Britta says. “I’m now committed to creating a higher standard of self care for people facing challenges that affect their skin, hair, and nails, for these very personal challenges reach deep into the psyche, where they can erode confidence, identity, and spirit. In the end, we must learn to take better care of ourselves. Only then can we hope to give our best to everyone else in our lives.”