Breast cancer survivor turns beauty guru

RALEIGH (WTVD) --

All month long ABC11 has supported breast cancer awareness by bringing you stories highlighting the importance of early detection, alternatives for women who can't afford screenings, and the triumphs of local survivors.

Blaire Kessler of Raleigh is one of those survivors. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005, shortly after having her daughter, Dylan. Although she's been cancer free for almost ten years now, she recalls how the early days of chemo took their toll on her.

"I had a horrible time with my hair and my skin through the treatment," Blaire lamented. "I didn't lose all my hair, I lost portions of it, I had bald spots in the back."

In an attempt to fix some of the effects of the chemo, she started looking for beauty products to help with her breaking hair and dry skin especially. But, she says she also wanted to avoid using any products with chemicals and carcinogens in them. However, as she looked at the backs of her lotions and creams she ended up throwing them away for fear of putting anything on her body that could even have a remote chance of causing the cancer to come back. In the end, she decided to try making her own products at home.

"I ended up doing research on ancient cultures, what they used to do and what they still do for pretty hair and skin. I made lists of certain ingredients that certain cultures used, and all of them used the same ingredients for the same issues," Blaire explained .

And, after much trial and error, Blaire whipped up a hair serum and facial cream that worked for her.

"They were really working. I mean, my husband who didn't know I was concocting all these things... he noticed my hair was looking good, and I said, 'Well, let me tell you what I've been doing...'" said Blaire.

From there Blaire's husband urged her to start making these products for other women who might be going through cancer treatment, and for anyone who wanted all-natural products. And with that, her company Pristine Beauty was born. She admits it was a process of fine-tuning that spanned several years.. but now you can find her line in Whole Foods, in boutiques across the country, and on popular shopping sites such as Amazon.

Blaire says the prices are a bit higher than some commercial brands because they're packed with natural ingredients such as Yucca root in the face cream and sage and probiotics in the deodorant. But, whereas you would spend $22 on the deodorant, Blaire claims that product alone could last you up to a year.

It's a business that has really taken off since she officially launched it in 2009, and it's one Blaire is proud of. Not only because she's passionate about steering clear from any potentially harmful ingredients in beauty products, but because she feels she's taken a scary time in her life and turned it into an opportunity to help other women feel better about themselves. In addition to making a variety of beauty products, Pristine Beauty also donates a portion of all sales to The Young Survival Coalition, which helps those battling breast cancer.

Click here for more on Blaire's products.