Breast cancer can rob a woman of her femininity. As silly as it sounds, beauty and fashion can help a woman regain her identity and her confidence. Do small things to make yourself feel and look a bit more “normal,” along with a bit of well-deserved pampering. It really does help with our confidence and general well-being. Cancer treatments can affect your complexion, hair, nails, eyelashes and eyebrows. Sometimes it’s hard to recognize the person looking back in the mirror. Muscle mass and weight loss during chemotherapy, or even the weight gain that can come after chemotherapy, chips away at your self-esteem. Read on for some ideas to help you look and feel good during breast cancer.
“If you’ve had reconstruction for breast cancer, you now have these orbs on your chest. You may not feel like the person you were, feel fraudulent even. Finding the right clothes can help you come to terms with that” -Stacy London, host of TLC’s What Not to Wear, who features a breast cancer survivor in her book, The Truth About Style.
Let’s Start With 9 Simple Tips
Tip number 1….of course….all women know that a great lipstick can always pick up one’s spirit.
Chemotherapy dries skin out, ages it and can leave it red and blotchy. A good skin regime can help fight some of the effects of radiation. Start by drinking plenty of water to help rehydrate your skin. Pamper, pamper, pamper. Use a mild soap or a creamy cleanser, and apply a rich moisturizer morning and evening. Always wear sunscreen or use products that already have a sun block. Avoid products that contain alcohol or Retin-A. To help with the red blotchy skin, try using a green concealer.
Go short and chic with your hair. Some people lose hair during chemo and some don’t, but if you do a preemptive strike the changes will be less dramatic, and less hair will be available to clog the drain. Go bold and dramatic with color. Be bold in your choices. If your hair has thinned or fallen out try something new. A wig that stands out. Maybe try blue or pink, definitely something daring.
The effects of chemotherapy on your nails can harsh. If you use a nail strengthener it can help with the effects, which can leave nails fragile or brittle. It’s important to keep the strengthener from getting close to your cuticle, and be sure not to cut your cuticles, because that could put you at risk for infection.
Keep your cuticles moisturized by soaking them and even applying natural oils like olive oil. Push the cuticle back is fine, but don’t cut them, and take every precaution during treatment to not break the skin.
If you brush blush over cheekbones and out towards the ears it will give you a vibrant, healthy look. To combat a puffy face due to weight gain from chemo, try some contouring with brownish powder. If you’ve lost weight and your face looks drawn and thin, try a light-colored concealer cream. It can help to enlarge areas.
Be aware of the natural shape of your brows. Not everyone loses their eyebrows, but they may thin out. Try filling in or create eyebrows using “feathery strokes” of color with a brush-on eyebrow color kit or a pencil. It will look more natural if you choose a shade that matches your natural hair color. Follow the natural line making the brow fuller on the inside corner, thinning as it moves out.
It’s also possible that you’ll lose some or all of your lashes. If you lose them all you can try fake lashes, or you can make thinning lashes look full, by using liquid eyeliner or an eyeliner pencil. Try applying a thin line along upper and lower lids. Apply mascara, which will restore a lush look to thinning eyelashes. Be sure to change your mascara every two to three months. Try applying first to the top and then to the underside of lashes. Brush the tip of the wand back and forth across the lower lashes. Lash volumizers are also available if necessary – apply under your mascara.
Find products that are natural paraben-free, sulphate-free and synthetic fragrance-free. Try going a bit more natural or organic. Organic means that the plant ingredients used to make the products have not been exposed to pesticides. Years of research has shown that organic ingredients do not contain residue of pesticides. Using organic products reduces exposure to some potentially hazardous compounds.
And Finally, Tip #10: Seek Expert Advice to Look and Feel Good During Breast Cancer
Experts offer complimentary group, individual and online sessions that teach beauty techniques. By helping women feeling better about themselves, LGFB helps them face their diagnoses with a greater confidence.
Looking for one of these workshops? Try their website or contact your local American Cancer Society, which should have a calendar of workshops available in the area. LGFB workshops are always free of charge.
If you just want a few quick tips, or don’t feel like going out to a workshop, LGFB has several beauty guides available online that help with anything from makeup to nail care. There have many easy to follow virtual makeovers and instructional videos available with the click of a mouse.
Don’t be shy. Everyone deserves to feel good about themselves– especially women battling breast cancer or who are going through breast reconstruction. This is the perfect resource to get some new ideas and some professional tips, and it’s the perfect time to feel a bit stronger in your own skin.