As a cancer patient, the physical challenges you may face on your journey, in addition to treatment side effects, include changes to your appearance. Your appearance and how you view yourself is deeply personal, and when you’re not happy with how you look, it can negatively impact other areas of your life.
At City of Hope, we seek to alleviate some of this appearance anxiety with a little help from some very special angels. Our cancer patients are treated to complimentary makeup application, hydrating mini facial treatments, aromatherapy and hand massages from the Lipstick Angels, a nonprofit organization that brings skin care and beauty services to patients currently in cancer treatment. The Lipstick Angels, all skilled beauty professionals, meet patients where they are, whether it’s in a hospital bed or chemotherapy chair.
Luckily, you don’t have to be a City of Hope patient to benefit from the expertise of the Lipstick Angels. We spoke to Amy Holiber, West Coast Program Manager for the organization, to learn some of her favorite skin care tips for the brave cancer fighters out there, and those who just want better skin.
Cleanse your skin properly
If you’re using the same soap on your face and body, it’s time to change it up. Body soaps and washes can be harsher on the skin, resulting in the loss of moisture. Instead, invest in a gentle cleanser to use on your face and neck.
“The number one complaint I hear from patients is that their skin is dry—just parched. I hear that from 99% of patients. There are many natural, organic face washes available and we are so fortunate to have an incredible retail partner, Credo Beauty, who is committed to offering clean beauty products that are also highly effective. They stock our kits with some exceptional products. I always direct patients to the Credo website when they ask me about where to purchase natural skin, chemical-free care products and makeup.”
Moisturize, moisturize, moisturizeBecause cancer treatments can dry out your skin, it’s important to use a good moisturizer after cleansing. Brands such as Tata Harper and Kypris are just two examples of chemical free lines that make wonderful face oils, serums and moisturizers for dehydrated skin. Again, the Credo site has a wide variety and many price points to choose from.
“Even if you don't want to put anything on, put on some moisturizer,” Amy recommended. “If your skin is still super dry, use a moisturizing mask three times a week. Coconut oil works as a hydrating mask you can wear overnight.”
Sun protection is key
Every time you venture outside, even if it’s cloudy, you should be wearing sunscreen. Not only will using a SPF regularly and reapplying it throughout the day help protect against skin cancer, it will also help defend against wrinkles, hyperpigmentation and other signs of aging.
“Everyone needs a good sunscreen. Suntegrity makes great mineral sunscreens that are all natural,” Amy said. “Their sunscreens offer broad spectrum protection and are UV chemical-free, which is good for everyone, and especially people going through cancer treatment.
Create your own skin care rituals
Skin care shouldn’t feel like a chore. Once you find products you love, make your nightly skin routine a relaxing ritual to help you come down from your day. If you have aroma therapy oils, use them. H. Gillerman Oils are used during the Lipstick Angels services. Take your time and really work your products into your face to get the best possible results.
“You can easily do your own little mini-facial just by massaging a good moisturizer into your face,” Amy said. “Just a little massage allows the blood to circulate, and is relaxing at the same time.”
Self-care is crucial, especially for cancer patients who are already feeling emotionally, physically and mentally taxed. Natural products that won’t irritate your skin, expose you to harmful chemicals or break the bank are widely available, and it’s worth it to seek these items out. By doing something as simple as caring for your skin, you can start to feel like yourself again.