Breast cancer support, Lifestyle

Chemo face.. be gone!

This is a follow on from Your inner chic with comfort and Re-establishing your inner fashionista. Today I will be posting on how to make the most of your facial appearance and look and feel somewhat normal when having chemotherapy.   I don’t have many photographs of that time in my life because I didn’t like being in photos,  too vain I guess!

I was lucky enough to have treatment during the Summer months of 2013 which happened to be a rare and welcome sunny one!   A not often spoken about side effect of some chemotherapy drugs is that your skin becomes highly sensitive to the sun. Despite me slathering factor 30 on every day I had what one might call a healthy glow for a few weeks in the Summer. So much so that my Oncologist commented on the fact that I didn’t look like I was on chemotherapy. Needless to say that didn’t last too long as time progressed! That was the best I looked for a long time and certainly by the time my treatment was complete I definitely looked more like a cancer patient!

The above epitomises what our skin goes through when on chemotherapy. At times I felt like I had aged at least ten years and some mornings all I could do was sigh when I looked in the mirror!  I decided to stop pitying myself and checked out a lot of youtube videos on how to apply makeup when having chemotherapy.

I still use the same BB cream that I started using during chemotherapy. At the time I found that foundation was way too heavy for my skin. I wore the BB cream every day to brighten and illuminate my skin and give it a natural looking healthy glow. I wore a lighter shade than usual in order to blend with the hairless head and avoid the tidemark effect! The lighter colour was better on steroid days when both my cheeks looked sunburned!  On days when I looked pale, a small hint of blusher sorted me out.  I got so used to wearing BB cream and liked the gentle feeling on my skin that nowadays I wear it on a daily basis doing errands and the school run. I only wear foundation for a night out or a special occasion.

I always maintained a pretty good skin care regime and still do that to this day. I have found that serum is akin to a wonder drug when applied either daily or twice a day as it  gives a luminous texture to the skin. I use day and night cream and cleanse every night before bed.    Pending on your skin type a hydrating mask once or twice a week or the night before a special event helps get rid of any signs of fatigue. When on chemo the only products I could apply to my skin were hypoallergenic as my skin was very sensitive. I also used bio-oil and applied it to everything-face, scalp,scar tissue and even hands one day!

Something we don’t think about too often is that makeup can be a great source of infection. I normally am guilty of harbouring eye pencils and eyeshadow at the bottom of my make up bag for years!  Before chemotherapy commenced I splurged  and bought new foundation, mascara, eyeliner and eyebrow pencils. Wash any make up brushes that you have with mild soapy water ( If like me they may need a couple of washes!) and allow to air dry.

My eyes became very watery which was a side effect of some of the drugs, therefore mascara (when I had lashes) would not last too long. It was only when my eyelashes and eyebrows fell out did I realise how much they define a person’s face and naturally they fell out just in time for Christmas! I learned how to draw on pretty realistic looking eyebrows and used eyeliner on my top lid to give the impression of eyelashes. I still remember the first time I felt little nubs of regrowth where my eyebrows were. I was so excited. Every morning for months,as soon as I regained consciousness my hands would automatically stroke my eyebrow area and I would feel an inner glow as the first tentative hairs returned.

How I create fake eyebrows
Draw a line as with an eyebrow pencil as if your eyebrows were still there.
Get another very sharp pencil, a shade darker, and literally draw fake eyebrow hairs going in same direction.
Next use an eyebrow brush to gently smudge and blend.
Voila! fake eyebrows.

Some women decide to get their eyebrow area tattooed to give the impression of real eyebrows. If you decide to go that route, make sure the practitioner is qualified and takes good infection control measures.

How I create the illusion of eyelashes
Get a liquid or felt tip eyeliner, black or dark brown.
Draw a line with a steady hand over your top lid all the way across.
Pending on the results you may wish to apply eyeshadow also to blend the eyeliner.
If you have an unsteady hand you could use a eyeliner pencil but it may not last as long.
Sometimes I used a pencil that was the same colour as my eyes on my lower lids which helped to open up the eye.

Fake lashes could also be an option but I found it too tricky and time consuming, but with some patience and dexterity it may be worth a try for you.

Hope the above tips help you somewhat and help you feel a bit more like yourself again. Take care..

This is me one month after finishing chemo with no eyebrows or lashes and obviously no hair!

(Apologies for the poor quality picture and the mugshot. It is purely for demonstration purposes only!!)

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