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How to navigate the beauty aisle as a breast cancer fighter

As a woman currently battling breast cancer for the second time, I helped co-found CureDiva to help women diagnosed seek support and realistic, empowering advice from survivors.

Give your skin that extra TLC to make you look and feel like the gorgeous woman you are!

woman with beauty cream

Photo credit: Goodluz/iStock/360/Getty Images

During breast cancer chemotherapy treatment, it’s especially common for skin, hair, and nails to become brittle, dry and sensitive, as chemo rounds halt or diminish cell turnover. This change in your skin means that your skin care routine will quickly change, so the topical treatments you stock in your medicine cabinet, your bathtub and shower will need to be examined. Knowing what to look for when purchasing skin care and beauty products will provide your skin that extra TLC to make you look and feel like the gorgeous woman you are! Here are some top tips to keep in mind when perusing the beauty and skin care aisles, or at home.

Be gentle with your movements and your moisturizers

Similar to resting and taking it easy post-surgery, make sure you’re also playing it safe with your skin. Use only lukewarm water (not hot), safe cleansers with natural ingredients, and pat (don’t rub) dry. Unless you have oily skin, wash just once a day, at night. In the morning, just splash with water or use an oil-based cleanser.

Read the label

Use only hypoallergenic products, or those that don’t have harsh ingredients such as acids, emulsifiers, preservatives, fragrances, mineral oils, silicones, dyes or amines. You want happier, more comfortable skin, so scan your products for these ingredients and restock your supplies with organic, chemical-free and sensitive items. CureDiva.com has an entire line of facial natural and organic skin care.

Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize

To prevent dryness and cracked, uncomfortable skin, be sure to moisturize immediately after washing and toweling dry. This means:

  • For your body, apply moisturizer after the bath or shower
  • For your face, apply moisturizer in the morning and at night
  • For your hands, moisturize after washing many times during the day
  • For your lips, use a hydrating lip balm throughout the day

Acne at our age?

Yes, some chemo treatments can cause acne on the face and scalp. Even if you suffered from acne before, take another look at your old acne ointments. They usually contain salicylic acid, retinol, benzoyl peroxide and other harsh ingredients that further dry and irritate skin. Try more natural solutions like Acne Clarifying Serum by Nurture my Body and a mild, natural soap.

SPF should become more than just an afterthought

Although SPF is used in the summer outdoors, it should become a priority when in treatment. Chemo skin is super sensitive, especially to sun exposure which can cause lasting damage even in the winter. Wear sunscreen whenever you go out, and protect your skin with UV-protective clothing (hats, gloves, long sleeves). With skincare and beauty products, choosing an SPF version is best.

Although it can be overwhelming to find products that are safe on skin and look and smell great, asking your doctor or a friend who has been through treatment is the best way to receive a referral. Websites such as CureDiva.com and non-profit sites like breastcancer.org provide a great amount of information for those going through treatment to get the answers they need.

Fingernail care

Some chemo drugs can cause finger and toenail damage. They become dry, cracked and may start lifting up. Apply cuticle balm and lots of hand cream. Checking out the label is relevant here. Switch to water-based nail color like CureDiva's water-based nail polish by Acquarella which is my favorite when I’m dressing up!

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