Makeup and Beauty Tips for Breast Cancer Patients: Staying Beautiful Inside and Out!
This is a picture of my friend, Mary Anne. She’s a breast cancer survivor and the coolest dentist I know.
We met a few years ago at UC Davis (GO AGS), where she had the annoying habit of getting good grades in organic chemistry!
It seemed like our lives were destined to follow a certain track: finish school, get great job, find kick-ass boy, etc.; so when she was diagnosed with breast cancer last year it was really shocking. It felt like it was only yesterday when we were at her house at 2:00 in the morning “studying,” aka pigging out and watching Jerry Springer.
Next thing I know we’re kickin’ it at the chemotherapy ward and making jokes about the IV she’s toting around.
Yet despite this difficult and emotional year, I’ve watched my friend handle this challenge with grace and positivity.
One of the many challenges for Mary Anne was navigating the world of makeup and beauty as a cancer patient. How do you deal with losing your eyebrows? What do you do when you feel a hot flash coming on? These are just a few makeup/beauty issues that she had to deal with.
So without further ado, here are a few great tips that she’s learned this past year on how to stay beautiful both inside and out.
And if you have a friend or a relative who has breast cancer or was recently diagnosed please forward this post to her. Let’s make someone feel hopeful today!
Makeup and Beauty Tips for Breast Cancer Patients and Survivors from the Lovely Mary Anne
Age and occupation
31 years old (My 31st birthday was very special, it happened to be my last day of radiation!)
When were you diagnosed? How did you find out?
During a routine physical exam in October 2006, my primary care physician found a lump on my left breast. Prior to that, I had no idea it existed and never had any symptoms. Nine days later, the pathology report was in. I was in total disbelief when the doctor said “malignant invasive ductal carcinoma.” All I could do was cry.
After feeling the lump for the first time, I thought to myself…”It’s so obvious; I should’ve found it earlier!” I did not do monthly breast exams and thought I was immune to cancer because I was young, strong, and heading to the top of my career. Cancer was NOT on my agenda. Little did I know, it was going to be my only agenda item for this year.
Self-breast exams are recommended every month after our menses. Palpating your breasts in the shower with soap is the perfect time to get to know your breasts. Be sure to lift your arm and check the underarm areas as well.
What are makeup/beauty tips that you’d give to a woman who has breast cancer to stay beautiful on the outside?
Here they are in order of importance! I had to figure most of this stuff on my own, so I thought I should share them all.
- Hydrate daily. Drink plenty of water and moisturize your body including your lips. I like Cetaphil and Eucerin products.
Cetaphil gentle skin cleanser, about $11 for 16 oz bottle, at your favorite drugstore
- When you feel tired, your body is telling you something…it’s saying “REST, I’m tired!”
- With clearance from your doctor, EXERCISE! If you are taking steroids to counter the side effects of chemo drugs, don’t be surprised if you find yourself a little plumper.
- Eat healthy but don’t deprive yourself of an occasional treat. Ask your doctor to speak to a nutritionist. Some hospitals offer complimentary consults. If needed, you may also want to consider speaking with a cancer psychologist as well as a social worker to assist with financial aid and participation in cancer programs.
- FLOSS! See your dentist for regular dental care. Post chemo and radiation, I now have xerostomia (dry mouth) and gum recession. Some cancer patients also experience cold/canker sores. I recommend topical fluoride treatments (like Omnii Pharmaceutical’s varnish) and regular cleanings with clearance from your medical physician. Saliva acts as a buffer against the acidic environment that causes tooth decay; so lack of saliva (dry mouth) may result in increased cavities. Speak to your dentist about Biotene (for xerostomia), Periomed (which contains stannous fluoride), Prevention Oncology Rinses (found it in Walgreens, soothing to the tissues), and Colgate’s Orabase (it contains cyanoacrylate, the same stuff in crazy glue, it’s palliative for cold sores). Chew sugar free gum with xylitol. Brush twice a day.
- Before your hair falls out, try a funky, new, bold short haircut to minimize messy floors and clogged drains. It was only two weeks into chemo that my hair started falling out in clumps. A very sweet hairdresser, Jessica, at Thirteen Salon in Walnut Creek, CA shaved my head. It was one of the most liberating things I have ever done.
Halle Berry with a short style
Alyssa Milano with cute, short hair
- Anastasia’s Eyebrow Kit. I was never one to draw in eyebrows. The kit has everything for a beginner…stencils, mascara, the perfect eyebrow brush and colors.
Anastasia Five Piece Brow Kit, $65.00, anastasia.net or Sephora
- Find pretty nail polish. Chemo drugs such as Adriamycin and Cytoxin will turn your nails black. I prefer darker colors like OPI’s Lincoln Park After Dark and Mrs. O’Leary’s BBQ.
OPI’s Lincoln Park After Dark, $7.50 at Amazon.com
- Treat yourself to a nice scarf. I found a classy large scarf at H&M for $8!
- Try NARS bronzer and blush. Apply a little bit to give yourself a healthy glow. It works!
Nars Orgasm Blush and Laguna Bronzer duo, $36 at Sephora
- Attend “Look Good, Feel Better,” a seminar held by the American Cancer Society free of charge for cancer patients. They give $200-$400 worth of brand name cosmetics to each attendee. They also give free wig and make-up tips. Call your local society for more information.
- Carry hand sanitizer wherever you go.
- When a hotflash comes on, just imagine that you’re in a sauna and think peaceful thoughts. Get a meditation CD.
What beauty tips would you give to a woman who has breast cancer to stay beautiful and positive emotionally?
- Pray. Meditate. Yoga. Walk.
- This really helps…Whenever I was feeling down, I started to count my blessings. I thought of all the things I am thankful for i.e. mom, dad, sisters, brothers, nephew, relatives, friends, advances in health care, food on the table, plumbing, clean water, chocolate.
- Remember, life is worth every minute. You can choose your thoughts. Keep a positive attitude and if there is any time to erase negativity in your life, it’s NOW. Choose to LOVE LIFE and never lose HOPE. Plus, when your kids see you love life and do good for others, they will be happier and will contribute more to this beautiful world in their lifetimes. As you go through this challenge, you will be amazed by your strength, courage, and stamina. You will also be amazed by the resilience of your body.
- Growing up, I have always believed that there are virtues that no one can ever take away from me like integrity…same goes for your HOPE, FAITH, and your ability to LOVE.
- Forgive. Forgive. Forgive. Truly Forgive.
- SMILE, it doesn’t cost you anything.
- Dance, it doesn’t cost you anything.
- It’s okay to cry. It can be very cleansing. Lean on your family and friends for support.
- Take a picture of your baldness. I wish I did.
- Do something good for yourself everyday.
- Meet other cancer patients and survivors. Make friends at the infusion center. Might as well make your 3-5 hour infusions pleasant.
Welcome to the sisterhood, sista! When you are done, you will come out with GRACE, SERENITY, and POWER! This is where true beauty is found…in your heart and soul. There are people who are fighting for you and who want you to win this battle!
What are you looking forward to most in the next year?
I’m looking forward to enjoying family, friendships, life, more rigorous workouts, learning how to cook gourmet meals, travel, and mission trips. I’m looking forward to practicing dentistry again. I love my patients. Oh and, taking a picture with the kitty on this website.
More Fab Breast Cancer Awareness Products
It’s not too early to start thinking about stocking stuffers for Christmas! One gift I plan on getting all the women in my life is In Touch Breast Self-Exam Glove, which you can purchase at Bath & Body Works for $9.00.
This reusable glove reduces friction by 50% and increases sensitivity, so your fingers can glide smoothy across the breast during your monthly breast self-exam. This kit also includes complete exam intsructions, a monthly reminder calendar, and a pretty travel satchel for your glove.
I just tried this glove during my last breast self-exam and it really does make it easier. I now keep the kit in my bathroom and just check off date on the calendar so I can keep track of my exam dates. Every woman on my Christmas list is getting one of these!
Another great stocking stuffer is tarte’s inside out lipstick in the shade Sweet Dreams, which I reviewed a few weeks ago.
October is a great month to pick up this pretty dusty-pink rose lippie, because 20% of the retail sales will go to Young Survival Coalition, youngsurvival.org. You can purchase Sweet Dreams inside-out lipstick at Sephora stores nationwide.
Ladies, please do a monthly breast self exam and encourage the women in your life to do the same!
Hugs to you and to all the breast cancer survivors fighting to stay healthy.
Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,