Think a facial is an extravagant expense during cancer treatments? Think again! Since your skin is especially dry and fragile during chemotherapy and radiation, and your stress levels are up, a facial is just the thing to bring you some much needed moisturization and relaxation-and to help promote your healing.
“Treatments for breast cancer are so draining,” says survivor Sylvia. “I felt wonderful after my pedicure and mini-facial.” According to Nicole Martin, writing for Bella Magazine (June/July 2005), “Facials were once considered luxury only for the wealthy, but now they are considered as important as going to your dentist. They are known to help resolve current problems and prevent future ones.”
A standard facial usually consists of cleansing, exfoliation, steam, massage, and a treatment mask. (While going through cancer treatments, you’ll want to avoid exfoliation and steam.) An esthetician analyzes your skin and bases treatment on your skin type what you need that day. The process not only moisturizes skin, but aids in detoxification, stimulates blood circulation, slows the visible effects of aging, reduces acne, and brightens a dull complexion. And the relaxation benefits are nothing to be sneezed at, especially since we know that stress can contribute to delayed healing and exacerbate side effects.
If you want to schedule a facial while you’re going through treatment, go for it-just take a few precautions to safeguard your fragile skin. Follow these few tips and then sit back and enjoy some time to feel good! (Check out our organic spa directory for a location near you!)
• Find a spa that uses organic products. During cancer treatments, the last thing you need is more exposure to dangerous chemicals. Give the spa a call and ask about the products they use, and specify your desire to have only organic, safe products used on your skin.
• Tell them you have cancer. You may feel shy or self-conscious about it, but letting your esthetician know about your treatment status alerts her to the unique needs of your skin, and will help guide her in her choice of products and treatments, as well as make her aware of the kind of gentle treatment you need. The goal is to help your skin deal with the drugs and stress, so be open to get the best results.
• Avoid harsh treatments. Some facials involve treatments that are harsher on the skin, like microdermabrasion, chemical peels, extractions (for acne), and steams. While going through chemotherapy or radiation, your skin is just too fragile to handle these treatments. Choose instead the hydrating facials for dry and sensitive skin. If you do have acne, see our post on ways to deal with it, but don’t let your esthetician poke and prod your skin.
• Go for the massage. For most people, the massage is the most enjoyable part of the facial experience. You may be amazed at the amount of tension around your face, especially in the jaw area. The benefits are numerous-you may find it not only relieves stress, but opens up your sinuses, relieves headaches, and relaxes your neck and shoulders.
• Look for free benefits. Many spas offer free facials to cancer patients. Check online or call your local spas and ask. You might as well enjoy the benefits as well as the hardships of your condition! (If you live in the Chicago area, be sure to check out Faye’s Light free spa services for cancer patients.)
Did you get one or more facials during cancer treatments? What did you think of the experience?
Photo courtesy ExpertVillage.com via Flickr.com.