Cancer treatments can dry your skin, and your lips are no exception. The mouth is a very sensitive part of the body, and becomes even more so during chemotherapy or radiation treatments. Dryness can lead to chapping and even cracks in the lips, so it’s important to keep them lubricated.
The London Health Science Centre advises, “Use a store-bought lip balm or water-based lubricant. Avoid products with menthol or petroleum jelly (e.g., Vaseline®).”
Remember to avoid balms made with synthetic chemicals like parabens and phthalates. Instead, try natural and organic brands that can be purchased at your local healthfood store or wholefoods market. Purchase lip balms that come in tubes instead of jars or pots. (Containers that require you to repeatedly dip your fingers into them become easy breeding grounds for bacteria.) We recommend CV Skinlabs Restorative Skin Balm, which was named the “best all-around healer 2013” by Healing Lifestyles & Spa’s (HLS’s) Earth Day Beauty Awards.
We women can’t leave the house without lipstick, but what about during treatment? Is it okay? Cancer and Careers says that lipstick can help keep lips moisturized while preventing chapping and flaking. “Choose creamy, moisturizing lipsticks as opposed to matte long-lasting formulas, which can accentuate and even exacerbate dryness.” Be sure to use a lead-free formula. (Click here and go to page 10 for a list of safe lipstick brands with non-detectable levels of lead.) If your lips are cracked or in poor condition, Harley Haynes, M.D., a dermatologist with Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, recommends abstaining from lipstick until the lips are healed.
As for lip liner, Cancer and Careers recommend it, as it can prevent bleeding, which is more likely to happen with creamy lipsticks, and when the surrounding skin is dry. Check out Buy Organic for a fun selection of organic lipsticks and liners. Taking the time to do your make-up will make you feel better, so don’t forget the power of a fun shade of lipstick with matching liner.
We’ve discussed in other posts how important it is to protect your skin from the sun during treatment. Your lips are no exception. Sun exposure can further damage the thin skin on the lips, so be sure to be extra cautious during treatment. Wear hats, stay out of direct sunlight, and use chemical-free sunscreens. “Don’t forget that your lips need sun protection too,” Cancer and Careers warns. “Choose products with an SPF of 15 or higher.” Vashon Organics has a chemical-free lip balm with mineral-sunscreen.
With a little effort, you can keep your lips moist and healthy during your treatment. Julia Rowland, Ph.D, director of psycho-oncology research, Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, D.C., says, “Looking good despite what we may be going through can help one take control again, and can be a critical component to the healing process by providing powerful psychological benefits.”
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