“You look white, you look green, you look yellow,” says makeup artist and survivor Ramy Gafni. “It was like multicolor skin. Every day was an adventure.”
In addition to radiation, chemotherapy medications like bleomycin, cyclophosphamide, docetaxel, etoposide, and others (see more here) can all affect skin tone, causing dark splotches, unevenness, dullness, even strips of light or dark color. The good news is when the treatment ends, skin usually returns to a more healthy condition. However, it doesn’t help your healing process to feel lousy in the meantime. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to pep up a lackluster complexion.
First, as you’ve probably heard before: moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. Cancer treatments dry the skin, so apply several times a day, and be sure to use organic, non-toxic, sensitive formulas like CV Skinlabs Calming Moisture-which helps give skin a healthy, radiant glow. Go for creams-they tend to be more effective and long lasting than lotions. (You can find more non-toxic options here.) Use sunscreen every day no matter what-non-chemical, mineral-based varieties that contain zinc or titanium dioxide. (Read more about sunscreens.)
As for makeup, follow this basic rule: accentuate the positive, conceal the negative. In other words, don’t just pile on heavy makeup, as that can make you look worse. Bring out your great features, like your eyes and lips, and conceal the pigmentation issues on your cheeks, nose, and forehead.
Men and women look better with a touch of bronzer. It livens up any complexion, no matter the ethnicity. Choose a medium shade, and apply where the sun would naturally hit (cheek bones, nose, chest, and a touch on the forehead). We like Afterglow Organic Glow Bronzer or Physician’s Formula Origin Bronzer. If you’re a man, or a woman who’s never worn foundation, you may prefer a tinted moisturizer, which covers and moisturizes at the same time! Good ones include Kiss My Face Branch Tinted Moisturizer and Physician’s Formula Organic Wear.
For sallow, sunken eyes, use a moisturizing concealer from lash line to brow bone. (We like RMS concealers). Use creams-powders can lodge in wrinkles and make dry skin more visible. If your skin looks dull or blotchy, try a foundation a shade lighter than you might normally use, for a fresher look. Avoid mattes and go for liquids and crèmes-they add moisture to your dehydrated skin.
According to Cancer and Careers and Styles 101, you can also try an “undercoat” or concealer in shades of green, lavender and yellow. Green counteracts redness, lavender works for sallowness or dark spots, and yellow for bruises or undereye circles. Use disposable sponges, blot, and blend, rather than piling on a heavy layer. Try Organic Wear Concealer Sticks Soft Green, Simply Pure Lavender Concealer, and Divine Nature Yellow Concealer.
Finally, go for a splash of color. Blush on the apples of the cheeks brings back a healthy glow. Try shades in pinks or peaches and avoid over applying. (Smile in the mirror and apply where the cheek forms the apple.) Just a hint is enough to make you look like you’ve come back from a long run.
Of course, if you’re able to, exercise boosts energy levels and mood, and the increased oxygen and blood circulation will make your skin look healthier. Opt for a brisk, daily walk. You’ll be surprised at all the benefits.
Whatever you do to battle skin-tone changes, don’t be afraid to experiment, as long as you’re using non-toxic products! Your skin is different, so try different colors. Change your routine. You’re sure to find something that works for you. Looking good can dramatically help how you feel about yourself, and give you that energetic edge you need to heal.
If you have helpful tips for evening out skin tone during cancer treatment, please pass them on.
Photo courtesy of Snap Village.