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Chemotherapy And Radiation: Which Cosmetic Products Should I Buy And Avoid During Treatment?

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Isabel Calleros shares which cosmetic products you should purchase and those you should avoid while undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

Isabel Calleros:
All right ladies, now that we know how to maintain the health of our skin and the integrity of our skin through home care let’s talk about what we shouldn’t be doing because we are doing it because we don’t know we are not supposed to be doing it.

So let’s talk about some of the questions that come up all the time to me about what I should not want to do.

First of all let’s look at the products that we are using. So you can go to your cupboard to go to that junk drawer in the bathroom and pull out all your products.

Anything that contains alcohol, throw it away. Anything that contains glycolic acid, get rid of it.

Anything that contains a vitamin A or a C as an active ingredient, give to your oldest girlfriend. She is going to need it more than you at this point, okay?

These are things that are going to break down your skin more. They are great when we are done with our chemotherapy and our skin is well established, but it is not good during it.

These ingredients, these type of products will create extra sensitivity, over exfoliation which leads into excessive dryness, okay?

Excessive dryness will then cause more wrinkles and more wrinkles will cause a frown on your face. So we want to stay away from those ingredients.

When we talk about home care and products to use on our skin we are also talking about not just products for daily use but we are also talking makeup.

We are also talking about skin block. We are also talking about cleansers.

So let’s start with the makeup. With your makeup, make sure that you are using a full coverage of makeup base that has an SPF, most of them I think at this point the, usually the highest is about between an 8 and a 12 SPF, okay?

Speaking of SPFs keep in mind that, I had a patient tell me this once and I thought it was kind of cute because they really didn’t know, so I am going to let you know before you ask your aesthetician and you don’t kind of look like you are not, you don’t know what you are talking about.

You don’t take the SPF of the 8 in your foundation and the SPF of the 12 in your moisturizer and add those together and say I’ve got 20 so I only need a sunblock with 10. No.

Each one is individual. Sunblocks, you want to use a sunblock and not a sunscreen. There is a big difference and the difference is that you look at your front door in your house and you leave the front door open but you have the screen door closed, you still have white filtering in into your house, okay? That’s a sunscreen.

When you look at a sunblock you’ve closed the front door. No light is coming in and at the stage that you are in in your cancer treatment you need a sunblock, okay?

Your SPF or sun protection factor recommended by the American Dermatology Association and the American Cancer Society is an SPF of at least between 20 and 30.

After 30 the FDA says that all you are adding is more chemicals to your body. So keep it between a 20 and a 30 when you are outdoors.

If you work inside and you are on a computer keep in mind that the UV lights that are above you, that the light from your computer is still going on to the skin.

Without using the sunblock you are going to create darker pigmentation on the skin quicker than if you are not using a sunblock.

You are going to get some pigmentation with your radiation more than likely. So let’s not help it develop. Keep that sunblock on.

Another thing you want to look at is, do I need a toner during this time, okay? If you can find a great toner that does not have alcohol then you are right on the track.

The best thing to use would be witch hazel, your good old-fashioned witch hazel. Find it in your grocery store. Find it in your drug store, any of your retail stores will carry witch hazel.

It’s the cheapest thing on the counter. It works great as a toner. Use those 100 percent cotton rounds and it will remove all of the residue of makeup and what have you on the skin.

If you are acne-prone going through chemotherapy or radiation, you are going to be happy because you are going to have less oil.

So you are not going to be needing all of those harsh chemical products with your salicylic, your different ingredients and I don’t want to mention name of products but different ingredients that help to dry up the skin.

Put those away for a while. Give them to your 15-year-old child but you don’t need them at this point, okay?

Again, the key is hydration and exfoliation naturally, all right? Let’s look at your moisturizers. Your moisturizers, you want to make sure that you are using moisturizers that contain collagen, some that contain hyaluronic acid, just look on the back of the label or ask your skincare professional.

Even if you go to the drugstore or to the departmental store you can ask the counter girl just tell her, I am going through chemotherapy or radiation, I need a great moisturizer.

My recommendation especially to people during this time is buy a night moisturizer and use it during the day.

Night moisturizers are a little bit heavier in weight and it will absorb quickly into your skin and you are not going to have that dry type feeling after a couple of hours in the day. People I tell to use that, they just love it; patients love it.

If all else fails and for whatever reason you don’t want to go out and purchase these things go to your drugstore and buy one of two things – you can either buy Eucerin cream or you can buy Aquaphor.

I will recommend that your Aquaphor be used only at night. It’s a heavier Vaseline-type cream.

We use it in the plastic surgeon’s office all the time after dermabrasions, facelifts, heavy chemical peels.

It’s a great natural lubricant. It has less ingredients in it so they are not going to counteract any of your treatments.

Eucerin cream can be used during the day. Again, it’s used by hospitals all the time, used by plastic surgeons. So if you are one of those women that aren’t big into name brands those are two great things to use for your hydration of your skin.

Keep in mind you are going to be doing your home facials twice a week, you are going to be using great natural products to do that and you can add your Eucerin and your Aquaphor into that for maintaining the wellness of your skin.

If you are interested and like to learn about home facials or you at least want to give it a try at least once look for the clip that we have created especially for you to walk you through step-by-step on how to do your own home facial.

I am sure you are going to enjoy it and by the end of it you will probably want to do it twice or three times a week.

About Isabel Calleros:
Isabel Calleros has dedicated over 30 years to education in aesthetics and permanent makeup for both cosmetic and breast repigmentation for breast cancer recovery. As a voice for the breast cancer survivor, Mrs. Calleros wants to provide each and every woman the opportunity to know and understand their choices as they regain their femininity, womanhood and self beauty.

Isabel is a facilitator for the Look Good…Feel Better program through the American Cancer Society. She has volunteered her time at the Arizona Cancer Center in Tucson, Arizona, through the Women’s Cancer Support Group, along with participating on in the 2009 Breast Cancer Wellness Cruise for breast cancer survivors.

Add a Comment2 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

my friend has finished her chemo, but her skin is very dry. Is there anything natural I can maybe make for her? I am just experimenting with making lotions and soaps. She is also post-menopause.
thank you

March 5, 2012 - 12:16pm
EmpowHER Guest

Can you have a facial while on chemo?

July 15, 2010 - 4:45pm
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