Cancer. It’s perhaps the most dreaded diagnosis—and one that conjures many fears, including conflicting emotions of what affects radiation and chemotherapy will have on appearance.
Yet survivors like Olympic figure skating gold medalist Peggy Fleming say that embracing and nurturing the physical self proved to be a powerful tool during treatment.
“I had to do press interviews after I was diagnosed and that pushed me to get dressed, do my makeup and hair like usual,” Fleming tells YouBeauty. “Looking in the mirror and seeing me—the ‘normal’ me—helped my sense of morale tremendously. It made me feel stronger.”
Here, brave survivors share their outer beauty tips that made the most profound impact on the journey to recovery.
Moisturize and Mind Your Skincare
Dry skin will likely be the first thing you experience, notes Blaire Kessler, who founded the all-natural Pristine Beauty line while battling breast cancer at the age of 31 after she found her skin wasn’t able to tolerate most skincare products.
To keep skin well-hydrated, opt for gentle humectants like glycerin and calming essential oils, and keep a stick of shea butter handy for lips and stubbornly dry areas. Fleming experienced “itchy, almost sunburned skin” during radiation, which her husband—a retired dermatologist—encouraged her to treat with hydrocortisone cream, as well as Mederma lotion on surgery scars. And don’t forget your scalp. Coconut and argan oils are not only holistic, nourishing ingredients that have been relied on for centuries, but they also provide therapeutic aromatherapy benefits.
Beware of irritation from popular chemicals found in skincare products, even if you’ve never had sensitivity issues before. Your best strategy? Avoid filler ingredients like parabens, phthalates, sulfates, dyes and fragrances. Luckily, today’s ‘green beauty’ wave makes that easier to do than ever, with brands like Pristine Beauty, Dr. Hauschka, Weleda and The Body Shop offering a variety of natural options.
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