Make Up

So many things change when you have cancer and for me, I've found that I've had to work a bit harder at looking "ok". I've never really been one to wear too much make up but I've been desperate not to look like a cancer patient in public (for me that's important).

Anyway, I've experimented with quite a lot of products recently and found some that have made my life SO much easier in the past few months. Despite feeling like death, I've had so many people say I look really well so I think this new make up is hiding quite a bit!

I do need to add before I go any further that I'm not being paid, sponsored or been asked to review to rate any of the following products.  These are just my new favourite "go to" products!

Eyebrows:
 

If you have time before chemo starts, it's worth thinking about having your eyebrows microbladed.  You may not have time for the top up but having eyebrows does give your face definition and is a great way to keep looking like you have hair during chemo.

I had but, as there wasn't time for a top up, they are quite faint and I like brows to be quite well defined.  So I'd seen the adverts for Wunderbrow (didn't believe them) but decided to try it.  It's honestly amazing. I wipe the excess of the brush on the inside of the container so I don't waste any and then I lightly stipple the liquid on.  I do it very lightly and if I make a mistake I wipe it off with a cotton wool bud.  By stippling the liquid on, it gives the impression of real eyebrows rather than blocked, drawn on ones. Once applied, the liquid takes about 5 minutes to fully dry (perhaps less) but once dry, only an oily make up remover will shift it. I forgot to remove the one night and as a test decided to leave them the next day too. By the end of day 2 they were still intact and looking fab! There are several shades to suit most colourways but I bought the "brunette" shade that seems to be ok with my blonde wig. If you layer it up, it can actually look quite dark.  My daughter caked in on one day and it looked incredibly dark on her (and silly)  lol

Eyelashes:
 

I was distraught when I lost my eyelashes and never thought I could cope with false ones but after a few false starts (with ones that made me look like a drag queen) I found some made by Eylure called Cheryl Cole, First Dates that look really natural.  I suspect that these won't suit everybody and it can be hit and miss because lots of them look so similar in the packet but very different when on!  I don't use the glue that comes with the lashes because I've got incredibly sensitive skin but I know people who have used the glue very successfully.  For the glue I use, please see below.

UPDATE:

Eylure have produced a range of false eyelashes for chemo patients.  They have a wider band that attaches to your lid that is supposed to help them attach.  However, the band prevents you from wearing an eyeliner and isn't very comfortable.  You don't need eyelashes when you're using falsies so if I were you I'd experiment and find the ones that fit you best and stay put.

Eyeliner:
 

I've worn eyeliner all my life but have never found one that stays put, lasts all day, is waterproof and doesn't smudge ...... until now!  Quite by chance, I stumbled upon a US company who have developed a range of cosmetics specifically designed for cancer patients.  The whole range is free of parabens, sulfates or toxins and suitable for vegans.  The downside is that the company are in the US and therefore, anything you buy is subject to import duties (approximately 20-25% of the full invoice amount).  This means that their products are very pricey but they do last a very long time and they arrive very quickly also.

The eyeliner is amazing!  It literally doesn't budge, is waterproof and stays on forever (and can only be removed with an oily make up remover).  There is a built in sharpener and also a soft smudger at the end which works very well.

Hopefully they will soon have a UK distributor which would make buying a lot less expensive.  If you're interested, you can find them here:-  https://thrivecausemetics.com/collections/eyes

UPDATE:

A great alternative to the above and has just been released in the UK is the eyeliner made by Wunderbrow.  This definitely stays put and comes in a range of colours.  The only thing I don't like about it is that it's a traditional pencil type liner so you do have to keep sharpening it.  However it's stayability is amazing and I've now switched to using this instead of the more expensive option from the US.  Here's a link to the Wunderbrow eyeliner.  https://www.wunder2.co.uk/product/super-stay-liner

False Eyelash Glue:
 

I've tried different eyelash glues and have found that I'm allergic to quite a few of them. However, from the same company that makes the eyeliner, I've also bought their eyelash glue.  One tube has lasted me over two months so whilst it's an expense, it's not too bad considering how long it lasts.  The glue is white/blue but dries to invisible in a few minutes.  I find that if you add too much, it can remain a bit sticky on the eye so I tend to apply the glue, stick the lash on and then with my finger pat the lash against the lid to remove the excess.

False Eyelash Applicator:
 

THIS IS A MUST!  I couldn't live without this! Before chemo I had never even attempted to use false eyelashes and quite by chance I bought this applicator at the same time as I bought the false eyelashes.  To be honest, I didn't think I'd use it but after struggling to attach the eyelashses (I've got really long nails and they get in the way when trying to put the false eyelashes on).  I tried the applicator and bingo!  It was fantastic and made all the difference. 

You hold the lashes between the curved section, apply the glue and place the lash on the eyelid.  When in place you simply squeeze the handle end together and it releases the clamp around the lashes, leaving the lashes on the eyelid.  It was so easy that I managed to apply my lashes first time!  One tip is that if you get any glue on the applicator, the lashes will try to stick to it and this may mean you can't place them on the eyelid correctly.  To avoid this, simply remove any glue before you pick up the lashes.  This applicator can be bought in most large chemists (I got mine in Boots) and even online and is usually around £6.

Lips:

I'm a great believer in not having to re-do make up during the day if I can help it.  I also don't like the feeling of wearing lipstick either but I've found a lip product that's a bit like a stain and doesn't feel like you're wearing anything. On me, this lipstick lasted all day, through lunch and after dinner.  Having said that my friend tried it and she had to re-do hers late afternoon.   Anyway, the one I've found is Boots No.7 Stay Perfect Lip Lacquer.  It retails generally for around £9.95 but there's a 3 for 2 offer on at the moment at Boots AND a free gift. It comes in a range of colours that are all quite natural looking although there is a bright pink.  The red isn't really red but more of a brick colour but I like them all!  You apply the colour, wait until it's dry and then add a slick of gloss over the top.  The gloss that comes with this lipstick is really nice.  It feels like it'll be heavy and sticky when you first put it on but actually within a few minutes it seems to moisturise your lips without you leaving greasy marks on everybody!  I used to use another lipstick that was supposed to stay on all day and I found it made my lips really dry and peeled off - yuck - so this is my new "go to" product!

Face - Mineral Magic Powder:

I very rarely wear foundation but I wanted something to even out my skin tone. I bought this on a whim - never thinking it would work - but it's brilliant. I literally brush this all over my face lightly and it honestly does even out skin tone. It's a fairly neutral base colour but has small bubbles of green purple, pink and yellow that help to even out areas of redness etc.  I got mine from Boots but I think it's sold in Asda as well.  Definitely worth trying and, for me, was a huge surprise!

Nails:

Unfortunately, chemotherapy can ruin nails on hands and feet and those of you who know me, will know that I've always taken pride in my nails and usually have long, manicured and polished.  However, with chemo, in the worst case scenario, nails can actually come off or sometimes they become ridged or show white patches or just become discoloured. 

However, ladies who have had treatment may tell you to wear black nail varnish throughout your treatment to try to reduce damage.  This blocks the UV to your nails which the chemo reacts to.  I wore black nail varnish (any brand but NOT gel varnish that is cured by an LED or UV light) and my nails were totally unaffected by the chemo.  However, you do need to keep it on until at least 4-6 weeks after chemo has finished as it's still in your body. 

Do not be tempted to wear a gel nail polish that's cured by LED.  LED lights emit a small amount of UV and so if you're going to try to protect your nails, it's best to just use a normal nail polish and forget any that use lights to cure them.

Eyebrows, eyeliner and false lashes!

Apologies for the graphic close up but I wanted to show you how different my eye area looks using the products mentioned above.  As you can see, I have no eyelashes to speak of (there are a few still clinging on) and I have tiny stubbly hairs on the eyebrows that I think is where the eyebrows have broken off.  They are rapidly disappearing though!

Sunscreens.

I hadn't thought of putting a section on sunscreen until somebody mentioned it but actually it makes sense because some chemotherapy drugs make you more susceptible to UV rays and protection makes sense.

I thought it was going to be easy to just say "slap on some sunscreen to make sure you're protected" but actually what I found on the internet was a TON of conflicting information.

For example, some websites say there is definite evidence that some of the chemicals in sunscreens (namely parabens, oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate) can actually increase your risk of getting skin cancer.  Other websites (and interestingly those specialising in skin cancer) have said that there is no direct link between suncreams and an increase in skin cancer.

The most sensible advice I've found is this:

  • Wear a hat
  • Wear sunglasses that offer a high level of protection
  • Avoid the sun from around 11am until 2pm each day
  • Find shade wherever you can
  • Wear a sunscreen with a UV filter and one that is at least SPF15 or more.
  • Apply sunscreen regularly (if the one day lotions).
  • Avoid "spray" lotions.  If your chosen sunscreen has any of the nasty chemicals in it, you are more at risk of inhalation with a spray.  Look for a cream instead.

Interestingly, the protection you get from SPF15 ad SPF30 is only 4% less and the same again with SPF50!  I was very surprised as I thought that SPF50 would give a much higher protection than others but it apparently doesn't.

If you are worried about using a sunscreen, please look for one that is free of all the nasty chemicals mentioned above.  I'm not going to recommend a sunscreen because I don't feel I have enough information or knowledge so I would suggest you do some research and buy what you feel comfortable with.  Titanium and zinc appear to be "safe" ingredients and often used in suncreams for those who are allergic to normal suncream so may be worth a look.

More information can be found in a link I've put on the page "links" that can be found on this website.