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Put Your Best Face Forward

Beauty Tips for Women with Cancer

by Hans Kalset

Wellness image

As a cosmetologist and hair stylist, I work with wonderful clients every day. While I love the relationships I’ve built with my clients in my job “behind the chair,” my most fulfilling work is as a volunteer with Look Good…Feel Better. This organization provides women with free sessions to teach them hair and makeup techniques to cope with the changes they experience to their appearance while undergoing cancer treatment.

I’m honored to play a small role in helping women face their cancer treatment with greater confidence and dignity. And I want to share with you some of the best tips from our workshops.

Makeup Tips & Tricks

  • It’s common to develop sensitive skin during chemotherapy and radiation. To reduce dry, flaky skin, wash your face with a creamy cleanser. Then dot a light moisturizer on your forehead, cheeks, chin, and nose, and gently blend. Also, be sure to always use sunscreen with an SPF 15 or higher.
  • Cancer treatment can change your skin tone. Women often think foundation is the first step to a makeup routine, but for a woman with cancer, it is crucial to apply a concealer underneath your foundation to cover spots or discolorations.

Cancer treatment can increase vulnerability to infection, so keep hygiene a high priority. Use clean cotton balls, swabs, or disposable sponge-tip applicators for dispensing makeup.

Author of Article photo

Hans Kalset

  • One of the hardest things for women going through cancer treatment to cope with is losing their hair – and this includes eyebrows and eyelashes. When eyebrows become thin or fall out during treatment, choose an eyebrow pencil shade in your current hair or wig color (or just slightly darker) and use short, feathery, upward strokes to simulate the look of hair.
  • When using blush, use a powder blush in a shade that complements your skin tone. A beauty professional or cosmetologist can also help you select contour shades to offset facial puffiness or gauntness.
  • Cancer treatment can increase vulnerability to infection, so keep hygiene a high priority. Always wash your hands before using products. Use clean cotton balls, swabs, or disposable sponge-tip applicators, not your hands, for dispensing makeup.

Help for Hair Loss

  • Don’t be afraid of wigs. Wigs have come a long way! Just like you would for other big purchases, when choosing a wig, make sure you do your homework. It’s also good to bring a friend in for backup and support. Believe it or not, you can actually make wig shopping fun.
  • Once you have your wig, it’s important to get the perfect fit. Take it to your stylist or a trained Look Good…Feel Better volunteer for help with the fit.
  • Don’t be afraid to mix it up. There is no reason you need to stick with one wig. A variety of styles is now available to consumers. You can also purchase bangs or partial wigs separately to help change up your look.
  • Hats and turbans are also creative and cost-effective options for women battling hair loss. Your head or scalp may feel hot or irritated when wearing a wig, so you may want to consider these fun accessories.

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Hans Kalset is a leading cosmetologist and hair stylist in Washington, D.C., and for the past 11 years has worked at Lucien et Eivind Salon. Hans has worked with a variety of clients from all walks of life, including a number of celebrities and politicians. He also leads Look Good…Feel Better workshops throughout the D.C. area.

Visit lookgoodfeelbetter.org or call (800) 395-LOOK for more hair and makeup tips, to learn more about the Look Good…Feel Better program, to find a program in your area, or for information on how to volunteer.

This article was published in Coping® with Cancer magazine, July/August 2009.