On Chemo? Brighten Your Look With Makeup!

By Diana Bierman
Reviewed by Lillie Shockney, RN, MS, BAS

  • On Chemo? Brighten Your Look with Makeup!
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    If you’re on chemo, you’ve probably noticed some changes to your face, skin and hair—like thinning eyebrows or blemishes. And while this is quite normal, the changes can take a toll on your confidence. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology showed that 80% of people undergoing treatment felt bad about themselves because of appearance-related chemo side effects.

    If you’re one of them, remember that these changes are temporary. In the meantime, you can use these makeup tips to hide imperfections and enhance your beauty:

  • Liven up your color.
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    Liven up your color.

    Chemo can give you a pale complexion. To get back your natural glow, Look Good...Feel Better (LGFB), an organization that helps people undergoing cancer treatment, recommend using a cream-based foundation similar to your normal skin tone. For even results, apply and blend with a cosmetic sponge. Then apply a bit of blush to the apples of your cheeks. Choose a shade that complements your skin tone—light rose for light skin, a shade darker for medium skin and a plum or bronze for dark skin.

  • Ditch dry skin.
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    Ditch dry skin.

    To relieve dry skin—a common chemo side effect—wash your face each morning and night with lukewarm water and a mild soap or cleanser. Also consider using an alcohol-free toner, which can restore your skin’s pH balance. Pat dry and apply a moisturizing cream—pick one with an SPF higher than 15 and you’ll get built-in protection against damaging UV rays.

  • Re-create
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    Re-create eyebrows.

    If your eyebrows have thinned or fallen out, re-create them with a brush-on eyebrow pencil that matches your hair color. To mimic your natural arch, look at a picture of yourself taken prior to treatment.

  • Hide blemishes.
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    Hide blemishes.

    It’s easy with a stick or cream concealer one shade lighter than your skin tone. Simply dab some onto your ring finger and pat directly onto the blemish. Wait a few minutes to allow it to set, then lightly fan out the edges to blend. Apply foundation as usual.

  • Eliminate under-eye circles.
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    Eliminate under-eye circles.

    Use an eye cream or gel to treat dark circles or bags under your eyes—just avoid products that contain hydrocortisone, which may adversely affect your skin during chemo. You can also cover up under-eye bags with your foundation or concealer. Still no luck? Consider a color corrector, which can rid your face of unwanted color, such as dark circles. Pink shades will counteract pink or blue circles. For darker circles, use a peach-colored corrector.

  • Tame a puffy face.
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    Tame a puffy face.

    Chemo can make your face seem a little bloated. To create slimming contours, sweep some blush beneath your cheekbone—LGFB recommends using a warm beige/brown shade. To take down under-eye puffiness, use an eye cream or gel below your lower lids.

  • Emphasize your eyes.
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    Emphasize your eyes.

    Eye shadow will accentuate your eyes and divert the focus from other chemo-related skin imperfections. Opt for soft colors, like light pinks, browns and greens, to offset a washed-out complexion. Apply with a soft eyelid brush, and blend well to create a natural look.

  • Keep lips soft and moist.
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    Keep lips soft and moist.

    If your lips become cracked or dry, use a moisturizing lipstick to help make them smooth and supple again. Selecting a shade similar to the color of your blush will create balance between your eyes and lower face. However, if your complexion seems extra-pale, bring back brightness with a medium pink shade.

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