Beauty tips for cancer patients

Looking good can be an effective hedge against feeling absolutely rotten. So when cancer treatments take a toll on your skin and hair, that's truly adding insult to injury. But there's help from makeup artist Ramy Gafni, a survivor of non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

Mr. Gafni, who has a cosmetics line at, teaches classes at New York's CancerCare and has written Ramy Gafni's Beauty Therapy: The Ultimate Guide to Looking and Feeling Great While Living With Cancer (M. Evans and Co. Inc., $25).

Here are some of his tips for looking good throughout your cancer treatment.

Skin care

Your favorite products probably won't be kind enough right now. "It's best to just assume you're sensitive, and treat yourself with kid gloves," Mr. Gafni says. "Use very basic products – no anti-aging or fruit acids, anything exfoliating. In fact, I highly recommend baby products – Johnson's Baby Wash or Baby Lotion."

If you lose your hair, give your scalp tender care. "Treat the top of the head as an extension of your face. It's skin, just like the rest of you, but it's like baby skin that's never been exposed to anything."

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For radiation burns, try 100 percent pure aloe vera gel. "You can get it at health-food stores. Keep it refrigerated. It's very refreshing."

Skin tone

"I went through chemo myself. You look white, you look green, you look yellow. It was like multicolor skin. Every day was an adventure."

Men and women look better with a touch of powder or gel bronzer. "It livens up your complexion, and that's true for people of any ethnicity." Choose a medium shade. "Apply it where the sun would naturally hit you on your hairline, cheeks, chin." If the color seems bright, tone it down with translucent powder. "I prefer pressed to loose because with loose powder you get too much powder on your skin."

For dark circles around the eyes, apply a moisturizing concealer around the orb of the eye, from lash line to brow bone.

Even if you don't usually wear cosmetics or you gravitate to quiet colors, go for bold. "Adding a slightly bright blush or lip color can make a huge difference. Your face suddenly comes to life. If you're intimidated by color, try a sheer formula or a gloss."

Eyebrows and eyelashes

False eyelashes aren't a great idea. "When you're going through treatment, your immune system is compromised, and you're more susceptible to infection from the glue." Plus, he points out, you could be pulling out real, regrown eyelashes when you remove the fakes.

Use a neutral color to line the upper lash line. "Pen or pencil adheres to bare skin better than a powder. Don't make a straight line, smudge it. It doesn't have to be perfect. That actually looks like real hair."

While your lashes are vulnerable, avoid waterproof mascara. "It's cumbersome to remove, and you'll be pulling out the good lashes while you're tugging to remove it."

If your eyebrows get sparse, fill in the gaps with a color that's lighter than the remaining hairs.

If you lose your eyebrows altogether, make drawn-on brows look more natural by choosing a color that's as close as possible to your natural brows and then pat on some translucent powder. "That takes the sheen off the color, makes it look not so strong."

As your brows grow back, resist the temptation to clean up stragglers. "Wait until there's a line to work with. Bite the bullet and let it grow in. Don't keep pulling out strays. They might be part of your eyebrows once they come in."


People usually approach the wig issue one of two ways, Mr. Gafni says. One group gets playful and becomes the blonde, brunette, redhead or baldie Mother Nature never intended. Others are traumatized by the hair loss and want a wig that matches as close to their own hair as possible. "I advise those people to go shopping for a wig while you still have your hair. You don't know wigs, but the wig person knows hair. If it's too late to go while you have hair, bring a swatch and a picture of yourself with hair."
Beauty tips for cancer patients <strong>Beauty tips for cancer patients</strong> Reviewed by traveller on 11:17:00 PM Rating: 5

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