By Kate Elliot, Esthetician
For many, October’s Breast Cancer Awareness month really hits close to home. According to breastcancer.org, 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.
Self-care is essential during chemo or radiation treatment. Here are a few notes on how you can reduce stress and maintain the highest possible level of skin health.
During stressful and uncertain times, routine can get lost amidst the doctors appointments and uncomfortable side effects of treatment. That’s why creating a self-care routine can be immensely helpful in maintaining a sense of control. Through self-care, you are paying attention to your needs and regaining resilience, happiness and health. It is proven that acts of self care can be critical in reducing anxiety and the adverse effects of stress.
While many of us find great comfort in doing a nightly skincare routine, during cancer treatment it’s important to make some minor tweaks and changes. During this time, reducing exfoliation and certain “active” ingredients like vitamin A and C is recommended to help maintain a healthy skin barrier. Swap out your stronger exfoliants, for a more gentle formula.
Focusing on hydrating and calming before, during, and after treatment will make a big difference in how your skin looks and feels. Start with a thicker moisturizer morning and night to replenish your skin’s natural lipids and restore comfort. Valmont’s Prime Regenera II is a great ultra-rich option. You can also target sensitivity and inflammation with serums like Biologique Recherche’s Serum Biosensible for an added layer of protection.
While getting fresh air and your daily dose of natural vitamin D is important, chemotherapy will make your skin much more vulnerable to the damaging effects of sun exposure. As little as 20 minutes of sun without proper protection can lead to blisters and swelling. I suggest using a mineral SPF like EltaMD’S UV Pure for sensitive and reactive skin.
Taking time for self care is vital, so here are some steps you can take to create an at-home oasis on days when you need a little pick-me-up.
Our minds are the most powerful tools we have when it comes to maintaining a healthy body. Tools like mediation and mindfulness can be game changers for how we manage stress and anxiety. Start with just 10 minutes a day. Find a comfortable space, turn off devices, and close your eyes. People who meditate regularly notice reduced stress, better sleep, and a clearer mind.
Another great tool to add to this ritual are smudge sticks. Incense and smudge sticks can help create a more serene and relaxing environment. It has soothing, restorative, and healing properties making your meditation even more therapeutic.
Once your mind is at ease, slip into a warm bath with a nurturing bath salt soak. Treatments can leave your skin inflamed and dry. Soaking in a warm bath with calming and nourishing ingredients can help nourish your skin while soothing aches and pains. Finding an über-rich and healing mask can also be a great self-care step even on the busiest days and can be used whenever you need a little extra love. Throw it on while you sit in the bath, or while you prepare your favorite comfort meal. Masks can be an easy way to treat yourself and your skin in just a couple minutes.
Most importantly, be kind to yourself. There isn’t a one-size fits all in dealing with cancer. Find things that bring you joy and give yourself some grace in the process.
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