Beauty and the Breast Issues – Looking Good Post-Cancer

Do you have breast issues? Has breast cancer nodded its ugly head toward you? As a two-time survivor, I’ll share some of my musings on beauty and the breast.

Weight gain

Breast cancer patients often gain weight from treatment. This fact escaped me when I first underwent treatment with chemotherapy. One reason is chemo-induced fatigue, resulting in decreased activity. Another is steroids contained in pre-chemo medications. 
 
To combat these effects, patients should eat a balanced diet of lean proteins, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and healthful fats in moderate amounts. In addition, cancer survivors should invest in exercise if at all possible. Once chemo was through, I hit the gym. One study reveals that 150 minutes of aerobic exercise five times a week lowered a patient’s risk of dying from breast cancer. Any amount of exercise beats sitting around.
 
Hair

After the second round of chemotherapy, my hair seriously started to shed. I chose to shave my head so my hair wouldn’t fall out in clumps. Then I headed to the local American Cancer Society (ACS) office, which provided a plethora of nice-looking complimentary wigs from which I could choose. They also supplied me with wig shampoo and styling advice. What a blessing to have these services available!
 
I asked my oncology nurses about taking a drug to grow my hair back more quickly. They weren’t enthusiastic about any medical remedies. Since I had wigs and didn’t desire to apply another topical treatment besides hair coloring, I scrapped the notion of a follicle-sprouting lotion.
 
Eventually my hair did grow back. After yearly treatment with Herceptin, however, it did not return as thick as before. Further, the daily pill Arimidex I take to reduce chances of recurrence causes hair thinning. To counter this, my hairdresser advised using Nioxin hair-thinning system, consisting of shampoo, conditioner, and treatment spray. After three months of use we noticed new hair sprouting. Mousses, volumizers, and thickening gels with wheat protein may also create the illusion of thicker manes. 
 
Skin Products

Cancer treatment can cause skin to dry out. Our local dermatologist gives monthly free skin-care advice to patients undergoing chemo or radiation. At his sessions he not only talked about how and why cancer treatments affect the skin, hair, and nails, but also showed us how to use cosmetic products correctly. We learned that creams are better than lotions in moisturizing the skin. Best of all, he handed out free samples of skin products in generous quantities.  
 
Fingernails

Another beauty symbol rife with breast issues involves fingernails. Chemo caused permanent ridges to form on mine, and Herceptin gave them the consistency of tissue paper until the drug left my system. “Sally Hansen Hard as Nails” nail polish helped to strengthen them. At my dermatologist’s urging I also took biotin supplements to counteract nail brittleness as Herceptin coursed through my veins. I continue on biotin, as I believe it makes a difference. Before taking any supplements, however, patients should consult their oncologist.
 
Makeup

The program “Look Good … Feel Better” offered by the ACS is well worth the time invested. This free service is dedicated to educating cancer survivors about beauty techniques to help restore their appearance and self-image during treatments.  Cosmetologists taught us the best way to apply makeup. We also received hundreds of dollars of free cosmetics as a favor bag from this “party.” My take-away message?  Blush and lipstick work color magic on faces pale from chemo.  And they take so little time to apply!
 
Reconstruction or Prosthesis

One of the largest breast issues is the decision whether to have reconstruction. For personal and medical reasons I opted against this procedure after my double mastectomy. To many women who undergo disfiguring surgery, however, reconstruction is an image-saver. 
 
I discovered that my local ACS office offers a large assortment of free prostheses and mastectomy bras.  Governments may require insurance companies to cover purchases of this sort; the patient seeking faux breasts should investigate all possibilities so she can look and feel her best in public.   

Jewelry

Since my cancer journey I have discovered jewelry of every style, color and shape.   Each piece helps brighten my day.  I found my post-chemo short hair looks cool with dangly earrings. But rings provide a challenge for me, a lymphedema patient. I have solved the dilemma by wearing my wedding band on my unaffected hand and buying rings with elastic bands so I can still dress up fingers on my swollen hand. We survivors are ever resourceful as we face each new trial.  
 
I pray that these musings on breast issues will help you sort through truths you can use when dealing with the modern-day obsession with beauty. Like objects in a side-view mirror, beauty is closer than you think.

The Upsides and Downsides of Beauty and Skin Care Products

The beauty and skin care products industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. Unfortunately, many of the products can range from lotion, make-up, anti-wrinkle and anti-aging products. In our quest for eternally youthful skin and for beauty, most people will do or try almost anything. Magazines, television ads, movie stars and models promote their own concept of beauty – after all isn’t beauty in the eye of the beholder?

As with most things there are two sides: the upside and the downsides. This is no less true for beauty and skin care products. They are packaged in fancy bottles and jars as well as other packaging to draw us in.

Let’s talk about the good sides of these products.

These products can help to improve your appearance and make you feel more confident.
Some women who use cosmetics sometimes feel more beautiful and younger looking while using them. Many of these products can reduce lines and wrinkles. They may also relieve or prevent acne flare-ups.

The most beneficial ingredients would be those that assisted your body in producing new collagen and elastin to keep your skin smoother and healthier. Your skin is the largest body organ. The exposed parts such as your face, neck, arms and legs are most vulnerable to wrinkles, lines, and acne. This is why it is so important to take good care of your skin.

Collagen is a fibrous protein with tensile strength. It helps to keep your skin nice and firm. Elastin on the other hand is another protein that provides skin with flexibility and firmness. It helps to bring your skin back to its normal place if it is stretched.

CoQ10 or coenzyme Q10 is a very strong antioxidant that protects your body from free radicals that have an unpaired electron. These can cause damage to other cells including skin cells. As you age, this antioxidant decreases giving way to wrinkles, lines, and other signs of aging. There are a number of forms of CoQ10 but not every one of them can be used on the skin topically. The one form that is usable by the skin is called Nano-lipobelle H-EQ10.

Nano-lipobelle H-EQ10 is a nano-emulsion form and can deeply penetrate the skin up to 7 layers deep. This means it provides better benefits for your skin and its health. It is very effective in destroying the free radicals that can cause so much damage to your skin. It can also help your body to create collagen and elastin. Collagen, CoQ10, and Nano-lipobelle EQ10 are among the most powerful anti-aging beauty and skin care available.

Phytessence Wakame is a unique kelp from the Japanese Sea. It helps the collagen and elastin fibers to stick together. It helps to breakdown a harmful enzyme called hyaluronidase that breaks down hyaluronic acid in your skin. Hyaluronan is also very beneficial in tissue repair.

Cynergy TK is a substance that stimulates your body to re-grow your own collagen. This improves the firmness and flexibility of your skin. Studies have shown a ongoing improvement of skin moisture of 14% in a period of over 15 days with this new new wonder substance.

The downside of skin and beauty products are that they have ingredients that are not only ineffective but also damage your skin. These are parabens, alcohols, mineral oil, dioxane, and fragrances. Some of these ingredients can be carcinogenic, which can clog pores and irritating the skin causing dryness and possible dependence on the lotion. They can also interrupt your body’s ability to get rid of toxins causing acne flare-ups and chapping.

The products may not be well researched in the rush to get it marketed and available to consumers. Some may look really good while it is on your skin but not so good once it is removed.

Other products may not meet their claims and include only minuscule amounts of things such as collagen just so it can be put on the label leaving you to think you are getting a good product.

In order to get the best product possible, they must contain high concentrations of the best ingredients such as collagen and CoQ10. Researching the products online may help you to choose the best product for your needs. If necessary, consulting your doctor can also be very beneficial.

Beauty and Makeup Made Easy For Busy Women

There is more to beauty and makeup than slapping on the war paint. Even when you are busy there are some simple rules you should follow when applying your cosmetics. Here are some must-have, free beauty tips that no woman should be without.

Like fine art, good makeup application begins with a clean canvas, so do not forget about facial skin care products. After cleansing your face, apply a good moisturizer and allow it to soak in. This will keep your foundation on top of the skin. The next step is to apply concealer and foundation to hide any dark circles and discoloration. Foundation should match your skin tone perfectly, so use great care when choosing your shade. Test the color just under the jaw line instead of on your cheek or hand. This will immediately let you know if it will be invisible on the face. If your skin is oily, then opt for an oil free or water-based foundation. Dry skin works best with a liquid foundation or rich cream. Always make sure that your foundation is well blended to avoid looking like you are wearing a mask.

With regard to beauty and makeup, after you have applied and blended your foundation, set it with loose powder. Choose a lightweight powder that will absorb into your skin instead of just sitting on top. This will help your makeup last all day. Use a large makeup brush and apply in a circular motion. Like your foundation, the color should match your skin tone perfectly. Use a light hand and dust off any excess powder. A matte finish will give your makeup a dated look.

Less is more when it comes to health beauty tips. Only apply powder or cream blush to the apples of your cheeks. Blend the blush in so that the color looks natural. If you make a mistake, then just moisten a sponge and gently dab your cheeks until you get the color you want. The lipstick you choose should match the tone of your skin, hair and eyes. Most women opt for softer colors during the day and darker shades in the evening. The same goes for your eye shadow. To give your eyes some extra pop, apply a shimmering highlighter just beneath the eyebrow and apply a thick, even coat of mascara to your lashes.

Now that you know the beauty and makeup basics, you can get creative with color. Blend trendy shades of eye shadow and liner for a smoky look worthy of a dark red silk scarf. Or, pick up a striking shade of lipstick that you never thought you would wear. The key is to create a pulled together, polished look that highlights your best features. Got great eyes? Layer on the waterproof mascara! Got a sexy pout? Play it up with red lipstick. You will love the way your new look will make you feel.

If you want to splurge, then companies that make high end cosmetic lines will provide consultations by appointment. However, do not feel that you have to buy costly products, try to get a sample first to make sure it suits you and your skin. If you practice your technique and choose the right shades for your skin tone, then you will look flawless every time.