Look Good…Feel Better® Tips for Red-Carpet Readiness During Cancer Treatment

By Darrell Redleaf

According to the American Cancer Society, approximately one in three women will be diagnosed with cancer in her lifetime. Cancer can profoundly affect a woman’s life, including her confidence. As a veteran beauty expert, I’ve worked with A-list celebrities for years, including Helen Hunt, Cameron Diaz, Scarlett Johansson, and Jewel; but what brings me the most joy is working with women who are battling everyday or life-changing obstacles.

I’ve had the privilege of learning about Look Good…Feel Better as a beauty ambassador for Look Good…Feel Better corporate partner Clarisonic. This amazing program provides support, community, and practical beauty advice to cancer patients. I have also had the opportunity to meet some of these truly inspiring women, who are trying to regain a bit of normalcy at a very difficult time in their lives. I have shared with them—and now share with you—a few great techniques and self-empowering beauty tricks of the trade to help deal with treatment-related hair loss and skin issues. The following are four of my favorites.

Prepping the Skin

Your face is the first thing people see, and when it’s glowing, clear, and radiant, you’re most of the way there. Developing dry or sensitive skin during chemotherapy and radiation is common—and may require changes in your daily skin care routine. It’s important to keep your skin moisturized and protected.

Start with a clean face. All of those beautiful Hollywood celebrities spend time preparing their skin for red carpet–ready makeup, and proper cleansing is important. As a cancer patient, starting with a gentle, moisturizing cleansing solution is also an important first step. I often recommend thorough but gentle sonic cleansing for my clients, and you might ask your physician if this is right for you.

Once your face is cleansed, apply sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 (apply to your hands at the same time). Then choose a moisturizer according to your skin type or special needs during chemotherapy or radiation treatment. You may find that you need something more hydrating than usual, such as a night cream rather than a lotion. A little trick that I use on my celebrity clients that helps retain moisture in the skin is to mist the face with water before applying moisturizer.

Faking It

Concealer instantly helps hide any little imperfections and other changes in your skin. It can be worn under foundation to hide dark circles and other discolorations. Choose a color slightly lighter than your skin tone. If you don’t already have a shade that works for you, or if choosing becomes tricky, seek help from a Look Good…Feel Better volunteer cosmetologist or a local beauty professional.

Follow your concealer application with a thin veil of foundation. Dot foundation on your forehead, cheeks, chin, and nose, then blend with a moistened, wedge-shaped sponge or a foundation brush. To set the foundation, apply loose or pressed powder sparingly. The key here is to enhance your natural beauty, not to camouflage it.

At times, chemotherapy can cause roundness in the face. To sculpt your facial features, use a contour powder and imagine the number three as you apply: side of forehead, under the cheekbone, and at the jaw line. That will help create a shadow and give a natural contour to your features. Try a matte, non-shimmer bronzing powder that is slightly darker than your skin tone.

Face-Framing Brows

If our eyes are the windows to the soul, our eyebrows are the window frame—they are crucial to defining the face. There are several ways to re-create your eyebrows if they have thinned or fallen out. Although daunting, drawing eyebrows on freehand is easier than it sounds. If you feel more comfortable with a clearly defined guide, you may opt for eyebrow stencils. Choose the shape that best resembles your eyebrows and use an eyebrow pencil to fill in with light, feathery, upward strokes.

Each eyebrow should start at the point perpendicular to the crease of your nostril and just above the bridge of your nose (on same side as nostril). Tilt that line out to the corner of your eye, and that’s where the brow should end. The highest point of your eyebrow arch should occur directly above the outside edge of your pupil.

Once you have drawn your eyebrows, lightly fill in the shape with powder and a brush. The rule of thumb here is to fill them in softly (light, feathery, short strokes) and always in an upward motion. Choose a color slightly lighter than your natural hair color.

To mimic eyelashes, use a dark-brown eye pencil at the lash line and smudge with your fingertip or a sponge to create a soft, smoky eyelash.

A Healthy Glow

Blush is one of the easiest ways to start looking healthier and feeling fabulous. Select a powder or cream blush in a shade that complements your skin tone: subtle apricot for light skin, rose/subtle plum for medium skin, or deep rose/plum/bronze for dark skin. I prefer cream blushes because they have a more subtle effect, leaving you with seemingly naturally glowing skin. Smile and apply on the apple of the cheeks, keeping the color light and blended.

Finish your look with a fabulous lip color that makes you feel like yourself again: beautiful and confident!

Darrell Redleaf is a hair and makeup artist with more than 25 years of experience. He has worked in television and print advertising and in the feature film industry. Darrell works regularly with A-list celebrities to create beautiful, unique looks on location and on the red carpet. He is helping spread the word about Look Good…Feel Better through his public appearances as a beauty ambassador for Look Good…Feel Better corporate partner/supporter Clarisonic (www.clarisonic.com). Working with Clarisonic, Darrell is helping to raise awareness, encourage volunteers, and expand the reach of the Look Good…Feel Better program.

The Look Good…Feel Better program was founded and developed in 1989 by the Personal Care Products Council Foundation, a charitable organization established by the Personal Care Products Council, the leading national trade association representing the global cosmetic and personal care products industry. The program is a collaboration of the Personal Care Products Council Foundation, the American Cancer Society, and the Professional Beauty Association/National Cosmetology Association, a national organization that includes salons, spas, distributors, manufacturers, and more than 25,000 beauty professionals. For more information about Look Good…Feel Better or programs available in your area, please visit www.lookgoodfeelbetter.org, call (800) 395-LOOK [5665], or contact your local American Cancer Society office.