Your Questions Answered

Beauty tips, guidance, and support during cancer treatment.

By Jodie Hecker

Q. I am in the midst of chemotherapy treatment, and I have begun to lose my hair—including my eyebrows and eyelashes. Can you provide me with a few tips for making my eyes pop again?

A. For those of you who are undergoing chemotherapy and are starting to lose eyebrows and eyelashes, creating a wider and brighter look can help make your eyes pop again. Here are a few simple tips:

First, you will need a few tools, which you may already have in your makeup bag,

including:

  • bone or natural-colored eye shadow
  • darker-colored crease shadow
  • white or champagne cream shadow
  • black or deep-brown eyeliner
  • white eyeliner
  • eyebrow stencil
  • eyebrow powder or eyebrow pencil

Now you have all the tools to get to work. Read on for simple steps make your eyes pop:

Step 1: Examine your eyebrows and use tweezers to pluck away any stray hairs that prevent them from looking tidy. If you don’t have any eyebrows remaining, using an eyebrow stencil is the easiest way to recreate a perfect brow. Just match up the stencil along the brow bone and fill in with eyebrow powder or eyebrow pencil. If using an eyebrow pencil, be sure to use short, feathery strokes.  You can seal in the color with a brow gel or brow wax, if preferred.

Step 2: Apply a pale-neutral base color to your entire eyelid, from your lash line to your brows. The idea is that light shades brighten the eye. Using too many dark colors will only make eyes look smaller. Next, shade the outer corner of the lid and the crease with your darker color and blend well using a back-and-forth motion.

Step 3: Dab a little of your white- or champagne-colored cream shadow under the brow bone and blend. Add a touch more to the center of the lid and watch how your eyes instantly brighten up.

Step 4: Use the dark eyeliner to apply a thin line just above your upper eyelashes.  Make sure to extend the line just past the outer corner of your eye. If you no longer have eyelashes, add another line on top of your original line to create depth, and to give an illusion of having lashes. Line your lower lashes with a lighter touch and follow by smudging both of the lines with a brush specifically used for smudging to soften the look. Next, use a white- or cream-colored eyeliner along the inner rims of your eyes.

Q. Since I have been undergoing cancer treatment, I rarely have much energy to devote toward applying make-up. Do you have any simple, quick steps that I can take that won’t take a lot of time or effort?

A. If you don’t have a lot of energy or you’re short on time—but feel incomplete without makeup—here are a few tips to help you look and feel your best with minimal effort.

Step 1: Camouflage your “not-so-flattering” features.

If your skin’s blotchy or feeling dry, dab a little moisturizer on your face.  You will want to use a concealer to hide dark eye circles, facial blotchiness, and discoloration.  Next, use a foundation that matches your skin tone for a sheer natural finish. If your skin is a little pale or sallow, try using a pink or peachy blush (whichever flatters your skin tone) to help make you glow.  Give a big smile and lightly apply blush to the apples of your cheeks.  Blend along the cheekbone in an upward motion toward the ear.  Finally, lightly apply translucent powder over your face to set your makeup. This should only take you about 2 to 3 minutes.

Step 2: Accentuate Your Best Features

Now that you’ve minimized your trouble spots, it’s time to pick out your best feature and draw attention to it. Perhaps you have a great smile; if so, accentuate your lips with a bright lipstick or a soft gloss that flatters your skin tone. Maybe you have gorgeous eyes; play those up with colorful eyeliner. Use a darker color on the top lid, such as black or dark brown, and use a lighter color on the bottom lash, such as blue or light green. Any of these quick tricks will take about a minute.

Step 3: Finishing Touches for On-the-Go Makeup

All you have to do now is apply your eyebrows  (see above for eyebrow instructions).

Q. I feel like my skin is much more sensitive since I have begun my treatment. Do you have any recommendations for cleansing and moisturizing during this time?

A. Developing sensitive skin during cancer treatment is quite common because the treatment disrupts your skin’s normal process of rejuvenation.  You may experience dryness, increased sensitivity, and perhaps changes to your skin’s texture.

To care for your skin properly during this time, the first step should be to make sure that you have the right cleanser and moisturizer on hand. Choose a cleanser made specifically for sensitive or dry skin—preferably cream-based. Then, be sure to also select a facial moisturizer. With these products on hand, take the following steps:

Step 1: Cleanse your face with the gentle cleanser. Start from the forehead, using a light rotating motion outwards, and work your way down.

Step 2: Rinse with lukewarm water.

Step 3: Moisturize your face with a gentle facial moisturizer.  If you are experiencing dryness, try using a cream-based moisturizer.

Q.  I’d like to use concealer to help cover up the dark circles under my eyes. How should I go about choosing a concealer or foundation color and type?

A. Follow these easy steps to finding the right combination:

Step 1: If you’re using a foundation, choose a concealer no more than one shade lighter than your skin.  If you choose to wear concealer without foundation, a shade closer to your natural skin color will look best.

Step 2: For extreme discoloration around the eyes, try a color-correcting concealer.  Alabaster covers dark circles on warm skin tones; lavender gives a yellowish complexion a healthy glow and covers sallowness; mint neutralizes redness; pink highlights all skin tones; and orange covers blue tones such as veins and dark circles on dark skin.

Step 3: Choose a shade that matches the color of your skin at the jaw line.

Jodie Hecker is a licensed makeup artist and esthetician from Gaithersburg, Maryland, and has been a freelance makeup artist and skin care consultant for over 10 years.   Jodie  has been volunteering with the Look Good…Feel Better program for more than eight years.  She co-facilitates the monthly Look Good…Feel Better workshops at Georgetown University Medical Center’s Lombardi Cancer Center and programs at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, DC. Jodie also volunteers with Look Good…Feel Better at the national level, working with the Personal Care Products Council Foundation on a variety of national projects.

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 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.