Caring For Your Skin During Chemotherapy


Chemotherapy is a powerful tool in the fight against cancer. However, like most harsh treatments, it can have a negative impact on your skin. Many skin care lines and even skin care professionals don’t understand the changes that your skin will undergo as a result of your treatment. As an esthetician that specializes in cancer and pre and post surgical care, I would like to offer these tips to help you cut through the confusion and maintain healthy, beautiful skin during this time.

  • Chemotherapy often results in dry, patchy skin. Cleansing your face and body with a mild, but creamy cleanser can help your skin stay clean, but keeps an appropriate amount of essential oils on the skin. These oils are necessary to keep the skin lubricated and free of fissures and scales. I recommend fragrance free cleansers like Cetaphil for moderately dry skin and Eucerin Cleanser for those with intensely dry skin. 
  • Chemotherapy can cause an increase in photosensitivity. Simply put, you are more apt to sunburn than normal. Therefore, it is imperative that you use a sunscreen daily to help keep your skin from burning. For best results, use a sunscreen that is at least an SPF of 15 and is for sensitive skin. If you are planning to be outdoors for any longer than 30 minutes at any time, wear a hat with a 2 inch brim all the way around to shield your face from the sun, as well as loose fitting, long sleeved shirts.
  • Occasionally, chemotherapy can cause skin around the veins to darken. This often reverses itself a few months after treatment. In the interim, skin can be treated with several fade creams/serums that are on the market. These products normally contain either the chemical hydroquinone or a naturally derived substance such as kojik acid, azelaic acid, citrus or apple. I recommend azelaic acid as the active ingredient as it is plant derived and generally considered less irritating and is less potentially toxic than hydroquinone.  As a tyrosinase inhibitor, azelaic acid reduces synthesis of melanin.

    I recommend Rodial Super Acids Daily Azelaic Acid Serum. In addition to azelaic acid, this serum contains hyaluronic acid to help increase moisture content in the skin and shea butter to help soothe the surface and protect from additional environmental stressors.
  • To combat dry skin, use a cream or lotion while your skin is still moist. This helps to seal the moisture on your skin and slows the rate in which the moisture from your skin evaporates. Also, it is a good idea to avoid perfume or cologne as many of these have an alcohol base, which is extremely drying. I recommend Andrea Garland's Lavender Face Cream. It is emollient enough to protect the skin, but won't aggravate already angry skin. 
  • Make sure to drink plenty of fluids to keep your skin hydrated and avoid long, hot baths and showers, which can dry skin even more.
  • Wash your clothes in hypoallergenic detergent. Dreft (which is often used for infants and those with severe allergies) is an outstanding and gentle detergent.
  • If there is a flare up of acne, continue to clean your face as you normally would. Avoid any spot treatments and drying solutions as these are often made of highly irritating compounds. 

The Gilded Girl does offer facial services for those undergoing cancer therapies. With over 15 years experience in the industry, including time spent working with professionals at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, I am uniquely qualified to safely assist you in your healing. Email me at for more information or to book an appointment.

Happy thoughts for a speedy and lasting recovery.

Much love,

Previous Post Next Post

  • Elizabeth Quesnelle
Comments 0
Leave a comment
Your Name:*
Email Address:*
Message: *

Please note: comments must be approved before they are published.

* Required Fields