I’ve always been the kind of person who can keep a lipstick for a decade. So, I didn’t bother much with makeup when I was going through treatment. I’ll admit, though, when I look back at pictures from that time—pale and lacking eyebrows—I think maybe I should have thought about makeup a bit more.
This is a tough topic. Some might say that any suggestion that women should make an effort to “look great!” during cancer is putting undue pressure on them, like insisting that a cancer patient “be brave,” or “stay positive” or “be a fighter!” when patients often feel scared, negative and too tired to fight. If you’re not into makeup—as I’m not—you shouldn’t have to make it a priority because of cancer.
But I’m sure a significant percentage of women going through cancer treatment do want to make the most of makeup. And men, most of whom probably never considered makeup before cancer, might want to use it during treatment just to look more normal.
There’s plenty of makeup advice out there for cancer patients, including Pinterest boards, and many YouTube tutorials (including here and here). You can also find text advice on The Huffington Post, Marie Claire, the American Cancer Society, and many more.
Sephora, the French mega makeup chain that sucks up much of my teenager’s allowance, is offering free makeup classes for people facing major life challenges, including cancer (you can see a video about it here).
And the American Cancer Society’s Look Good, Feel Better program offers 2-hour, hands-on workshops, including options on hair loss, nail and complexion problems and more. For women unable to travel to a workshop, American Cancer Society will provide a video, a printed booklet, a virtual makeover tool, and a beauty app for cancer patients.
The American Cancer Society has also developed materials designed for men, who aren’t always included in these sorts of programs.
Whether makeup has been your thing in the past or not, cancer may make it more of a priority. And, thankfully, there are some resources out there to teach you how to make the best use of it.