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Chemotherapy and your skin: A guide to skincare during cancer treatment

Chemotherapy and your skin: A guide to skincare during cancer treatment

Chemotherapy and your skin: A guide to skincare during cancer treatment

Chemotherapy is a modern-day treatment designed to stop cancer in its tracks. As an often-systemic therapy, while the benefits far outweigh any side effects, the downside of a course of chemotherapy is often the unwanted impact on healthy cells.

How does chemotherapy affect the skin?

While there’s no ‘normal’ for how skin cells will respond to chemotherapy, in many cases, skin can become rough, itchy, patchy, red, or sore to touch. The epidermis may also become compromised and lose functionality making it more difficult to hold onto the water and oil vital for hydration. This lack of moisture can compromise cellular integrity leaving skin dry and accelerating the visible signs of ageing.

If you’re facing cancer treatment or supporting a loved one who is, here are some of our general tips for how to care for skin during chemotherapy.

Always use a physical sunscreen

During treatment, the skin will become more sensitive to the sunlight making it easier to burn or damage. Always apply a high factor, broad-spectrum sunscreen (protection against UVA and UVB rays) before leaving the house regardless of the weather forecast. As the skin may be extra sensitive, opt for a physical sunscreen rather than a chemical option.

While you might not be spending long days at the beach, we can’t reiterate enough how sun sensitive the skin is during treatment. If your usual burn time is ten minutes, chemotherapy can accelerate this to as little as one to two minutes.

Avoid exfoliation

While we’re big advocates for exfoliation, once treatment has started, you might find that even the gentlest of products can irritate already delicate skin cells. Exfoliation can be too harsh on broken or damaged skin, so we recommend avoiding grainy scrubs until chemotherapy is complete and the barrier function has been restored.

Cleanse with a serum cleanser

You might not wear as much makeup or face as many environmental toxins as usual during cancer treatment, but cleansing is still an important part of your skincare ritual. Thoroughly cleansing removes all traces of debris including toxins that can become trapped underneath the skin’s surface leading to irritation or redness.

As with any product, we urge you to choose your cleanser carefully. Applying synthetics to already sensitised skin can increase irritation and make the skin feel worse.

If you feel that the face is too sensitive to touch or apply a cleanser, simply soak a microfibre cloth with water and gently pat the face to remove the surface layer of debris. The microfibre will lift the particles off of the skin’s surface and trap them in the wipe to give the skin a good clean.

Where possible, follow makeup removal with a serum cleanser such as Bc Refresh Cleanser. The extract of soapberry contains amino acids and phenolic acids that work to repair cells and gently restore the skin’s barrier, reduce redness and condition.  In a world first, Bc Refresh Cleanser is free from synthetic surfactants and fragrances that can lead to irritation making it a kinder choice for already delicate skin.

Apply an organic oil to nails and cuticles

A side effect of chemotherapy can be weaker, darker or more brittle nails.

Regularly massage Br Organic Rosehip Oil into the finger and toenail cuticles to hydrate the skin and strengthen nails with the potent combination of essential vitamins A and E, and linoleic and alpha-linoleic acids.

Apply plant vitamin C to dark circles

As the skin thins during treatment, dark circles under the eyes might become more prominent. Apply Bk Vitamin C Face & Eye Serum directly to the delicate under-eye area to help stimulate collagen and elastin production to thicken the skin cells and reduce the visibility of the blood vessels that appear as dark circles.

Scalp care 101

If chemotherapy has caused hair loss, you might notice your scalp is sore, irritable, red and sensitive. Without hair, the scalp’s natural oils are no longer produced and the scalp can quickly become dry and flaky.

The better you take care of your scalp now, the better for the hair once treatment is complete so regular scalp maintenance is a must. Regularly massage the scalp with Br Organic Rosehip Oil to stimulate the cells and encourage the removal of leftover fluff or stubble.

And of course, always make sure you apply sunscreen (and a hat) before leaving the house!

Drink lots of water

As chemotherapy progresses, the skin’s barrier can become compromised causing the skin to become dry or dehydrated and accelerate the visible signs of ageing. Drinking more water is an easy way to get more hydration into the cells and assist functionality. To make a change from plain water, introduce herbal teas, green smoothies and water-dense foods such as cucumber and celery.

Avoid sugar

Appetite can be a constant battle for those going through chemotherapy but sugar and processed foods can encourage breakouts and make redness and irritation worse. Be led by your appetite first but be aware of how much sugar you consume and consider reducing the sweet treats if the condition of the skin is a concern.

BL Nourish Lip Serum on standby!

Lips can be one of chemotherapy’s biggest victims because they lack the natural oils that hydrate the rest of the skin making them more susceptible to damage. BL Nourish Lip Serum can be used as an overnight conditioning treatment but during chemotherapy, we recommend applying all day, every day regardless of whether the lips are dry or cracked and especially during long hospital appointments in harsh aircon.

Chosen for its natural healing properties, the extract of blood red finger lime is filled with 100% active phyto-actives designed to work together to reduce inflammation, calm redness and hydrate delicate lips.

Don’t ignore rashes or hives

While you might be tempted to put up with some skin irritations, never ignore rashes or hives. If the skin becomes bumpy, itchy or aggressive quickly, always seek medical advice as this could be a sign of an infection or allergic response.

Apply Bf Restore Face & Body Serum everywhere! 

The skin is going to require a lot more due care and attention during chemotherapy, and Bf Restore Face & Body Serum is our multi-use go-to serum…aka your skin’s best friend.

Suitable for use all over the body, face, scalp and nails, there’s no body part too delicate or sensitive for the hardworking actives found in Australian finger lime. We don’t recommend using Bf Restore Face & Body Serum on open wounds or broken skin, but for healthy cells, apply liberally as and when needed to hydrate, nourish and repair the skin.

Biologi and chemotherapy

While Biologi is the world’s first range of plant serums that get results using the power of active ingredients alone, some products might not be suitable for everyone undergoing chemotherapy.

We recommend you prepare the skin by getting used to active ingredients in advance of any treatment. Introduce new products gradually by using just once a day to allow the skin time to adapt. If using active ingredients for the first time during chemotherapy, always conduct a skin patch test and consult a medical practitioner in advance.

How to conduct a skin patch test

Apply a small amount of the product to clean, dry skin. The general wait time for reaction is approximately 24-48 hours, however, in some cases, a longer reaction time can occur.  Please refer to your medical practitioner if you are unsure about patch testing.

While chemotherapy can take its toll on the skin, it’s important to remember that any skincare changes experienced are only temporary. Once treatment is over, the skin, hair and nails are likely to return just as healthy as they were before treatment began.

To find out more, visit our website today.

*Disclaimer: This is general advice and doesn’t constitute personalised skincare guidance.  If you are unsure about starting any new skincare product, please refer to your medical practitioner. We don’t recommend using any Biologi product on open wounds or broken skin.


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