Beauty Post: Chemo Skin

As many of you know, chemo can wreak havoc on your skin (for details you can visit this article on The biggest issue is dehydration. Chemo pretty much dries your entire body out (hence the recommended 96 ounces of water a day). Other issues can be Psoriasis/Eczema (since I have Psoriatic Arthritis and Eczema, I was particularly concerned about this).

Fortunately, I am doing pretty well with staying hydrated, and in my last two months’ Birchboxes, I received two amazing products that I ended up buying full-size. I was going to wait an entire month to review these, but I’m so happy with the results, I am going to share now.

First of all, here I am without any makeup on, ready for bed (clarification: in bed).

Photo on 12-22-15 at 9.10 PM

Honestly, not so bad. I have received compliments lately on my skin, and my excuse is that I wear a lot of makeup, but I think I need to give more credit to these two products:

As I mentioned before, I am not a paid reviewer, nor do I even think Birchbox knows I exist. But my skin looks like it does seven weeks into Chemo because of these two products. So I think I should give credit where credit is due.

The first product (which, ironically, I received second) is Avène Hydrance Optimale. Somehow they got a whole lot of spring water into this to create long-lasting hydration. It also enhances the effectiveness of any moisturizer used after it. I use this morning and night after washing my face.

The second product (that I received first) is the Embryolisse 24-Hour Miracle Cream. This product contains both shea butter and aloe vera. However, it does not clog my pores at all. Because I am receiving Chemo I use this morning and night as well. For those not undergoing Chemo, I’d probably start with only once a day. It absorbs into the skin quickly, and leaves my face feeling smooth, not sticky at all.

I have a terrible skincare routine, so all of this is pretty new to me. But I have been trying to cleanse my face every night. Thing is, I just use a generic brand (CVS) makeup remover wipe. That’s it. No other cleanser. Then I apply these two products. In the morning, if my face feels like it can handle a cleanser, I just use the Simple Moisturizing Cleanser. Sometimes, I just rinse with water. And then I apply both these items, usually just a minute or so before I apply makeup.

This is the reason I joined Birchbox. I wanted to be able to try products before I bought. I desperately wanted to improve my skincare routine, but didn’t want to spend a ton of money on products, only to have them work poorly. If you are interested in doing something similar, I highly recommend one of these subscriptions. I chose Birchbox, but there are a number of companies that offer similar options.

If you click on the links, you will see that neither product is particularly inexpensive (although the Miracle Cream is available in a 30 ML size for less money and commitment). However, only a little of each product is needed, and, well … when you’re bald and people are paying particular attention to your face … it, in my opinion, is absolutely worth it.

Stay tuned for more Beauty posts. I should be receiving a new box soon, and I might be heading to Ulta soon!



My FIRST Beauty Post

I am SO excited!!! Can you tell?? Before I get started, I have to thank my longest friend (I used to say oldest, but then people started thinking she was old), whom I have known since I was six years old. She was three. I’m not sure we were actually friends at that point, because I mean … she was a toddler. But we’ve stayed friends: she was in my wedding. If she gets married, I know I will be in hers (wink, wink). She’s my sister’s sister-in-law. She gave my now husband the affectionate nickname “Stalker” when we went to Italy together in 1999. It’s been a good run, and even though we don’t talk or email much, I think we have mutual faith that we love each other and we ALWAYS have each other’s back.

And my cancer diagnosis was no exception. She gave me one of the most thoughtful gifts I received. Gifts to make me feel feminine and pretty. Nail polishes, lipstick, and a fabulous eyeshadow gift set. Plus a gift card to pick my own goodies. I have taken such an interest in my make up now, especially since I am now bald as a cue ball (you’ll see soon). So A, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I feel pretty when I go out 🙂

This post will be a little longer, because I’m going to share with you some of my basic routine. First of all, I am horrible about a cleansing and moisturizing routine. Which is bad because my skin gets very dry. So I recently signed up for BirchBox. So far, I am enjoying it. They send different samples each month, and if you like them, it is super easy for you to order from your “box.” I have ordered a serum and a moisturizer from them. Once I give it a few weeks, I may review them here (I am not being paid by BirchBox, I just want to share things with my friends that I think works).

I am a pretty loyal Bare Minerals user. I have been for years, now. It doesn’t irritate my skin at all, and I don’t feel quite so guilty when I sleep in my makeup. Although, since I’m so focused on my eye makeup, I tend to wake up looking like a, well, a person who might wake up in an alley questioning her previous night’s decisions (was that PC enough?). Not to mention my poor pillowcase. So I am focusing on washing my face at night now. How quickly I digress.

My favorite thing from Bare Minerals right now is this product, applied with the pictured brush.

It’s a tinted hydrating cream. In the summer, I sometimes wear this without their famous BareMinerals Powder Foundation. Right now, though, I start with this as a base, applying it to my face with my finger, and blending in with the brush, paying closer attention to dark or red spots, and applying specifically under my eyes (dark circles) and on my eyelids. I follow with the three-steps of the powder foundation.

Here is my look from today. I didn’t have a chance to take it until this evening, so some of the makeup has undoubtedly worn off, especially since I’m still blowing my nose a lot.

I had on one of the cute hats that my friend S knitted for me, but I was too warm when I got home, so I decided to show you my new bald head.

I wore a black and grey top today, so I decided to try out the sample I received in my December BirchBox. But, I wanted to throw some more dimension too. Here are the shadows I used:

So my inspiration for the look was the sampler in the middle. I think it is found in the set linked there. But, since I received Le Grand Chateau from Too Faced as a gift (I linked the brand site, but feel free to search your favorite makeup place, too), I felt like two shadows weren’t enough. As far as tools go, I do have a set of eye brushes that I got from Sephora (worth it, in my opinion. I have other brushes too, but I got a gift card, so I got this new set with several more brushes. Bottom line is that eye brushes — whether a few or a set — make a huge difference in application).

I started with La Marais from Too Faced as an all over color — up to the brow bone, down to the lash line. It looks very white in the case, but it actually has this gorgeous pale pink shimmer to it (upon further research, it appears that this is only available in the gift set I was given. However, I am sure that they carry a similar, if not, exact color with a different name). Then I used the left color in the Sample Pack under the brow bone, to the corner, to the lash line. Feel free to connect that all to appear as one stroke. I did this two or three times on each eye to build the color.

Next I used the Mojito in the crease (again several applications). Unfortunately, this did fade quite a bit. I’m still hoping for an eye shadow primer in one of my future BirchBoxes.

Finally, I took a liner brush to the darker Sample Color to create the look of an eye liner to the lash line. For me, the shadow ends up creeping to the lower lash line, so I just need to fill in a bit to get the bottom liner look.

I followed up with Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara. I’m not being dirty, that’s actually the name of it. It was part of the gift set, and I didn’t fully realize till I looked at the picture with my eyes closed how much I like it!

I finished up with Tre Fab bronzer, which apparently is only available in Le Grand Chateau, linked above, and a swipe with my Bare Minerals finishing brush. I don’t add more powder, just use the remaining in the brush to create a seamless look. The eye shadow can spread to your temples and under eyes … just take a big fluffy brush to wipe away. If you don’t have a brush, a tissue works wonders too 🙂

OK, that’s a wrap! Please provide your critiques, suggestions, adulation, whatever, in the comments.