Skin irritation is one of the most unwelcome side effects of life-saving cancer treatment.
Chemotherapy and radiation therapy cause skin to become dry, itchy, red or darker, or peel — or worse. And while these side effects seem trivial compared to the gravitas of life and death, oncology skincare makes a noticeable difference in recovery.
The physical and emotional effects of cancer and its treatment are devastating, often leaving patients feeling trapped in a body that no longer looks or feels like their own.
Oncology skincare products — specifically clean products— free of harsh parabens, phthalates, sulfates, and synthetic fragrances — can help to restore a sense of normality and control during an uncertain time. They can also provide much-needed relief from the side effects of cancer treatment, such as dryness, redness, and itching.
While you fight for your health, it's important to remember you're still you and deserve to feel the best you can, even under the worst conditions.
In this article, you’ll learn the effects of cancer treatment on our skin and what you can do about unwanted side effects. Plus, we’ll share our tried-and-true clean skincare products that helped protect our skin during cancer treatment.
The skin is our largest organ and the first line of defense against germs and toxins in the environment. Since chemotherapy suppresses the immune system, keeping your skin nourished safeguards against these germs and chemicals when we’re at our most vulnerable during treatment.
Unfortunately, it is often these life-saving treatments are often the cause of serious skin irritations. Some types of chemotherapy can cause your skin to become dry, itchy, red or darker, or peel. You may develop a minor rash or sunburn easily; this is called photosensitivity. Some people also have skin pigmentation changes.
Radiation therapy can cause the skin on the part of your body receiving radiation to become dry and peel, itch (called pruritus), and turn red or darker. Your skin may look sunburned or become swollen or puffy. You may develop sores that become painful, wet, and infected (Cancer.gov).
Always consult your doctor and medical team before trying anything new so it does not interfere with your cancer care plan. Depending upon the treatment you are receiving, your healthcare team may advise you to take these steps:
There is still much debate about the safety of ingredients like parabens and the possible carcinogenic effects of ingredients in our beauty products. Until the research is complete, it's a personal decision to decide what we feel is right.
It was important to us to take an active role in our health and treatment by exploring all types of healing to complement medical intervention. So it makes sense to consider the ingredients in skincare products.
Most oncologists and nurses recommend going organic. Both in terms of what you put in your body and what you put on your skin during and after treatment. It's worth noting the advice of Dr. Fiona McCarthy, a dual-qualified oncologist and aesthetics doctor.
"Essential oils and fragrances can be irritating to sensitive skins, especially during cancer treatment, and even products labeled 'natural' or 'organic' will often contain these," she explained to Get The Gloss.
Cancer is an emotionally and physically draining experience, which is why it’s crucial to take care of both your physical and emotional health during cancer treatment. We relied on these products below to help us feel more like ourselves again:
CV Skinlabs Organic Skincare Rescue + Relief Spray
The cool, soothing mist provides instant relief to irritated, inflamed, and itching skin caused by cancer treatments. It's water-thin (no greasy residue) and easy to use, with a gentle natural cucumber scent that makes the experience spa-like.
CV Skinlabs Organic Skincare Body Relief Lotion
This ultra-soothing body lotion gently glides on to absorb quickly and provide deep-hydrating and nourishing benefits to fragile and sensitive, and stressed skin. It's ideal for soothing stressed skin and skin suffering from chemotherapy treatments.
Use AM and PM to relieve dry, itchy, and stressed skin and reveal a luminous glow.
CV Skinlabs Organic Skincare Restorative Skin Balm
This petrolatum-free, nourishing salve moisturizes and helps protect it from environmental aggressors. Designed to coat the skin and create a soothing barrier to trap in moisture, use it to instantly soften severely dry, rough, and chapped skin, including lips, cuticles, eczema, cuts, scrapes, IV areas, abrasions, chaffing, new scars and any other areas needing TLC.
iSUN Coco-Cucumber Facial Cleanser
Cooling cucumber and nurturing aloe vera juice supports the restoration of the skin’s protective barrier as this silky essential oil-free cleanser soothes and hydrates even the most sensitive skin.
100% PURE Beauty Natural Hand Sanitizer
This plant-based sanitizer helps reduce disease-causing bacteria. It's a quick-drying vegan hand sanitizer spray formula made with hydrating aloe vera gel and antibacterial tea tree oil to leave skin feeling soft and moisturized without a sticky residue.
Our survivor-curated Cancer Kits contain high-quality, clean products free of chemicals, fragrances, or toxins to soothe side effects and nourish the mind, body, and spirit — including the products recommended in this article.
Our mission is to deliver clean, proven healing products when they’re needed most. By removing the stress of searching for what helps, those in treatment can focus on healing and living their best life.
Recipients will receive an inspirational welcome note as well as how-to-use guidance material on every product. Each Healing Essentials Kit contains 25 products ($500 value). All kits will have unique elements based on the recipient's cancer type and preferences.
Peek inside our Healing Essentials Kit here.
The Food and Drug Administration has not evaluated these statements. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.