No matter how we may fight it, the fact is, aging takes its toll on our faces and it’s our job to adjust our skin care regimen to keep up. We’re doing pretty well, we think, but our work becomes that much harder when we get sick and feel at our worst.

Welcome to the unique field of oncology skin care that’s dedicated to helping cancer patients take the best possible care of their skin. It makes sense that when the immune system is weakened, our bodies are most vulnerable. Suddenly, the steps to healthy skin care are not just a plus but an absolute must.

There’s so much we need to understand post-diagnosis, including how cancer affects our skin so we can treat it with the love it deserves.

For starters, here are some little known facts:

  • 2 in 5 Canadians will develop cancer in their lifetime
  • The top skin care concerns for cancer patients include dehydration, itchiness, sun sensitivity, inflammation, rashes, hives, pigmentation and bruising
  • If you’re undergoing chemotherapy or radiation, you need to tread lightly in spa waters

Of course, our number one priority is to heap on the TLC when we’re sick. We want our girl timeouts atour favourite spa to enjoy regular facials, mani pedis and massages. Why not? We deserve it now more than ever. But should we consider things beauty business as usual?

According to Dermalogica Education Manager Holly Sherrard, oncology patients need to change up their beauty essentials. Still, there’s no reason your skin should suffer. Her expert skincare tips for cancer patients are key for anyone seeking skin therapies post-diagnosis.


DO look for a certified oncology skin care therapist who knows which treatments are best suited to your skin and when.

DO ensure you receive a comprehensive consultation and thorough skin analysis.

DO seek customized treatments that use products to improve skin integrity and encourage total body wellness.

DO use products that soothe, heal and offer barrier protection.

DO use plant-based products that help combat sensitivity and inflammation.

DO use products such as oatmeal, arnica and Canadian willow-herb to gently build up the skin’s barrier.

DO consult a skin care expert before purchasing new products, one who can prescribe based on proper knowledge.

DO wear sunscreen every day – physical SPF is gentler on the skin by reflecting the sun’s rays off the body.

DON’T use products with artificial fragrances. They can cause nausea.

DON’T look for one-size-fits all recommendations or treatments.

DON’T use aggressive exfoliants that can cause skin sensitivity.

DON’T treat acne realated breakouts due to medication from cancer therapies. Refer to a physician first.

DON’T do chemical peels.

DON’T treat hyperpigmentation due to radiation. Skin will be too fragile.

DON’T do laser hair removal.

DON’T  book in any manicures and pedicures. A simple manicure can lead to lymphedema.

DON’T book yourself any massages. An arm massage after a lumpectomy can lead to lymphedema.

DON’T complete any microdermabrasion.

DON’T submit to therapies using electrical current that can further aggravate the skin.

DON’T wax. It can hurt and tear the skin, increasing the risk of infection.

DON’T do body wraps. When you’re fighting cancer, your body is already working hard to detox. Detoxifying will put more stress on the body, leading to vomiting or serious illness. It can also detox cancer fighting medications out of your system.

Dermalogica is a global leader in skin care products and treatments.

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