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Skin and Nails -- Managing Chemo Side Effects With Style

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 12/10/2015 Kenyatta Joseph
PAINTING NAILS © Tetra Images via Getty Images PAINTING NAILS

October is the month we set aside to spread awareness of a disease that affects women worldwide: breast cancer, the second most common cancer in women. While treating cancer with chemotherapy kills cancer cells, it also leaves women with unwanted side effects such as dry, irritated skin and brittle nails that may develop, lines, ridges or even darken. The effects, though temporary, can last several months.

So if you're undergoing chemotherapy, chances are, you're worried about how it will affect your looks. Rather than waiting to deal with symptoms after treatment starts, use these 13 beauty tips to minimize skin and nail problems. Be chemo chic -- manage chemo with style!

  • Check all labels! Products you used to apply to your once resilient skin and nails now need be tucked away until treatment is over. A week before treatment begins, eliminate the ones with irritants (retinol, salicylic and glycolic acids, synthetic perfumes and dyes, alcohol and menthol). If you're trying new products, be sure to do a patch test before purchasing.
  • Keep your nails short. Imperfections are more noticeable in long nails.
  • Don't cut your cuticles. Use cuticle remover (Blue Cross, 5.99) and gently push your nails back with an orangewood stick
  • Apply cuticle cream (Burt's Bees Lemon Butter, 5.99) into the cuticle area daily to prevent dryness, splitting and hangnails.
  • Wear a nail strengthener, not a hardener (Orly Nail Defense, 8.99) under your polish to keep your nails strong.
  • Remove polish with a non-acetone-remover (Priti NYC,13). Acetone, while powerful and best at removing polish, is harsh and very drying to nails, cuticles and skin.
  • If you're getting a professional manicure done, take your own implements. Many salon sanitation practices are sub-par. You don't want to risk picking up any germs.
  • Don't have acrylic or hard gel sets done. Nail enhancements can trap bacteria that may cause infection.
  • Keep your skin hydrated with a moisturizer with at least an SPF of 30. (Eucerin Daily Protection, 6)
  • Use blush and bronzer (Physicians Formula BB All in 1 Bronzer Blush, 8.99). They add a healthy glow and help to even out your skin tone.
  • Avoid eyelash extensions as the adhesive may irritate your eyes.
  • Enroll in a free Look Good Feel Better program. You get fantastic beauty tips and the chance to meet other women going through the same thing. A boost of confidence, goodie bags and support wrapped all in one!
  • Alert your doctor to any signs of infection or inflammation.

Finding yourself in the world of breast cancer can happen instantly. The doctor tells you or someone you love, that it's cancer and things suddenly change. How do you navigate through this sickness and still take care of your family? How do your support your loved one going through a tough, scary time?

Breast cancer patient:
Be patient and take care of yourself.Some women are able to work throughout their chemo treatment, while others stop working altogether. If you take time off and then go back to work after your treatment ends, you may find that working helps to maintain your identity and even boosts your self-esteem.

Breast cancer patient supporter:
Be respectful and support any decision she makes (lumpectomy and radiation, mastectomy, shaving her head and not wearing a wig, etc.) without judgement. Assure her that you love her and that her health and safety come first.

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Kenyatta is the founder of Polished Personas, an agency that teaches ambitious young professionals how to look good, be confident and make moves. Your confidence is your own to develop.If you need help,click here now for 15 game changing confidence boosters.

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