How do you care for your skin when going through cancer? – Natural Self

How do you care for your skin when going through cancer?

You may know someone in your circle that’s, unfortunately, suffering from cancer. Patients dealing with this disease have to undergo serious treatments and the medication can take a heavy toll on your body, but on the skin as well. Understandably; when getting this diagnosis skin care will not be the first thing going through your mind, but nevertheless it’s important to keep caring for yourself before, during and after treatments. So that’s why I want to dedicate this final week of World Breast Cancer Prevention Month to answering all questions you may have on our blog!

What does a treatment do to your skin?

Going through cancer doesn’t just result in emotional damage, but this disease will leave its marks on your body as well. Chemo or other invasive medications will have a big impact on your skin. This medication is specifically designed to fight off cancer cells but that doesn’t mean it won’t have any effect on healthy cells either. Think of hair and skin cells. That’s the reason why many patients lose their hair and suffer from skin conditions. The skin gets incredibly dry during these treatments, extra sensitivity and lacerations or irritations can also occur. The skin can also start showing scaling. This feeling is far from comfortable and everyone wants to look their best of course… It may not be visible to the naked eye, but a patient’s skin can oftentimes be inflamed. But luckily with the right care you can soften the impact of these pesky annoyances.

Tips for skin care

It’s important to take care of your skin, before, during and after treatments. In preparation of a treatment you should focus on strengthening your skin’s barrier to keep it healthy and hydrated. It’s important to take care of your skin during and after treatments! So I’ll be giving you some tips:

  • Cleanse your skin using lukewarm water, never use regular soap as it dries out your skin. Use a mild and natural cleanser, in the mornings as well as the evenings.

  • Use a day or night cream on your skin daily to keep it flexible and hydrated.

  • Avoid using products that contain a high amount of alcohol, they only dry your skin out. Try to avoid all other ingredients that can lead to irritations, don’t forgot to check the list of ingredients!

  • Use a sunscreen daily to protect against the sun. Your skin can be extra sensitive to the sun after treatments.

  • Drink plenty of fluids, our body is comprised of nearly 60% fluids and a healthy, hydrated skin starts from within.

Ingredients best avoided

If you can’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin! The most important piece of advice I could offer. But finding a suitable product isn’t easy… The problem is that so many brands of skin care promise you things they could never hope to match. Next to that, if you take a look at the list of the ingredients they use, you’d be surprised at the amount of harmful ingredients. Generally speaking, here are some of the ingredients you’re better of avoiding:


Parabens can be found in cosmetics and skin care products. Why? Because parabens are conservants that make sure your products can be kept for a longer amount of time. They’re cheap and fight off several sorts of molds and bacteria. But the last few years a link has been established between parabens and cancer. Research from 1998 concluded that parabens mimic natural oestrogen. But to say something with absolute certainty, further research would be required. Nevertheless, it’s better to prevent than to cure, so avoid parabens such as methyl parabens, ethyl parabens, propyl parabens, butyl parabens and isobutyl parabens.


2. SLS (Sodium Laureth Sulfate)

A lot of people think cleansing products with a higher amount of foam work better. But that’s simply not true. SLS is a superficial active substance, combined with water it dilutes oils and fats. Yes it may do its job as a cleansing products, but besides removing fat and dirt it also affects the skin and can damage the skin’s barrier. This can often lead to dry and scaly skin.


3. Phthalates

Phthalates are softeners, used to make plastic flexible. They’re endocrine disruptors used to colorize and stabilize perfumes. There are different sorts of phthalates: Diethyl phthalate (DEP), Di (iso-nonyl) phthalate (DiNP), Di (2-ethylhexyl) adipate (DEHA), Butyl benzyl phthalate (BBP), (…)

Other synthetic dye’s or scents such as PABA, Propylene glycol, Methyl nicotinate are best avoided. Always read the labels before testing new products!


Good ingredients

So now that we’ve established some of the ingredients you’d be better of avoiding, let’s talk about some ingredients that can actually enforce your skin’s natural barrier. But be careful: not all natural ingredients are exclusively healthy, so choose ingredients known for their proven benefits:

  • Antioxidants such as vitamin E, C, feralic acid, polyfens and phytosterols. These substances combat free radicals and premature aging.

  • anti inflammatories such as allantoin and vitamin A, D, E stimulate the healing process and counter skin irritations.

  • Healing ingredients such as cinnamic acid, fatty acids, sterols and squalene that protect the skin against harmful external influences. They enforce the skin’s barrier and keep the skin hydrated.

  • Glycerine makes sure the skin stays hydrated.

SELF: mild and entirely natural

SELF’s products are 100% natural and completely free of parabens, synthetic additives or any other harmful substances. The origin of SELF can be traced back to my very own search for natural products to combat my daughters problematic skin. I went looking for the very best ingredients Mother Nature has to offer: coconut oil, macadamia, shea butter, aloe vera, argan oil, mandarin oil and geranium. Our products are based on these ingredients as they’re stuffed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that protect and restore the skin. They hydrate the skin without any fatty after feelings!



Don’t be shy and send me any questions you have at I’ll be more than happy to answer all of your questions!

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