Look Good Feel Better: Makeup

wig and makeup

How do you feel good about yourself when you don’t recognize the person you see in the mirror? How do you feel beautiful as your body changes in front of your face. After surgery I found my body to be unrecognizable in many ways and after starting chemo treatment, I began to see other major changes as well. Not only do I have my surgery scars, but my skin is changing, my hair is falling out and even the cells in my mouth are revolting causing mouth sores and constantly chapped lips. My arms are covered with bruises, rashes have become the norm and I’m allergic to more things now that I have been my entire life. The one constant that helps me feel “normal” is makeup. I loved makeup before cancer, and I am loving makeup even more now. Before cancer, makeup was for fun. Sometimes it was necessary to cover those pesky blemishes or disguise dark circles, but overall it was relatively superficial. Now the value of makeup has transformed for me. I now view makeup as a tool to help women see the light at the end of the tunnel during a time of pain, weakness and insecurity. I don’t want to look like that frail, weak, cancer patient all the time and makeup gives me the power to present an image of strength and beauty. This in turn has strengthened my sense of inner beauty and improved my self-esteem. Makeup has helped me recreate the face of the person I love, me. It helps me disguise the dark circles, cover the rashes, and create that natural healthy glow that we all wish we woke up with. When my eyebrows fall out and my lashes diminish, I will not fear. Eyebrow pencils and false lashes will come to save the day. A little makeup used in the right way can make a huge difference in how you feel during this difficult time. If you don’t usually wear makeup, give it a try. Try a few new products like the staples I mention below. I promise it will help you transform your appearance and  allow your inner beauty to shine through.

The Look Good Feel Better program sponsored by the American Cancer Society is a great resource as well. Ask your treatment center if they offer Look Good Feel Better workshops. It’s an opportunity to learn some beauty techniques, get some awesome beauty products and meet other women who are struggling with the same beauty issues. Check out their website for more tips, tutorials and information.

My Everyday Makeup Routine (5 – 10 Minutes)

  • Moisturize!!!! This step is even more important during chemo because your skin will be extra dry. I love these two moisturizers: Estee Lauder & First Aid Beauty . They are hydrating but light on the skin. They are both good for sensitive skin and shouldn’t cause any breakouts. The First Aid beauty lotion has sunscreen in the formula so you can save yourself a step.                                                                                                                                                 EL cremefirst aid beauty lotion


  • Sunscreen – Your skin will be extra sensitive during chemo, so it’s important to use sunscreen on your face, neck and ears. Don’t forget the back of your neck. It’s easy to forget this area if you were used to long hair before.
  • Concealer: NARS creamy concealer  – this stuff is AMAZING. Use it to cover dark circles and skin imperfections. It is thick and it has great coverage. It will give you a nice put together look without much effort. Set the concealer with a loose powder like this one from Laura Mercier. This step is optional but will improve the lasting power of your concealer and prevent it from looking splotchy later in the day or creasing dramatically under your eyes.                                                                                                                                                   nars concealer
  • As you start to feel better, go back to work or on a special occasion, you may want a step up in coverage. On these days, I would suggest adding the NARS Sheer Glow foundation, Estee Lauder BB Glow or the Mary Kay Mineral Powders. The Estee Lauder BB cream has sunscreen in the formula, so that will save you a step. Both of the cream foundations have a natural glowing finish, which will add to that healthy glowing look you are aiming for. Set the foundation with the same powder you used to set the concealer. If you skin is very dry and flaky, you will want to skip the setting powder. The Mary Kay Powder is great for days when you want a little more coverage but a natural look. It is easy to apply and smooths out minor infections.
    • If you decide to go with a cream foundation, I suggest adding a primer to your skin after the sunscreen step. (I like this one by Tarte). The primer will help the makeup last longer and stay even throughout the day.
  • Benefit Hoola Bronzer – this will help warm up your face and bring some color and life to your skin. Sweep the bronzer in a 3 motion on each side of your face: around your temples, under your cheekbone and down your jawline. You can also add a little bronzer down the sides of your nose if you’re feeling ambitious.                                                                                                                                                                                                          bronzer imagebronzer image 2


  • Blush – add a little blush to the apples of your cheeks and sweep upward above where you applied the bronzer. This will give you that flush faced natural glow. Right now, I am loving the Buxom blushes or TheBalm blushes. If you want to add a little glow, which is great for dull dry skin during chemo, try a blush/highlighter combo like this one from Hard Candy.
  • Eyebrows – I do not leave the house without my eyebrows filled in. This is my go-to eyebrow pencil by NYX. I have listed a couple other great eyebrow products below. I have been filling in my brows for years due to over plucking as a teen. If you struggle at first don’t despair. It takes time to figure out which products work for you and how to get the shape just right for your face.  I have included an image below that will help guide you through the shaping and positioning of your brows.
    • This pomade is a little more difficult to use than the pencil, but creates a very natural brow and stays very well. Remove any concealer or foundation in the area before applying, and those brows will stay strong throughout the day.
    • This powder is great in combination with a pencil.
    • Another great eyebrow pencil is this one by Anastasia Beverly Hills. Her eyebrow products are the best around, but they are pricey. The NYX pencil is an exact dupe half the price.Eyebrow tutorial
  • Mascara – My favorites are Guerlain Maxilash, Dior Show and Estee Lauder Sumptuous Extreme. Sometimes, I will also smudge a little brown eye shadow on my lash line to define my eyes even more. This is a quick and easy step that will make you look more awake and polished.
  • Eyeshadow – This step is optional. I don’t usually do much in this department. I like to use a neutral pink base color and then a little dark brown in the crease for a natural shower. This palette is my go-to for neutrals and it has a nice base and highlighter as well. Any neutral eyeshadow will work well. Cover your eyelid in a base color even if you don’t plan to add much other eye makeup. It will give your eyes some life and make them stand out a bit from your face.                                                                                                        naked pallete
  • Lip gloss or colored lip balm – I love the Clinique chubby stick in the ‘Curvy Candy’ which is a great natural pink. Any chapstick with a little color will work well.

Final Results –  These pictures were taking during my first month of treatment (post-surgery and during during chemo) using the makeup routine explained above. It’s amazing what a little makeup and a couple fun wigs can do for your appearance. Keep an eye out for a Hair Beauty post coming soon.

NARS Sheer GlowIMG_4825wig 2post surgery makeupselfie sock bun 2makeupbeauty w wigmakeupmakeup 2










  1. Monica carper says:

    The mascaras you mentioned…are they better than Lancôme in your opinion? I have not tried them, but I’m curious. I’m liking the tips! You’re the best at makeup. 🙂

    • Anna says:

      Monica, I have tried the Lancome mascara as well, but I have to say I love these more. My newest favorite is Guarlain Volume Mascara. It’s carried at Sephora. I will have to add that one.Thanks for the blog love.

  2. Rachael Fisher says:

    Have you tried coconut oil for dry/rashy skin? I used it all the time as an aftershave lotion because I typically get razor burn really bad, but I don’t get ANY with coconut oil, it’s antimicrobial so it may also help with any kind of minor skin irritations/infections? Plus it’s sooo hydrating, even for your lips. I buy a big jug and smear it everywhere 🙂

    • Anna says:

      Rachael, I am a big coconut oil lover. The steroid creams the doctor has me on for the rashes work great but I will have to think about supplementing with coconut oil.

  3. Fredric Willford says:

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  4. Melisande Balleste says:

    I remember my look good feel better class. It was awesome experience. A great self esteem booster.

    By the way this is the best blog because of the practical advice .

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