Skin Care During Cancer Treatment

Why one woman started making products specially for skin during radiation and chemotherapy
By June Kellum Fakkert, Epoch Times
September 25, 2015 6:30 am Last Updated: April 28, 2016 4:46 pm

When you have a diagnosis of cancer, one important step is to go through your personal care products and get rid of those with chemicals. Next, you need to invest in or make ones that are safe.

Cynthia Besteman was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011. When she read the labels of the “natural” products she had been using, she was shocked to find they were anything but natural.

I was using what I thought was all natural because my products said things like ‘argan oil shampoo’ or ‘coconut oil body lotion,’ but when I really read the ingredients they were less than 2 percent of the product.

— Cynthia Besteman, cancer survivor and founder of Violets Are Blue

Later she started a skin-care company Violets Are Blue to make the kind of products she wished she had while in treatment, including a line specifically for people undergoing cancer treatments. Every woman who undergoes chemo for breast cancer at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City gets a care package from this line on the first day of chemotherapy.

She explains what her journey to truly natural skin care was like and how you can take care of your skin during radiation and chemo therapy.

Epoch Times: What was it like for you trying to find products that were truly all-natural after you were diagnosed?

Cynthia Besteman: It was extremely difficult. I didn’t understand most of the ingredients in what I thought were healthy name-brand products. I was using what I thought was all-natural because my products said things like “argan oil shampoo” or “coconut oil body lotion,” but when I really read the ingredients, they were less than 2 percent of the product. I got a quick education on what I didn’t want in my products by searching the ingredient list on many products.

 

Epoch Times: What lead to your decision to make your own products?

Ms. Besteman: When I was diagnosed, I took time off work and really focused on finding something I was passionate about. I did Reiki and yoga and acupuncture all in the hopes of clicking with something I would want to make as a profession.

Funnily enough, I found a skin-care class that was starting the day after I found it, and it happened to be a few blocks from my apartment. I signed up, and from the first day, I was hooked. I loved knowing exactly what was in each bottle, and the process of making it was very meditative for me.

At the same time, I met many women who were in treatment who did not have the energy or desire to sit in the drug store reading every ingredient list. That is when I had the idea to make products for other women as well—to help them worry about one less thing during their treatment.

 

Epoch Times: We’re all aware that radiation and chemo can make hair fall out, but what kinds of changes happen to the skin? 

Ms. Besteman: You feel like your skin has aged 20 years in a matter of a few weeks. My skin never felt so dry, my lips were dry, my feet cracked, and my nails became weak. I also felt my skin was turning into elephant skin.

 

Epoch Times: Are there any smells that women typically become averse to? 

Ms. Besteman: From the women I have met, many strong smells become bothersome no matter what the scent. Also, synthetic fragrances are horrible. I have an aversion to them normally, so I can’t imagine what it is like for women whose immune system is challenged. 

 

Epoch Times: Do you have any tips for women to take care of their skin during radiation and chemotherapy?

Ms. Besteman: Yes, drink more water than you can ever imagine drinking. Eat as healthily as possible, lot’s of veggies. Go easy on coffee and alcohol (easier said than done), and use extremely nourishing, all-natural products.

 

Epoch Times: How is your line for cancer patients different from the other products you make? 

Ms. Besteman: I focus on things that happen to the skin in treatment and textures and smells women find soothing. I only use essential lavender oil, which is extremely calming, and I use just enough to cover the base oil scent.

The Beloved line is extremely nourishing and healing, packed with ingredients that combat the drying out of the skin.

My products are also helpful for nail issues, cracked feet and elbows, as well as dried hair from radiation. The facial serum brought a lot of women’s hair back to life when they applied it to the dry ends—who knew?!

I also package it in beautiful glass, no estrogen-leeching plastic for any of my products. There is also no pink involved, which many of us associate with illness. I want the women to be given something focused on health and not sickness.

 The interview has been edited for style and clarity.