Makeup Step-by-Step

Experiencing skin, facial and nail changes during cancer treatment? You can still be yourself.

In this section, you will find a step-by-step guide to makeup and skin care. Additional information is available in our brochure and at any Look Good Feel Better workshop.

We look forward to helping you look your best.

Step-by-Step Guides

Skincare: Cleansing
Developing dry or sensitive skin during chemotherapy and radiation is common – and may require changes in your daily skincare routine. Follow the steps below, treating your skin as gently as possible.

Cleanse & Tone

  • Cleanse morning and evening with lukewarm water and a creamy cleanser or mild soap that is easy to rinse off.
  • Follow with a mild, alcohol-free toner to refresh your skin and remove excess cleanser.
Skincare: Moisturize

Developing dry or sensitive skin during chemotherapy and radiation is common – and may require changes in your daily skincare routine. Follow the steps below, treating your skin as gently as possible.


  • Choose the appropriate moisturizer according to your skin type or special needs during chemotherapy or radiation treatment. You may find that you need something richer than usual, such as a cream rather than a lotion.
  • Choose a moisturizer with an SPF of 15 or higher.
  • Use as often as needed to hydrate the skin. Keep a travel-sized moisturizer in your purse if your skin is particularly dry.
  • Add an eye cream to your skincare routine to treat dryness, dark circles, and puffiness.
Skincare During Treatment
Cancer treatment can increase your vulnerability to infection – do your best to make hygiene a high priority and take a look at the following skincare considerations.

Chemotherapy Skin Care Tips

  • Do not stay in the sun for more than a few minutes. Always wear sunscreen that has an SPF of 15 or higher, unless your doctor tells you otherwise.
  • Do not use any type of hormone creams, such as products with hydrocortisone.
  • Talk with a beauty professional or Look Good Feel Better cosmetologist about other ways to take care of your skin during treatment.

Radiation Skin Care Tips

  • Leave all skin markings made by you doctor or radiation therapist. Many of these will fade over time.
  • Wash the treated area with warm water, not soap or cream, and gently pat to dry.
  • Tell your doctor if you notice any signs of infection, such as redness, irritation, or puffiness.
  • If your treatment area becomes itchy, sprinkle a little cornstarch on the area, avoid scratching, and consult your doctor or radiation therapist.
  • Consult your doctor before using concealer to cover pigment changes such as redness or tanning during treatment. Your skin should return to its usual color once the treatment ends.
  • Ask your doctor before applying sunscreen, cream, lotion, perfume, deodorant, or any other cosmetic to the treated area.
  • Do not use heating pads or ice packs on the treated area.
  • Avoid shaving the treated area until your skin has healed. If you must shave, use an electric razor.
  • Consult your doctor about ways to address lingering redness, dryness, itchiness, or sensitivity after your treatment ends.
Concealer instantly helps correct the look of blemishes and other changes in your skin. It can be worn under foundation to hide dark circles and other discolorations – and kept on hand for quick touch-ups.

Concealer Application Tips

  • Choose a color slightly lighter than your skin tone. Get help from a local beauty professional or Look Good Feel Better cosmetologist if you don’t already have a shade that works or if choosing becomes tricky.
  • Choose a stick or creamy formula to avoid drying your skin.
  • Dot concealer where needed and use your fingertips to pat and blend into the skin. Follow with your favorite foundation.
  • If concealer isn’t enough to hide your dark circles, consider using a color corrector. Choose a pinkish shade to neutralize pink-blue circles. Use a peach-toned corrector to camouflage darker, purple or brown circles.
  • Make sure to check with your doctor before applying concealer to treated or healing areas.
Foundation is the best way to create a healthy, even skin tone – particularly if you feel pale or sallow. If you don’t normally wear foundation, a tinted moisturizer is a good alternative.

Foundation Application Tips

  • Swatch a few shades onto your cheek or jawline – the shade that disappears is the one for you. Make sure to do this in natural light. If you’re in a department store, this may entail stepping outside with a hand-held mirror.
  • Get help from a local beauty professional or a Look Good Feel Better cosmetologist if you don’t already have a shade that works, or if choosing becomes tricky.
  • Try a liquid, cream, or moisturizing formula if your skin feels dry or dehydrated. It will also be easier to blend into delicate skin.
  • Dot foundation on your forehead, cheeks, chin, and nose and blend with a wedge-shaped sponge or clean fingertips. A foundation brush is a great also a great option, especially for fuller coverage.

Powder Application Tips

  • Dust oilier skin with a translucent or light-colored loose powder to set your makeup and help control shine.
  • Use pressed powder for touch-ups throughout the day.
  • Skip powder if your skin is dry.
Nothing looks more vibrant than a seemingly natural glow. Blush is one of the easiest ways to start looking healthier – and it takes moments to achieve.

Blush Application Tips

  • Find a powder blush in a shade that complements your skin tone: subtle rose for light skin, rose/subtle plum for medium skin, or deep rose/plum/bronze for dark skin. You might already have one that works.
  • Sweep blush over your cheekbones and toward your ears. A great way to do this is to smile at the mirror and start at the apple of your cheek.
  • Wash the brush regularly with shampoo and let it air-dry.
  • If you are puffy or feeling gaunt, try a brown-toned blush or bronzer to create contour under the cheekbones. A local beauty professional or Look Good Feel Better cosmetologist can help you find the right shade and technique to offset these changes.
There are several ways to re-create your eyebrows if they have thinned or fallen out. At first glance, these steps may seem to require the skills of a makeup artist, but they will become easier in no time. Use a photo of yourself as a guide and follow the steps below.

Eyebrow Tips & Techniques

  • Choose powder eyebrow color or an eyebrow pencil in a shade that resembles your  hair color.
  • Use the pencil to make a dot on your browbone directly above the inside corner of your eye. This is where the eyebrow should begin.
  • Place another dot on your browbone directly above the outer edge of the iris – the colored part of your eye. This dot marks the highest point of the arch.
  • Place the pencil diagonally from the bottom corner of your nose past the outside corner of your eye. Draw a small dot to define the endpoint of your eyebrow – it should be slightly higher than the inner corner.
  • Connect the dots with light, feathery strokes of color in an upward motion, tapering the shape as you come to the endpoint.
  • Gently blend and soften with an eyebrow brush or the brush end of the pencil.
  • If you need guidance, a Look Good Feel Better group will be happy to teach you firsthand.

Eyebrow Stencils

If you feel more comfortable with a clearly defined guide, you may opt for eyebrow stencils. Choose the shape that best resembles your eyebrows and fill in with the same light, feathery, upward stokes as above. Avoid the peel-and-stick type of stencils – their glue may interfere with your treatment.
Highlighting your eyes with eyeshadow will brighten, define, and emphasize the area – and take the focus away from changes in your skin tone if need be.

Eyeshadow Application Tips

  • Consider using complementary jewel tones to add warmth and vibrancy.
  • Start by sweeping the lightest shade from your lashline to just below the arch of your eyebrow.
  • Sweep the primary color across the eyelid.
  • Emphasize the shape of your eyes by using a darker shade in the crease.
  • Blend with fingertips.
Highlighting your eyes with eyeliner will brighten, define, and emphasize the area – and take the focus away from changes in your skin tone if need be.

Eyeliner Application Tips

  • Choose the color you are most comfortable with or have used in the past.
  • Use a liquid liner for the ultimate definition or a pencil for a softer effect – dark eyeshadow works equally well.
  • Draw a thin line along the upper lashline.
  • If you want to line the entire eye, draw a line along the lower lashes, avoiding the inner eye. The two lines should meet at the outer corner of your eye.
  • Do not tattoo permanent eyeliner during your treatment – it may increase your risk of infection.
Mascara is an excellent boost for thinning lashes. Use it as you usually would to restore their lushness. Choose black for intense definition or brown for a softer appearance.

Mascara Tips

  • To avoid introducing bacteria, try not to pump the wand into the tube.
  • Do not wash mascara wands in water or use water to dilute the formula.
  • Remove your mascara at night with a gentle eye-makeup remover.
  • Replace your mascara every three months.
  • Ask your doctor before applying false eyelashes – their glue may be too harsh for sensitive skin.
Lip Liner

Lip Liner Application Tips

  • Start with lip liner if you like extra definition or want to prevent your lipstick from feathering.
  • Choose a shade that matches or complements your lipstick.
  • Line from the center of your lips, moving toward the outer corners.
  • Blend.
A touch of lipstick completes any look and is the ideal way to add a bit of color if you aren’t feeling up to performing your makeup routine.

Lipstick Application Tips

  • Keep a neutral, everyday shade on hand – it should be close to natural lip color – and something with a bit more color.
  • Choose a creamy lipstick that won’t dry your lips – look for one that has moisturizing benefits.
  • Add a lip conditioner or lip balm to your regimen to treat dryness and flakiness.
Caring for Your Products
Keeping your cosmetics as free from bacteria as possible is a good idea in general, and will help you avoid infection while you’re being treated for cancer.

Product Care Tips

  • Wash your hands before applying any products.
  • Tightly close jars and tubes after use.
  • Apply lotions and creams with clean cotton balls, sponges, or cotton swabs.
  • Use clean brushes or disposable sponge-applicators to apply powder.
  • Apply foundation with a clean brush or disposable sponge. Wash the sponge with mild soap or discard.
  • Do not wash mascara wands in water or use water to dilute the formula.
  • Read and follow expiration dates.
  • Avoid sharing makeup applicators.
  • Test new products on your hands or wrists.

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