POST TRANSPLANT ROSY RED REALITY AND REQUIREMENTS:
SUNSCREEN (my own personal saga)
I could literally write an entire book on Sunscreen, Sun-Protection and the Dos and Donts post transplant. I consider myself a lab rat, and this was not the greatest idea, but I hope it helps all of you courageous cancer warriors on your journey!
Before my Bone Marrow Transplant, I wrote about my my skincare essentials for everyday use post remission chemo. Life is a bit different post-transplant and I became am a little more limited to skincare products, and more focused on finding the right sunscreen once I was finally released from within the walls of the “wild wild west.”
Sunscreen is a stem-cell transplant survivor “non-negotiable,” for at least the next 2 years. (but really, we should ALL be wearing sunscreen ALWAYS) I first started with Neutrogena Clear Skin on my Face and Supergoop on my body. Immediately my face started having reactions, it started slowly and eventually wound up looking like the below:
2 WEEKS AFTER
Alors……Supergoop seemed fine on my body, but I quickly learned that my facial skin was really more like “baby” skin and needed a break from all chemicals. I took a long 4 week break from anytime outside between the hours of 9 am and 7 pm, and also did not put anything on my face but what the Doctor prescribed. I washed with Cetaphil gentle cleanser and put Aquaphor on over the steroid (unfortunately it went too far), every night. Eventually my skin healed, and I found the right sunscreen for my face. But more specifically, I found the chemical that was making my beautiful baby skin go completely crazy. I call it the big No “O,” it was oxybenzoate. Steer Clear Survivors. I now use a Korean BB cream called Erborian on my face, that believe it or not, I bought in France last year and was able to find as one of Sephora’s “favorites.” It is also helping with my hyper-pigmentation as it contains Gingseng. 🙂 Truth is the most important ingredient in any sunscreen is Zinc Oxide, as if it does not have Zinc, you should probably re-think. This will keep your skin for being damaged by the dangerous UV rays and also for us Survivors, keep away any Sun-Induced GVHD.
Some of other Survivor “stuff,” that has really helped shield me from the Florida sun, is UPF Clothing as well as SunDots.
Because I like to walk and refuse to be a prisoner in my parent’s home because of germs, etc. I have to get out every once and while. The reality is, lathering on sunscreen is a JOB. I never realized this until now. I am Puerto Rican and Italian mainly, I have at best lathered on oil everywhere but my face over the past 32 years. Needless to say, Sunscreening-up is new to me, so with that I have other options. Thank goodness Under Armour launched and SPF +50 collection this summer. It could not have come at a better time. When I want to get outside and just refuse to slap on the sunscreen (my face is not something I can skimp on, nor should I), I throw on my SPF clothing, a light jacket, my sunhat and head out the door. The fabric is lightweight as well, this is fantastic as I am not completely drenched in sweat after being out in the blistering sun. Way to go UA. You can find these SPF essentials on UnderArmour.com.
My other new necessity that I discovered 3 months ago are my Sundots. These are Dermatologist created, tested and approved gummy-like vitamins that give you an SPF of 15. I absolutely love this, as sometimes I have not re-applied my sunscreen and worry that I will be at risk for worsening hyper-pigmentation, and/or sun-induced GVHD. This daily dose keeps me less anxious about the sun, and also gives me a chance to experiment with sun protection products without becoming the “lab rat.” You can buy these at sundots.com
(Survivors note: I reviewed the ingredients with my Doctor before taking)
My final sun-protection essential I mentioned briefly above. My Sunhat. First and foremost, Florida is 95 degrees and the UV from 10am-5pm is between 5& 10. Ie. HIGH AF. You must have a Sunhat if for anything to keep your face and hairless-head shielded from the heat of le soleil. I splurged and bought a Brixton hat at Nordstrom a few weeks back, but the $54 I spent seems so small at this point, as I wear it EVERY SINGLE DAY. Go buy yourself a nice Sunhat and shield yourself from the flambe soleil!
To find my hat visit:
Let’s be real Cancer and Chemo are not glamorous to any sense of the imagination (even my Aquarian “constantly dreaming” brain cannot quite get comfortable with Chemo), but there are ways to make it more tolerable and still keep you feeling like the fearless FEMME you are!
SKIN CARE ESSENTIALS FOR EVERYDAY USE
One of the first thing most of the Chemo attacks is your fast growing cells, this is what results in hair loss. It also severely dries out your skin, the least you can do is still have glowing and smooth skin if you are going to be hairless on your head, vraiment? I say OUI!
Here are a few essentials that kept me glowing, moisturized and comfortable throughout the chemo process:
Garnier Micellar Water I discovered with a dear friend (shout out to Sarah Klingman) before I was diagnosed. I was having severe inflammation of the skin on my cheeks as a result of the leukemia and needed a cleanser that would not irritate or dry-out my skin. However, I also needed a make-up remover as I was layering on the foundation to cover-up my rash. This cleanser is a “skin saver,” and it has become a staple in my life ever since! Go get some and make sure you buy the non-Matte version and the one that reads ALL SKIN TYPES, as I tried the Matte version once and it dried out my skin as well as caused flaking. You can find the Micellar water at any drug store, and even better if you are a Costco shopper, in bulk at a better price.
Kiehl’s Richly Hydrating Hand Creme was a gift from another fantastic friend. I did not realize how dry my hands would become during the entire Chemo process, as well as after being in a hospital which is an extremely dry climate for 30 days. This formula did the trick, it is rich in Shea Butter and Vitamin E, but my favorite part about this “Everyday Essential” is the Lavendar scent. It is soothing, calming and exactly what I needed to get through the darker days of Chemo and count recovery.
Mario Badescu Skin Care has been a part of my life since I first walked the streets as NYC girl back in 2009. However, the Rosewater spray is a MUST HAVE for any Woman. Cancer or not, a spritz of Rosewater can take your mood from a 0 to 10 in 1 spritz flat. Rosehip Oil is the highest vibrational essential oil, so it is now wonder Mario’s mixture of Rosewater, Aloe and other Herbs makes it the perfect daily uplifter. More importantly this magical melanger gives you an immediate glow with a dash of hydration. In the hospital I kept it in the drawer next to my bed, now I keep it in my purse, it is almost like a natural Perfume. WARNING: For Cancer Thrivers, you will be instantly changed into the Warrior you were meant to become with this Powerful potion, you will be glowing, gleeful and full of gratitude! 😉
LET’S TALK ABOUT LIPS
If there was one thing that really took a beating this time it was my petite pout. I tried all the “usual suspects,” Aquafor, Blistex and Carmaxx. No dice. First, I called one of my best buds, Ashley Brook Perryman, Make Artist Extraordinaire, who also happens to have the BEST lipsticks on the planet (literally). She sent me one of her lip sheers called Lip Preppy, super moisturizing with a pop of color. The others I found at the local Target and they even had a little color to help off-set my washed out complexion. Lip problem solved. See below for details….and ps. ABPMAKEUP.COM and I are getting ready to collaborate, so check back for theoneandallie lipsheer and maybe a few others for purchase.