Introduction - Jennifer Young Skincare

The reasons for sensitive skin are varied, for me it's connected to allergies and eczema. Choosing to use natural products which are free from synthetic ingredients may also be a priority for those having Chemotherapy. Last week I wrote about Opulentia Organic Body Oils which were formulated because the founder had gone through Chemotherapy. Today I want to introduce you to Jennifer Young who has a skincare line formulated for cancer patients. I asked Jennifer if she would like to Guest Post for me to raise more awareness about how skin is affected by cancer treatments and the products she has created.

How does treatment for cancer affect the skin?
The main types of treatment for cancer are chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery, or of course, a combination of these three. 

Chemotherapy can result in dry, sensitive, itchy and sore skin. The chemo drugs target fast replicating cells as the tumour is a collection of fast replicating cells. As the skin, hair and nails are fast replicating, the chemo drugs affect them too. The drugs are unable to differentiate between the tumour cells and, for example, skin cells, so the skin, hair, nails and the digestive system can be damaged during the treatment. This condition is sometimes referred to as chemo skin. 

Radiation Treatment is a high dose X-ray concentrated on a specific area. It has been described as really bad sun burn in that area. 

Surgery leaves a sore area with potential for scarring. 

Not all drugs have a detrimental impact on the skin and not all individuals taking drugs known to have skin and nail related side-effects suffer those side effects. However, the impact of treatment for cancer on the appearance of those going through it is so significant that patients often report their lowest point as being when they look in the mirror and no longer recognise themselves. 

Defiant Beauty
When the volunteers, staff and patients at our local NHS cancer centre asked me to create the Defiant Beauty Collection they told me of the skin, nail and hair issues associated with treatment for cancer and explained all of the conditions that are described above and some pretty gruesome conditions that I won’t trouble you with here. 

I was also told about how some skincare ingredients feed cancer. It was the lead oncology nurses that told me this, I have done the research since being told, as I had no idea that this was the case. You can learn more about this in the Beauty Despite Cancer Blog. In short, some cancers are oestrogen positive, this means that oestrogen feeds them and it is the reason why so many pre-menopausal cancer patients are put into a drug induced menopause. 

Many skin care products contain plant oestrogens and the nurse team asked that I refrain from putting plant oestrogens such as Aloe, Borage and Soy into the Defiant beauty formulations. This was difficult as the women I spoke to felt as though cancer had ravaged them and that they had aged beyond their years as a result. The plant oestrogens are known for their anti-aging properties and, had they not been so damaging in these circumstances, they would have been top of the list. 

Beauty Products for Cancer Patients 
It became clear when speaking to the fabulous folk at my local hospital that women still want beauty products to use as they go through treatment. However, they are, on the whole, denied them as they have such sensitive skin and the medical team advise them to avoid plant oestrogens. Upon diagnosis the world can become a very scary place and lots of brands that were previously enjoyed now are not trusted and cause a reaction when put on the skin. 

I felt very strongly that these women should be able to access luxurious and indulgent skincare products and so I went to work on the Defiant Beauty Collection. These products have been sold from the chemo ward at my local hospital for about 2 years (we have only recently begun to sell it online) and I have had some wonderful feedback about them. One breast cancer patient even went so far as to say that I had changed her life (as the Itchy Skin Oil soothed her scars and enabled her to tolerate her bra being next to her skin – as golf is her hobby, she needed a bra). 

The Defiant Beauty Collection has both face and body products and is formulated to soothe skin that has been damaged by treatment for cancer. We include only a small number of ingredients so that the opportunity for sensitivity is reduced and all ingredients are natural and oil-based. We don’t put water into the products to make a cream or lotion as preservatives and emulsifiers are needed as soon as water is added. The number of ingredients increases and so does the potential for a reaction. 

As I have worked with more and more patients of all ages I have realised that I need to do more. I am asked to expand the product range on an almost daily basis, so watch this space.



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