Caring for your facial skin during cancer treatment | Cancer Research UK
Cancer Research UK on Google+ Cancer Research UK on Facebook Cancer Research UK on Twitter

Caring for your facial skin during cancer treatment

When you are having treatment for cancer it may make your skin feel different and look less bright. This page has


A video showing how to care for your skin

This video tells you how to look after your skin when you have cancer. You can give it a boost and help you to feel more like you.

View a transcript of this video. (Opens in a new window)


Tips about caring for your facial skin

It really helps to have a skin care routine, morning and evening. Cleanse, tone, then moisturise.  

Choose products for your skin type. Remember that your skin may become drier during treatment. Choose gentle products or those for sensitive skin. Staff on shop make up counters can help you with this. Also try to choose products

  • Within your price range
  • That feel good on your skin
  • That you like the smell of

During treatment some people find they are sensitive to particular smells. Some may even make you feel sick. So unperfumed or lightly perfumed products may be best.

Skin care products vary in price and you don’t have to buy expensive ones. Supermarkets may have special deals and make up counters in large chemists or department stores may be able to give you samples you can try before you buy. To compare ranges, look at websites for feedback from people using them.


Where to get advice

Although make up counters can feel a bit daunting, they can give helpful advice.  You can always go with a friend for added confidence.

Some companies offer free facials or make overs. Others may charge but give you back the cost if you buy any of their products. Ask the staff to write down the products for your skin type and the order they used them in.

Do tell the make up counter staff that you are having cancer treatment, or that your skin is particularly sensitive, before they start. And don’t give in to sales pressure!  Tell them that you want to see how your skin responds before you buy.


How to extend your skin care

To brighten your skin and keep it in good condition you can use serums, exfoliators or face masks.

Check with your doctor or specialist nurse before using any of these skin care products if you

  • Are still having cancer treatment
  • Have had treatment to your face or neck
  • Have had a skin reaction

Serums are designed to treat the lower layers of the skin. Use them sparingly and pat gently onto the skin before you apply your moisturiser. Choose one for your skin type.

Exfoliation helps to remove dead skin cells, brightens your complexion and helps your skin absorb serums and moisturisers. Apply a small amount of exfoliator to damp skin, avoiding the eye area. Remove it with a soft wet face cloth or wash it off in the shower. Use twice a week after cleansing, or once a week if your skin is sensitive.

Face masks can be used once or twice a week. Creamy masks help to hydrate and are good for dry or mature skins. Clay masks draw out impurities and are better for oily skins. You can remove some hydrating masks with a tissue after only eight minutes. Then you tone and moisturise as normal. Or you can use an overnight mask. Just put it on a few minutes before you go to bed.

Rate this page:
Submit rating


Rated 2 out of 5 based on 3 votes
Rate this page
Rate this page for no comments box
Please enter feedback to continue submitting
Send feedback
Question about cancer? Contact our information nurse team

No Error

Updated: 31 March 2014