Day make up to help you feel better

Cancer and its treatment can change how your skin looks and feels. Wearing makeup can help you feel more confident and more like yourself when you’re having treatment.

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

  • are still having cancer treatment
  • have had treatment to your face or neck
  • have had a skin reaction

This 4 minute video shows you how to use make up to create a natural look.

Before applying make up

Don’t worry if you’re not used to wearing make up. With practise it will become easier.

It’s a good idea to buy your make up and start practicing before you start treatment. When your treatment starts, you might not have the energy for shopping. 

You can:

  • try products out before you buy them - ask the shop assistants to put the products on for you so you can see what they look like
  • check how they look in natural daylight - shop lighting can be harsh and make it look very different
  • shop around to find what suits you best

Try not to give in to sales pressure. Tell the assistant you want to see how long the product lasts, or how your skin reacts before you buy. 

Types of make up


Primers for your face and eyes help to give an even tone to your skin. They also help your make up to last longer. You might find it useful to:

  • choose a matt (non shiny) and pore minimising facial primer if you have oily skin
  • go for a brightening or illuminating primer if you have dry or more mature skin
  • choose a slightly tinted primer for a more natural look


Concealers help to cover small blemishes. You should:

  • match your concealer to your skin tone (shop assistants can help you choose the right one)
  • avoid concealers that dry to a powder finish because they sit in the lines on your face
  • choose a creamy concealer as they are easy to blend

For a natural day make up look, you can simply use a primer and then a concealer. Blend it all over the face with your fingers or a make up brush. 

Mineral make up

Mineral make up looks like a powder but acts like a foundation. It comes as loose or pressed powder and is quick and easy to put on. It gives your skin a non shiny look.

You can:

  • use mineral make up as a foundation after using primer and concealer
  • try to choose a talc free one

Colour correcting creams (CC creams)

Colour correcting creams (CC creams) moisturise your skin and give a smooth, luminous colour to your complexion. You may prefer them if your skin tends to be dry.

CC creams and other tinted moisturisers contain sunscreen to protect your skin and give a fresh natural look. 

Fixing sprays

These are also known as setting sprays. You spray these on after you have finished putting your make up on. They keep the make up in place. They are especially useful for oily and dehydrated skin to prevent the make up from moving or disappearing.

Cheeks and lips

Smile and put a small amount of blusher onto the apple of your cheeks. Blend up towards the top of your ear lobe.


  • cream blusher tends to work better if you use a creamy foundation
  • apply cream blusher with either a brush or your fingers
  • use a powder blusher if you use a matt foundation
  • apply powder blusher with a brush
  • use your cream blusher on your cheeks and lips

Your lips are likely to become dry when you are having treatment. Use a plain or tinted lip balm often and have it with you all the time so you can reapply it. 

For an extra pop of colour you can use a moisturising lipstick. 

Useful organisations

Look Good Feel Better is a charity set up by the cosmetics industry.

Volunteer beauty therapists provide skincare and make up workshops for women having cancer treatment in 130 hospitals across the UK. You also get a goodie bag. It also provides advice and support for men living with cancer.

You can find your nearest workshop and read more about the work of the charity on their website.

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