Why Does Cancer Treatment Affect Appearance and Skin?

When asked ‘why does cancer treatment affect appearance and skin?’ I was surprised to discover that my answer was so much more than ‘chemotherapy drugs target fast replicating cells’

Of course, chemo drugs do target fast replicating cells and because skin, hair, nails, lips and the digestive tract are fast replicating, the drugs attack them too. Please read more about this on our chemo skin page. However, that is just part of the story. Of course, chemo drugs can result in chemo skin but there is the impact of menopause to consider, be it, drug induced, temporary or permanent, or a natural menopause. Then there is the stress and anxiety of diagnosis and treatment and that’s before we even get to the air conditioning/heating in hospital. Let’s not forget radiation treatment and it’s impact on the skin. I will cover all of the factors influencing aging here and then we’ll have a look at what can be done about it. It is worth reading on so you get to the happy ending. Chemo skin is covered on our chemo skin pages so I won’t cover chemo skin here.


Many women are put into an early menopause, either permanently via surgery or medication or on a temporary basis whilst treatment is underway. We ladies don’t need to have experienced menopause in order to know about its impact on skin, hair and nail health. We all know that the reduction in oestrogen levels that come with menopause can cause dry, aging skin and brittle, dull hair and nails. Many of the most popular anti-aging ingredients used in skin care products are oestrogenic oils such as soy, borage and evening primrose. These ingredients are not included in our Defiant Beauty Collection as cancer patients are advised, by their medical teams, to avoid oestrogenic oils.

Stress and Anxiety

The list of stressors is a long one and it’s not all about the health of the person who has been diagnosed. Money often becomes a concern, many patients worry about the impact of the diagnosis on the health of those around them, the psychological well-being of family and friends, a reluctance to become a burden (often this a perceived and not shared by the family), work worries and, let’s not forget, there are times when these folk don’t feel well. Again, we don’t need to be told about the impact of stress on appearance. We have all seen some people age overnight when worried and anxious. Sleep is a great rejuvenator and often sleep is denied those who are worrying.

Radiation Treatment

Radiation Treatment is like a really bad sunburn. The skin can be permanently changed by it and changes in pigmentation can occur.

The Happy Ending

OK, so, your skin is being ravaged and you can’t use any natural anti-aging products as they have plant oestrogens in them – or do they?? Not all oils known for their rejuvenating properties are oestrogenic. Our Defiant Beauty Collection does not contain oestrogenic oils but we have used oils that are associated with anti-aging and returning moisture to the skin. Our clients tell us that they get compliments about their skin, not what they were expecting at all…. ‘A friend asked me yesterday whether I've been using the balm on my face. I asked why and she said it looks much smoother....... I'm also targeting the wrinkled or wrinkling areas of my face / neck / upper chest. I'd say my crows feet have diminished and the look of my skin is better – my friends startled enquiry seems to bear that out. I'm still wrinkled, particularly in my lower face, but I'm happier with the look and feel (the quality and firmness) of my skin. The balm really seems to suit my skin so we are still best buddies - I'd even go so far as to say it's more than friendship, I'm in love…’

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