A review of the Defiant Beauty Range – By Karen Bucknall

Karen Bucknall is a trainee broadcaster and journalist. She is involved in voluntary media work with various cancer and brain tumour charities. Karen has her own Facebook Blog, ‘Karen’s Cancer Journey’ where she shares her thoughts and experiences of cancer.

My cancer diagnosis and treatment

I was diagnosed in March 2019, aged 48, which came as a huge shock to myself, family and friends, despite having a family history of bowel cancer.  I am now in remission (two years in 2022) from advanced bowel cancer. My cancer spread into my lymph nodes and vagina. I had radiotherapy, surgery, a stoma and will wear colostomy bags for the rest of my life. I also endured six long months of chemotherapy and mobile chemotherapy. I developed sepsis half way through my chemotherapy, and every so often have flare ups of sepsis rash.

In November 2021, I was diagnosed with a low-grade brain tumour; an Acoustic Neuroma. I recently had an MRI brain scan and await the results and what happens next. Whether it’s surgery, medication or to go on clinical trails.

I have also been told that I have two cancer markings on my liver. Finding this out upset me. Every three months, I have a CT scan and bloods taken, to make sure my cancer doesn’t come back.

Having worked for 35 years in Travel and Tourism and Aviation, I have always taken great pride in my appearance, and skincare. My very long mid brown hair, is my pride and joy.  I have very expressive green cat’s eyes, and a warm and friendly smile. During my chemotherapy, I could be seen in my chemotherapy chair, painting my nails, or pampering myself with my hand lotion.

Find nurturing nail care and nail colours for use during cancer treatment.


Six weeks after my bowel cancer surgery, I got back into my skinny jeans and faux leather trousers. I wasn’t going to wear elasticated waist wide leg trousers, just because I wear a colostomy bag. I like to follow fashion, and love the Autumn shades. I also love scarves, and my jewellery and hair accessories and everything has to blend in well together.

People often remark that I look younger than 51, which is nice. I am proud of all that I’ve been through, and my positive thinking. I like helping and supporting people, whose parade got rained on too. It’s all about learning to dance in the rain. 

Trying out some Jennifer Young skincare during cancer treatment 

I tested some of the Jennifer Young products over two weeks, and whilst on a mini break in Cornwall. Here are my reviews - an honest and open account.

I have taken some photos of me using the beauty products and the effect they had on my skin. I haven’t worn my foundation, powder or powdered blusher since using the products as I’m enjoying the healthy and glowing skin look. Family and friends say, whilst using the Jennifer Young products and going without make-up, that my skin looks better, healthier and has taken a few years off my look.

1. Defiant Beauty Cool and Refresh Spray

I loved this product from the very first time I used it.  It is very cool and refreshing and reminds me of a spring meadow.

I suffer from persistent sepsis rash, caused by chemotherapy, under my boobs, tummy, groin area and back of knees. Often it is red, angry, uncomfortable and sore. This spray was like a breath of fresh air to my heated and sometimes weeping skin. It cooled down my rash immediately, leaving me feeling refreshed and not in so much discomfort and pain. It also made me feel very feminine, because my paraffin-based skin cream for the rash, smells horrible and I always like to smell nice.

During my long overnight coach journey from London to Penzance, on board a heated and stuffy coach, this spray kept me refreshed and kept my face hydrated. The spritz stopped my skin from drying out, because I had to wear my face mask, throughout the long 10-hour journey. It was a lovely smell, and helped me drift in and out of sleep as we travelled down the motorway.  Through using the spray on my epic coach journey, I dreamed of happily dancing across a spring meadow of bright flowers, with the most amazing and vibrant sun rises and sunsets.

2. Defiant Beauty Cleanse and Moisture

I have very dry and blotchy skin with red veins, and due to lack of sleep through illness, and disturbed nights, I have constant purple bags under my eyes. I get flare ups and put extra thick foundation, concealer and powder on to hide this. Which doesn’t help my skin, and makes me look older. I also have very dull skin, as it has lost its glow since having cancer.  With having a low-grade brain tumour, I have swollen face and neck. I get constant headaches and ear and jaw pain, sometimes make up can hide the agony and pain really going through.

The Defiant Beauty Cleanse and Moisture balm is light and non-greasy. Applying it felt like putting soft velvet on my face. It felt soothing and it was a luxurious experience, a true pampering experience.  By investing time and energy into my face, enjoying it and repairing some of the damage caused by the cancer, harsh treatments and being really poorly, my skin began to feel soft to the touch, and it made my skin feel alive again, ready to take on the day and its many challenges.

It made my skin feel refreshed and heavenly. My skin felt rehydrated and within half hour looked healthy and radiant; glowing again. I haven’t seen my skin looking that good in ages! It increased my self-confidence and I felt pretty and young again.

When I travelled by National Express coach, from London Victoria to Penzance, I wore no make up, and applied this cream before the long ten-hour coach journey. I looked glowy and radiant onboard the coach. One of the coach drivers, remarked on my skin and hair, saying we don’t often get pretty, adventurous woman on-board our coach, and he kept giving me the eye. Which made me feel nice, as a woman with cancer, who wears a colostomy bag, and with an Acoustic Neuroma brain tumour. I am used to being rejected and seen as a freak, not a sexy woman. ‘Forever the friend, never the girl friend’ syndrome. I finished that night with a sense of achievement that I had traveled overnight by coach from London to Penzance, as a solo female passenger and got a bit of male attention, which doesn’t happen very often.

3. Defiant Beauty Mild Mint Foot Balm

Since having cancer, going through radiotherapy, surgery and chemotherapy, my feet have become the bane of my life. They have never been quite the same since having cancer, they have changed shape, squarer and more swollen, my toes are now a little porkier and slightly deformed too. After nearly three years of cancer treatments, I still have numbness and tingling in my feet. My neurologist thinks this could also be linked to my low-grade brain tumour, and I have been diagnosed with drop foot syndrome too.

With often dry and cracked heels, brittle toe nails, that have turned slightly yellow with age and over time using harsh nail remover and nail varnishes, my feet are not pretty and not my best feature. I would go as far to say, I am so ashamed and embarrassed of them, and often hide them away in my ankle boots or trainers. I would love to wear sandals again. 

When I tried the Defiant Beauty Mild Mint Foot Balm, I found it like all Jennifer Young beauty products, very natural and uplifting, and I really enjoyed the sense of pampering myself. You can use a little or a lot, and I love the mild mint aroma, it brightens up my mood. It reminds me of a Spring day out in the countryside, in the daffodil fields with all the signs of new renewed hope. It was light, refreshing and rejuvenating. My feet really appreciated this balm, and liked the attention that they were now receiving.

After applying it to my feet, and massaging into my skin, and individual toes, it made my feet look different, in a good way. My feet looked pretty, and soft to the touch. My cracked heels had gone and after applying my purple glitter nail varnish, I was very proud of my feet, and no longer ashamed or embarrassed of them.

Every other day, I apply this foot balm, re connecting with my feet, learning to love them again, and embracing the brave, strong and resilient post cancer woman I have become today.



Conclusion: what I think about Jennifer Young skincare 

I really enjoyed using the Jennifer Young products. They gave me a sense of luxury and indulgence, investing time in my skin care, and foot-care. Since having cancer, I have had super sensitive skin, and have only been able to use E45 cream, prescribed paraffin cream for my sepsis and ‘Simple’ skincare and shower gels. It is very frustrating for me, and was getting bored using these bland products and brands, which often left me feeling and smelling like a chemist or medical laboratory.

Jennifer Young Products, are like a breath of fresh air; with the   possibility of a new beauty care regime for 2022.  It is wonderful using products that understand what I have been through, and the skin damage caused by having cancer and undergoing cancer treatments.

For me it’s all about investing in myself, to make sure I look my very best as I go back to work in early 2022, starting a new career as a trainee broadcaster and journalist, and cancer campaigner and activist.

I like the fact it’s specialist beauty care for cancer patients and those in remission from cancer. That it is lab tested, 100% natural, cruelty free, and made in the U.K., and a product and brand that you can trust and with friendly staff to help and support you.

I will definitely use these products again and look forward to using other products to.

Oncology skincare products I would like to try in the future

I feel like my hands have aged through having cancer. I feel like I have old woman’s hands now. Sometimes they look swollen and my wrists look swollen too.

My nails since chemotherapy, have become brittle and often chip. I use glitter nail varnish to hide the ridges and unhealthiness of my nails, which I don’t mind, because I am a right glitter babe at heart.

Nearly two years on, my hands still feel numb and tingly. I am very clumsy because I can’t grip very well, and often drop things. Which does get to me.

With my cancer and brain tumour journey, it’s all about looking good, and feeling great, and not letting the cancer / brain tumour win. It’s about being resilient, and always looking for sunrises and sunsets, that cheer me up, and a gift from above, to remind me to bravely carry on, and my motto is onwards and upwards.

 Karen shares her experiences on her Facebook Page Karen's Cancer Journey.




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