BEAUTY KNOWHOW: When a gentle touch is called for

It’s Breast Cancer Awareness month, so we asked experts and women who have undergone treatment for their skin saviours. These products are good to use while undergoing medication, when skin can be extra sensitive. 

Sprays that soothe

‘I work with the charity Look Good Feel Better whenever I can and the feedback is that multitasking products are best. This is because the more you layer, the more you need to handle your skin, furthering irritation,’ says facialist and eponymous brand founder Frances Prescott. ‘Facial mists cool and hydrate the skin with no touching required. Look for formulas without fragrance, alcohol, synthetic or active ingredients.’

She recommends Amly Radiance Boost Silver Rich Face Mist (from £18, amlybotanicals.co.uk) and her own Frances Prescott Tri Spritz (£45, francesprescott.com), which has omegas ‘from tigernut milk to hydrate and soothe’. She says, ‘Keep your mist in the fridge as the cool temperature will help with the itchy, hot symptoms that many patients experience [due to many cancer treatment drugs].’ 

Go super natural

For dry or distressed skin, try coconut oil or, as facialist Yvonne Martin suggests, ‘pure aloe vera from the actual plant – just take out the jelly substance in the leaves – or buy a gel’. 

Simple remedies

Experts agree that less is more. ‘Retinols, alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and peptides all have to go – if you don’t understand the ingredient’s name, it will likely be too harsh for your skin,’ advises beauty expert Alison Young. Beware of fragrance,  too. ‘You want as few ingredients as possible. I’ve found organic plant-based oils work best – for example, pure rosehip or jojoba oil from brands such as Neal’s Yard Remedies or Jane Scrivner. Use these as a cleanser and moisturiser to take your skin through this period of increased sensitivity.’

Jennifer Young Defiant Beauty Itchy Skin Oil (£17.49, shop.cancerresearchuk.org) also comes highly recommended. 

The kinder cleanse

Space NK training manager Niamh Butler advises sticking to ‘a gentle oil or balm cleanser’ and recommends Malin + Goetz Facial Cleansing Oil (£32) and Drunk Elephant Slaai Makeup- Melting Butter Cleanser (£29). We’ve also heard that Ren Rosa Centifolia No 1 Purity Cleansing Balm (£23, all spacenk.com) has served people well. 

Fuss-free haircare

Philip Kingsley No Scent No Colour Gentle Shampoo (£19.50) and Conditioner (£19.50, philipkingsley.co.uk). Specially formulated for use during cancer treatment and free of sulfates, parabens, fragrances and colour. Our tester said it was ‘amazing, gentle’ and left her hair ‘shiny for the first time in months’. 

Column by Edwina Ings-Chambers. Beauty assistant: Alice Robertson