Can You Get a Facial and Makeover on Chemotherapy? Part 1

Dr. Cynthia Bailey Chemotherapy Facial and Makeover Dr. Cynthia Bailey was on intensive chemotherapy to treat hereditary breast cancer this fall. On chemo, her normally lovely and well-cared-for skin was drier, duller, and flakier because her skin cells were not renewing themselves due to the toxic chemotherapy drugs. She wanted a makeover .

The challenge for Dr. Bailey’s makeover was that chemo patients need special precautions during any professional aesthetic service. These precautions are the norm for us at Advanced Skin Care and Dermatology. After her facial, Dr. Bailey’s skin looked great and she had no problems.

The unique chemotherapy facial concerns that Dr. Bailey wanted to address:

  • Sallow, dry, scaly, lusterless complexion from months of chemo treatments
  • Under-eye circles from the toxic chemotherapy drugs and pre-chemo cortisone infusions
  • Sensitive skin caused by Dr. Bailey’s usual sensitivity plus additional sensitivity from chemotherapy
  • Immunosuppression from chemo and increased risk for infection
  • A relaxing treatment to lift her spirits and make her feel “normal” for a while

Below, we discuss what we did for Dr. Bailey’s chemo facial and makeover and why it was safe for her to have a facial in our treatment room. The information will give you an idea of the standards that can be used during your professional skin care treatments.

The Chemotherapy Facial

Safety is our first concern with every client. It is especially important with a person who is immunosuppressed from chemotherapy.

What are the safety standards for facials?

Because of our extremely impeccable cleaning standards in the aesthetician treatment room, Dr. Bailey has been able to receive regular facials (with microdermabrasion!) while going through chemotherapy. I have detailed the hygiene precautions we take in our treatment room in the coming sections. Our hygiene precautions will give you an idea of how you can judge the cleanliness standards in the spa or treatment facility where you receive your aesthetician services. These are important facts to know for everyone, not just immunosuppressed or medically fragile clients.

DiamondTome Best Microdermabrasion in Sonoma CountyOur practice is to thoroughly sanitize everything in the room after each client and to deep clean the room at the end of every day. Our on-staff nurse and nurse’s assistant sterilize all of the stainless steel instruments we use in an autoclave after each use. That means all of our tweezers, trimming scissors, microdermabrasion wands, and stainless steel water bowls are not just sanitized, but also sterilized by medical professionals to medical standards.

All of the other instruments that cannot be run through the autoclave, such as mask brushes, rubber bowls, Clarisonic brush heads, etc., are sanitized after each use by our nurse and nurse’s assistant with a hospital-grade solution. That means every non-disposable instrument that our aestheticians use will be sanitized or sterilized by a medical professional after each use.

What other protocols are necessary for a chemotherapy facial?

In addition to the above sterilization methods, all of the disposable items we use in a treatment are promptly disposed of after touching a client.  We never reuse or “double dip” treatment products. That includes waxing supplies, makeup, makeup brushes, and skincare products. All bedding is changed after each client and is washed in accordance with State Board laws.

Our equipment is also cared for according to the highest industry standards. This is important because the nooks and crannies of equipment can harbor germs. We strictly follow the cleaning and care procedures from the manufacturer on all of our equipment, which includes our DiamondTome microdermabrasion machine, our facial steamer, wax pots, and hot towel warmer. We only use distilled water in our facial steamer to prevent mineral buildup on the steamer coils. Mineral buildup can harbor germs, a known potential hazard for an immunosuppressed client. We also clean our equipment at the end of every day as well, rather than only “when we are not busy” or “when it looks dirty.”  This level of attention to detail means that our equipment is always running optimally. This benefits all of our clients because well maintained equipment adds to the quality of every aesthetic treatment we provide at Advanced Skin Care and Dermatology.

Lastly, the products we use get the same degree of scrutiny and care as our instruments and equipment. All of the skincare products we use in the treatment room are approved by or hand-picked by Dr. Bailey. As many of you know, Dr. Bailey considers skin and fragrance allergies when picking skincare products. Many of the products we use in the treatment room are fragrance free and are suitable for intolerant skin. If a product contains a fragrance, it is naturally derived component of the active ingredients (for example our Pumpkin Enzyme Mask smells like pumpkin because that is what it is made out of, but there is no artificial pumpkin fragrance in the mask). Dr. Bailey ensures that all skin types, even the most delicate and intolerant (like the skin of a chemotherapy patient) will be able to enjoy a facial in our treatment room.

Our rigorous medical level of sanitizing and the use of treatment products designed for sensitive skin create the perfect environment for an immunosuppressed chemotherapy patient like Dr. Bailey to safely enjoy a facial treatment. Because our treatment room is in a medical office, we have access to medical-grade sterilization equipment and the product scrutiny of a dermatologist. This entire level of sanitizing and focus on hypoallergenicity is often not found at most spas or salons. The above description of our facility, however, gives you an idea of considerations you can use to evaluate a professional skin care treatment facility whether in a hotel, a corporate spa, med-spa or a small one-room operation.

What products and tools are best for a chemotherapy facial?

For Dr. Bailey’s facial, I cleansed her skin with the Clarisonic Brush, Toleriane Cleanser, and steam.

by sensitive skin Toleriane cleanser online

We performed the microdermabrasion treatment with our DiamondTome System. I soothed her skin with our 24 Carat Gold Mask (Dr. Bailey’s personal favorite), followed by a gentle massage to help lymphatic drainage. Then I applied Dr. Bailey’s favorite products, her Green Tea Antioxidant Therapy Cream and her All Natural Face and Body Butter Cream.

Green Tea Antioxidant Skin Therapy best anti-aging skin care for chemotherapy Best Natural Face and Body Butter Cream for chemotherapy


To see the types of professional skin care services that we offer in our Aesthetician Treatment Room, click here. 

To see our Aesthetician Treatment Menu, click here.

Here is the end result of Dr. Bailey’s skin after a facial. Perfectly supple and dewy for the makeup application, which we will address in Part 2!

To see the skin care products Dr. Bailey uses on her skin during her chemotherapy treatment read her post on Dermatologist’s Advice for the Best Skin Care during Chemotherapy.

best skin care servicesMaLinda, Medical Aesthetician

My passion is helping people look and feel beautiful. I have more than nine years of experience in the skincare and cosmetics industry; having worked as a makeup artist, as a makeup and skincare product specialist for a high-end department store, and as an aesthetician.

I have a bachelor’s degree in English and history, but I have found my true calling in the world of skincare. I’ve been a licensed aesthetician since 2007. I love helping my clients achieve healthy, beautiful skin and teaching them how to get the results they’re looking for on a daily basis. Everyone is beautiful with unique attributes that make them special. Finding and highlighting these attributes in a person is my passion – and it’s what I love about my career.

If you found this helpful, subscribe to my blog -- it's free. I write two articles per week on skin care and skin health and you can have them delivered to your email inbox. Get your skin care information straight from the dermatologist. Join my intelligent skin care revolution. Just enter your email address:


5 Responses to “Can You Get a Facial and Makeover on Chemotherapy? Part 1”

  1. Cura Pelle December 29, 2013 at 9:01 pm #

    Hello, beautiful lady! You look well, I’m happy to note. Would it be reasonable to deduce that it is not permissible to be on retinoids while on chemo? If it’s not too much trouble, would you indulge a curiosity for me, please?

    I read:

    In conclusion, it seems that topical application of niacinamide increases NADP levels, which in turn stimulates keratinocyte differentiation. This results in a thicker SC, which is not only associated with an improved barrier, but is also associated with greater hydration retention capacity in the SC.59

    I’m wondering, is it not a goal of retinoid therapy to thin/compact the stratum corneum? Would not the application of niacinamide work at cross purposes, then? I’m confused. Earlier in the same article, the authors said:

    In cell cultures, more rapid keratinocyte differentiation following treatment with niacinamide was established.56 In particular, it was possible to determine an influence on keratin, K1. K1 is a basic keratin synthesized mainly in the lowest layers of the stratum spinosum.

    Please elucidate, if it’s not difficult for you to engage in this activity.

    As always, wishing you the very best,

  2. Suzanne Blum December 30, 2013 at 9:08 am #

    Dear Dr. Bailey,
    In spite of the trauma you are enduring, you look as beautiful as ever.
    You will come out of this in the new year and Chris and I wish you the very best in the years to come.

    Warm regards,


  3. Kathy K December 30, 2013 at 6:40 pm #

    Dr. B. I love the bangs!!!!!! You look fabulous. Sending good wishes to you always.–Kathy

  4. Linda December 30, 2013 at 8:54 pm #

    You look gorgeous! Really, truly. Your skin is flawless, smooth, young and glowing. You are a testament to what good skincare, excellent products, research and proper, healthful procedures can do at a challenging time. Love…. the hair style! Thanks for your sharing your photos. They help us see and understand and believe what we can achieve. I’ll have to send you one of me, makeup free, we’re almost the same age I think. You’ll then feel even better about yourself! ;) Hee hee.

  5. Cynthia Bailey January 3, 2014 at 9:23 am #

    The hair is plastic! I used Coldcaps to keep some of my hair but at this point only about 10% was left giving me the not-for-public plucked chicken look. Gotta love chemo…..or not! Do love the wig style though, they really are fun to be forced to play with but they are hot and itchy.