This month beauty professional Teresa Lopuchin offers tips and advice on how to brighten and define the eye area during cancer treatment. Teresa is a longtime Look Good…Feel Better® volunteer, and her steadfast commitment to the program has had a positive impact on the lives of thousands of female cancer patients. “I am dedicated to helping women maintain their dignity and continue to see themselves as women and not as cancer victims,” says Lopuchin. One way in which she does this is by sharing her expertise as a professional makeup artist and self-proclaimed “Eyebrow Queen.”
Eyes are truly a mirror to the soul. Not only do they allow us to have sight but they are also an important facial feature. Eyes help us express emotion and can be a telltale sign of how much sleep we get each night. Eyes can also reveal the status of our health, which at no time is more evident than during the treatment of cancer.
Having been a volunteer with the Look Good…Feel Better program for the past 18 years, I have seen the effects that chemotherapy and radiation can have on a woman’s self-image as a result of the appearance-related side effects that can accompany treatment. One of the most devastating effects that many women encounter while undergoing cancer treatment is the loss of their eyebrows and eyelashes. Brows and lashes add definition and depth to the eyes and to the entire face. When they become sparse or disappear altogether, women in cancer treatment sometimes feel that the ravages of the disease are robbing them of their own familiar image.
With this idea in mind, here are some tips on how to camouflage the loss of eyebrows and eyelashes and add color and depth to your eyes during cancer treatment so that you can literally look good and feel better!
Eyebrows help balance the eyes and flatter all other facial features. Because of your treatment, you may need to fill in thinning brows or re-create your brows entirely. Whatever your need, the trick is to find your natural eyebrow arch and use short feathery strokes for a natural look. A close-up photo of yourself, taken before treatment, is a big help.
To re-create your natural brow line:
- Buy brush-on eyebrow color or a pencil in a shade that matches your current hair color or wig color—or just slightly darker. Because eyebrow color does vary, choose what feels most appropriate for you. For a more natural look, you may want to invest in two colors of eyebrow pencil, a light shade and a darker shade, so that you can use alternating colors as you draw or fill in your eyebrows. Be sure to start with foundation and powder to prevent smudging.
- Hold the pencil straight up against your nose, parallel to the inside corner of your eyes. This is where the eyebrow should begin. Draw a dot just above the brow bone.
- Looking straight ahead, place the pencil parallel to the outside edge of the colored part of your eye. Place a dot where the highest point of the brow line should be.
- To define the outside edge of the brow, place the pencil diagonally from the bottom corner of your nose past the outside corner of your eye and draw a dot. Be sure the outer edge of the brow is not lower than the inside edge as this will create a down-turned expression.
- Once you have the basic shape right, connect the three dots using short, feathery, upward strokes to simulate the look of hair. Make the brow fuller on the inside corner and taper the brow naturally to the end. Use a small brush to gently blend and soften. Finally, apply the lightest dusting of loose powder to set the pencil, if desired.
With practice, drawing an eyebrow is as simple as applying lipstick!
Using eye shadow is a quick and easy way to brighten your eyes. It is important to choose neutral, matte eye-shadow shades. Apply a lighter shade (or highlighter) just below the arch of the brow. The lid color, which is the primary accent color, should be swept across the entire lid. To emphasize the natural eye shape, add a deeper or contouring shade in the crease, moving to the outer corner of the lid and back in along the lash line to the pupil. Be sure to blend well to soften the effect.
During treatment you may lose some or all of your eyelashes. Eyeliner can be used to create the illusion of full lashes by defining the lash line. Here are a few simple steps to help you achieve this look:
- Using liquid or pencil eyeliner, draw small dots along the base of the eyelid. The dots should be slightly larger going toward the outer corner of the eye and become smaller toward the inner corner; this will help create the look of lashes.
- Starting from the outer corner of the eye, connect the dots at the very base of the lash line, keeping some distinction between the dots and the line.
- Use a cotton swab to gently blend the effect. You can also smudge eye shadow over the eyeliner to soften the look and make it last longer.
Restoring a lush look to thinning lashes can be accomplished using mascara. Apply it first to the topside of the upper lashes, then to the underside. Brush the tip of the mascara wand lightly back and forth across the lower lashes. Always remove mascara completely each night with a gentle makeup remover.
Because mascara is used close to the eye, it requires extra attention. This is especially true because it can become contaminated with bacteria. For this reason, it is a good idea to replace mascara when treatment begins. With regular use mascara should be replaced every three months; but consider replacing it each month you are undergoing treatment to avoid potential eye infections. If you do develop an eye infection, discontinue use immediately. Also, never pump the wand in the tube; it’s unnecessary for application and only dries out the mascara. A simple twist should be enough. And never rinse mascara wands in water or add water to the tube.
It’s important to keep in mind that the loss of eyebrows and eyelashes due to cancer treatment is only temporary—they will grow back. In the meantime, by following these few simple steps and practicing a bit, you can have bright, beautiful, and well-defined eyes during your treatment and beyond.
Look Good…Feel Better is a collaboration of the Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association Foundation, the American Cancer Society, and the National Cosmetology Association. Women undergoing treatment interested in attending an LGFB workshop can find a local session by visiting www.lookgoodfeelbetter.org, calling (800) 395-LOOK , or contacting the local chapter of the American Cancer Society.
Teresa Lopuchin, a licensed esthetician, has extensive experience as a beauty professional. A native New Yorker, she graduated from the School of Visual Arts, worked for the Elizabeth Arden Salon, and then became a national trainer for Lancôme. After working for Lancôme, she became the regional makeup artist for Chanel. Currently, she works as the regional makeup artist for Trish McEvoy Cosmetics and has started an image consulting business. She has been a volunteer with Look Good…Feel Better since the program’s inception in 1989.