by Jennifer Young, Founder of Beauty Despite Cancer
Coming from a scientific background, Jennifer Young is an experienced microbiologist and associate member of the Royal Society of Medicine, who decided to combine her knowledge with a passion for natural skincare and wellbeing to create her own product line, formulating skincare for cancer patients. She is also an award-winning therapist trainer, specialising in spa treatments for anyone being treated for, living with or recovering from cancer.
One of the things that I have found to be repeatedly overlooked when it comes to cancer treatment, especially for women, is the profound impact it can have on skin, nails and hair, and the knock-on effect it has on your emotional wellbeing. Being told you can no longer use your usual skincare, whilst facing the common side effects of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery, can undermine your sense of self and confidence. Yet somehow, so many women feel that these are not things that they have a right to worry about in the wake of something as big as a cancer diagnosis. You are not the only one and you have every right to want to find ways of addressing these areas of concern.
‘Is it just me?’
'Women don’t stop being women when they are diagnosed with cancer' is something I often find myself saying this as a way of explaining why I started Beauty Despite Cancer and why I created the Defiant Beauty skincare and beauty collections for cancer patients.
You didn’t stop being a woman when you were diagnosed with cancer, but you may feel that you stopped being treated like one. Due to the skin sensitivity that many cancer treatments can cause, someone told you to avoid certain ingredients in cosmetics but you’re not entirely sure what they are and which products they are in.
That’s both upsetting and inconvenient. It means you no longer feel as though you can enjoy your morning routine; the luxurious, delicately fragranced, beautifully wrapped serums, lotions and potions you love so much have replaced by thick white gloopy cream from a plastic pump-topped dispenser. How glamorous.
To make matters worse, your skin isn’t your skin anymore. It’s itchy and sore and it reacts angrily when you apply your favourite moisturiser. Losing your hair and feeling poorly, you were prepared for, but no one mentioned the impact on your skin was a possibility. They didn’t mention what could happen your nails either. I hear this all the time from cancer patients, each one thinking that the brittleness or even nail loss is just them.
It was being told of all these extra burdens carried by cancer patients that gave me the motivation to create the Defiant Beauty Skincare Collections
“Through all the emotional ups and downs of going through cancer and all the side effects of chemotherapy it can be difficult to keep yourself feeling human. My skin has felt so rough and dry, I get small pimples everywhere after infusions, bags under my eyes from sleepless nights caused by the medical menopausal night sweats, chapped lips and just an overall dullness. A small saving grace for me during this time has been my skincare routine. Not only does it revitalise my complexion, but the act of pampering myself brings a sense of joy and control. I love nothing more than to sit with a facemask on in the bath or massage oils into my skin whilst diffusing essential oils. I love to use natural skincare products, it’s really important to me that my skin is nourished without added chemicals. Jennifer Young’s products are all natural but most importantly they’re made with us in mind.” – Keely, @pookys_page
Creating a skincare line dedicated for cancer patients
Back in 2013, a group of patients and ex-patients from my local hospital asked me to work with them to develop a skincare range to address these issues. The staff joined in and the Defiant Beauty skincare range was the result. Skincare was just the beginning – more products have followed – all at the request of cancer patients, charities or support groups. We now not only have product ranges for those going through cancer treatment, but we have also Beyond Beauty for those who have finished treatment, or are in remission, and to address some of the emotional needs of patients, we have the Well Being Beauty range.
No matter what is going on in life, we want to help women out there feel like themselves. The new collections are created using the same ingredients criteria set out by the NHS team that we worked with initially, and we continuously review and respond to the needs of our customers and the feedback we get. Our goal is to create products that are enjoyable to use and that actually work on these lesser discussed side effects of cancer.
“I chose to use the Defiant Beauty Face and Body Collection because I loved the way they were made specifically for cancer patients undergoing treatment. As somebody who has undergone cancer treatment, I know only too well the effects this can have on your skin. I love the way in which the products are made with natural ingredients, as this is so important when your skin has suffered so much.” – Leah, @blessedwithcancer
Life didn’t stop with your cancer diagnosis, and you didn’t stop being you either.
These are a collection of blogs written by other cancer patients, survivors, friends and family as well as wellbeing and health therapists who wanted to share their expertise to help inspire and encourage us with recovery and healing. Over the last thirteen years I have put a lot of time and focus into my own self care and I have explored many activities and products that I wanted to share, so I have written a few too! Enjoy xx