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Cosmetologists learn the art of healing beauty

Women can show cancer patients how to look and feel better

POSTED: February 25, 2014 1:00 a.m.

Sometimes superficial things like having a good hair day or a great outfit can make people feel more hopeful.

For people battling cancer with chemotherapy and radiation treatments, hair loss and skin changes can make an already difficult situation more stressful.

To help people with cancer feel better about their appearance, the American Cancer Society and The Longstreet Clinic trained licensed beauty professionals about dealing with the patients through the Look Good Feel Better program. Six cosmetologists from the region attended the training session Monday at The Longstreet Clinic in Gainesville.

“Cancer takes everything out of you,” said Kay Kendrick, area trainer for Look Good Feel Better. “If you can keep some part of normal life, then whatever we can control is good.”

The free program for women undergoing cancer treatment teaches beauty techniques focusing on caring for sensitive skin and maintaining a positive self-image. The program has been offered in Gainesville for the past five years and is a partnership of the American Cancer Society, the Personal Care Products Council Foundation and the National Cosmetology Association.

Cindy Simmons, owner of TLC Salon in Cumming, said she decided to get involved in the program because she knows how much better a positive self-image can make a person feel. Simmons has previously volunteered her services to give haircuts to victims of domestic violence.

“I always like to use my services to help people (for) a good cause,” Simmons said.

After working as a regional makeup artist in Atlanta for a number of years, Laura Martin of Gainesville got involved because it allowed her the opportunity to use her skills to help people. Martin works as a client service supervisor at Spherion Staffing in Gainesville.

“Through this, I’ll still be able to help make people feel beautiful and stay close to home and still do my job,” Martin said. “I want to help make women feel more educated, beautiful and inspired. I want to make them feel more confident.”

Volunteers learned the program’s 12 steps to makeup application, which stress the importance of sterilization of tools to prevent infection since treatments leave immune systems weak. Volunteers also learned how to address specific concerns that cancer patients often face, such as changes in skin color, condition, hair and weight loss.

Tips include learning how to properly apply makeup to changing skin, how to fit a wig and even how to make a turban out of an old T-shirt.

The program aims to personalize the techniques all patients can use to make them feel more like themselves.

“Anything you can do to help them feel comfortable getting through this time is important,” Kendrick said.

Kendrick explained to the group the importance of protecting sensitive skin from the sun as treatments leave skin more susceptible to burns. Simple tricks like wearing an SPF foundation over the ears and covering the back of the neck with a scarf can prevent sunburns.

Some of the more popular lessons in the classes include how to draw eyebrows and eyelashes after hair loss, Kendrick said. To create the illusion of eyebrows or lashes, cosmetologists were instructed to use short “feathery” strokes along lash lines.

Kendrick encouraged the volunteers to seek out new ways of styling wigs, makeup or scarves and to stay up-to-date on trends so patients leave the program feeling better about their appearance than when they arrived.

While the makeup tips and tricks women learn in the program are helpful, patients stand to gain more through attendance.

“Women who participate in the class receive tremendous physical and emotional support,” said Jennifer Roberts, American Cancer Society patient resource navigator at Northeast Georgia Medical Center. “It’s a great way for cancer patients to take a break from treatment and build new friendships. Some women have found themselves laughing for the first time in weeks and walking away feeling refreshed and renewed not only about their appearance, but also about their outlook on life.”

Patients interested in attending a program should preregister by calling 770-297-1176 or 800-227-2345. Preregistered patients will receive a gift bag filled with donated makeup selected for their skin tone. Patients do not need a medical referral to participate in the class.


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