Wednesday, 27 January 2021 10:50

Proper Protocols for Compromised Skin and Oncology Esthetics

Written by   Lydia Sarfati

Compromised skin can affect a large group of the population, including oncology patients. According to the American Cancer Society, in 2020, there will be an estimated 1.8 million new cancer cases diagnosed.1Among complaints, cancer patients can experience dry skin, hand and foot skin reaction, and dermatitis.2

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Oncology patients can alsopsychologically suffer from their condition, as well and aestheticians can impact these patients in a positive way.One Italian study found 88% of female cancer patients had a significant reduction in depressive symptoms, anxiety, and body image issues, as well as an improvement in self-esteem levels.3

It is for this reason that oncology aesthetics is an emerging field. Proper training and certification is essential to the practice of oncology esthetics. Certification in oncology aesthetics has become more readily available throughout the United States, through organizations such as Oncology Training InternationalIt is also important to remember that with oncology aesthetics, no two clients are alike. Each oncology client comes with an entirely unique set of circumstances that must be accommodated correctly in order to have a beneficial treatment.

It is particularly important to follow health and sanitation guidelines when dealing with a client who has compromised skin, especially if they are an oncology patient. Always follow the local, state, and national regulations and guidelines applicable to one’s spa or business.See the Center for Disease Control and World Health Organization websites for additional information and go to OSHA through the United States Department of Labor for the latest guidelines and documents on occupational safety during COVID-19.

In addition to using a face mask, shield, and non-latex disposable nitrile gloves, consider using additional safety equipment during the treatment, including a face screen for facials – a clear, washable screen affixed on a moveable stand that can be placed over the clients head during the treatment and adjusted to suitable heights.

More information on oncology aesthetics, as well a detailed protocolsand ingredients and products to use, is available in the textbookOncology Esthetics from Oncology Training International


A proper intake form is the key to designing a facial treatment for an oncology patient.This asks important questions such as what type of treatment they are undergoing, any side effects of the treatment, and any important concerns to be aware of such as skin sensitivity or prosthesis.

Once client is situated in the facial bed or chair, use a magnifying lamp, and analyze the skin.Take a look at the condition – whether the skin is dry, compromised, oily, or whether the client is experiencing any kind of sensitivity. 

Examine the skin correctly and have a consultation with the client.When doing a consultation, move forward and sit next to them.Always look at them and make sure they are making eye contacts as well.Make sure their ears are not blocked in any way, so they can hear and see. Very often, clients that are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation are super sensitive and might not be able to listen as attentively.It is important to have a very calming demeanor and speak clearly and slowly. Always pay attention and use proper etiquette.



Moisten cotton with a mild, seaweed-based makeup remover. This should be a neutral base eye makeup remover, which can also be used as a pre-cleanse for removing makeup from the skin.

Take two pieces of cotton that have been saturated in the mild makeup remover and place them on the eye area. Leave one of the pads on while working on the first eye. 

Gently remove the eye makeup, working downwards first, stroking through the eyelashes, then wiping under the eye. Turn pad inside out for a clean surface then repeat, going downwards on the lashes and wiping under the eye area. Dispose of the cotton and move to the other eye. Repeat on the other side. Take a dry piece of cotton and dry the area.

Use disposable brushes to apply the cleanser. Disposable brushes are a very hygienic alternative to fingers and help prevent cross contamination.These will also provide mild exfoliation.Use a gentle, non-irritating, seaweed-based cleanser and apply it the skin in very gentle, upward, and outward motions on the face and downwards on the neck – never rub. Always finish all movements at the temples. Take cotton moistened with luke-warm water to remove cleanser residue in an upward and outward motions.


Use a cleansing device, such as a Dr. Lucas Pulverizer Championniere instead of hot steam, which can irritate and inflame compromised skin. Combine distilled water with a mild hydrating seaweed and mastic water-based essence to calm, soothe, and hydrate the skin.Mastic Essence from the island of Chios in Greece has been used for centuries for the purpose of calming all types of irritation. 

Provide a Dr. Lucas Pulverizer Championniere misting for about five minutes. Apply the spray from the back, rather than from the front to prevent the spray from going up the clients nose. Use cotton to pat dry the skin with no rubbing.Be sure to have no water dripping down the neck of the client.

If the client needs additional exfoliation, use a mild alpha hydroxy acid exfoliant. Look for one that has a perfect pH a blend of mild, gentle, and effectivealpha hydroxy acids combined with seaweed and marine hydroxy acids, and is pre-measured and opened at the time of use with no cross contamination.

Open the swab and swipe on the skin in gentle strokes all over the face.Once on, use a fan to cool the skin down.Remove after five minutes with moistened cotton and water.Use a water spray bottle or repeat using the Dr. Lucas Pulverizer Championniere.

Always ask the client if they feel tingling from a scale of one to 10.Anything up to six is normal.If they are feeling tingling from eight up to 10, this is the time to remove the solution.

At this point, various forms of massage, including effleurage, a kansa wand,silver ball massage, as well as light emitting diodes, and radio frequency, or hand and foot massage can be employed in the facial.

Sheet Mask

Uni-dose, individually wrapped sheet masks are perfect for oncology patients because they are hygienic.Take scissors from the sterilizer and cut open a sheet mask packette with a mask that is saturated in calming, soothing, and hydrating aloe, seaweed, and spirulina extracts, and remove mask from inside of pouch.

Open the mask, apply to the face, remove the plastic backing, and throw the backing away. Position mask to fit correctly and place soothing eye pads saturated in soothing green tea over the eyes to reduce the appearance of puffiness and dark circles. Often the client may be experiencing extreme dryness on the lips.Use a pure essential oil containing seaweed, mastic oil, or vitamin E on this area for relief.

After 10 to 15 minutes, remove the mask by gently peeling off the skin.Hydrate with seaweed mist, then use dry cotton to dry the face, patting gently.Work with one hand and rest the other on the top of the forehead.Once the treatment is over, apply a barrier cream that combines zinc, titanium, and seaweed, which is also fragrance and water-free.

Makeup Application

Use makeup that contains seaweed extracts and minerals to finish the service, starting with a mineral based concealer, then foundation.Apply makeup with disposable sponges, and finish with a light application of lip gloss applied with a disposable brush. 

Performing this type of treatment in the proper sanitary conditions can help the oncology patient and client see themselves looking healthy and feel emotionally better after receiving a nurturing treatment.This type of practice can bring the highest level of satisfaction, both for the client and the aesthetician. 


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