Restoring Your Skin, Hair, and Nails After Chemotherapy

Restoring your skin, hair, & nails after chemotherapy


Today I got a note from one of our readers named Wendy.  She said,


“I have breast cancer and I just got done with chemo, I was just hoping you could help me with some products that I could use for my skin and nails. Thank you!”




I have a good friend who is now half way through her treatments for breast cancer and it just breaks my heart.  It’s a shame that anyone has to go through this.  I have to say that seeing her strength, courage, and dependence on the Lord through this time is an encouragement to me.  Congratulations on staying strong and finishing chemo!!!  We all know that isn’t an easy accomplishment.  Thank you for writing and I’ll do my best to answer your question.


God Bless,




Chemo can wreck havoc on your skin, hair, and nails but there are a few things you can do to help take care of yourself before, during, or after chemo.


  • Avoid long, hot showers that dry out your skin.
  • Drink a lot of water.
  • Use creams instead of lotions.  Apply right after you shower and before bed.  Reapply cream each time after you wash your hands.
  • Massage cream into your nails and nail beds to help promote healthy cuticles and regrowth.
  • Wear gloves when you wash the dishes or are around other chemicals to avoid an infection.
  • Use an oily polish remover to avoid drying out your nails even further.
  • Avoid hand creams with alpha hydroxy or beta hydroxy acids.
  • Push back cuticles rather than cutting them.
  • If you notice an infection around your nails consult with your doctor who could give you a few different prescription options.
  • For dry brittle nails, use Nailtiques Formula 2 Plus. It goes on like a polish but it’s a nail protein.  It helps smooth ridges, stop splitting, strengthens nails and helps them grow.  You can use it daily until you get the results you want and then once a week.  It’s expensive but I personally swear by this stuff!  {I’ve also heard that Nail Envy by OPI works well.  It’s even more costly though!}
  • Because your immune system is likely to be compromised by treatment, try to avoid any injury to the nails or cuticles that might lead to infection. If you must have your nails done professionally you should make your manicurist aware of this.
  • Ask your doctor first and if allowed try taking a prenatal vitamin.  They are known to do wonders for hair and nails.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet and make sure you’re getting plenty of protein and iron.
  • If your skin is very dry, use an ammonium lactate cream to help increase moisture retention. These creams are available over-the-counter as well as by prescription.
  • Some chemotherapy drugs make skin more susceptible to sunburn. Use a sunblock with at least an SPF 30 and choose one that protects against both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Use gentle fragrance-free soaps and laundry detergent.


Here are some other great beauty resources worth checking out:

    This is a free, national public service program dedicated to teaching women cancer patients beauty techniques to help restore their appearance and self-image during cancer treatment. Trained beauty professionals teach beauty techniques in skin care, make-up, hair care and nail care. There program also includes demonstrations in the use of wigs, hats, turbans and scarf-tying techniques. Look Good Feel Better is sponsored by the Cosmetic, Toiletry & Fragrance Association, The American Cancer Society and the National Cosmetology Association.
    A body image resource for women surviving cancer including suggestions on what to wear and a clothing and accessory directory.
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About Ashley

Ashley is very happily married and the mother to a beautiful little girl, and she is the main voice behind Embracing Beauty.


  1. My mother had ovarian and uterine cancer. Thanks for sharing these tips to help those dealing with the trauma of cancer. It is hard to have to deal with all these other problems too.

  2. The impact is so all-encompassing, isn’t it? Great, great tips.

  3. Tesa @ 2 Wired 2 Tired says

    What wonderful tips. It’s so great of you to share these to help others who need it.

  4. Brett Martin says

    Wonderful tips. Cancer just takes over everything 🙁

  5. Wow you are so knowledgeable about this topic! I am sure these tips will prove helpful for many women!

  6. Great tips Ashley! One other vitamin I would suggest looking into is Biotin. My mom has been taking it and her hair and nails both are gorgeous and healthy.

  7. Really wonderful tips, Ashley. I hate cancer!!

  8. The Rebel Chick Jenn says

    Thank you for sharing those tips!

  9. Jo-Ann Brightman says

    Chemotherapy is terrible. I have a friend who just finished it and I am going to share these tips with her. Thanks

  10. This is great advice and help for someone who has had chemo. I always figured all the chemicals would cause so many other problems, but hopefully also cure the cancer.
    twinkle at optonline dot net

  11. Thank you December 9th was my last treatment. My nails skin and hair are in bad shape I’ll try theses tips thanks

  12. I too went through chemo it destroyed all my good cells inside the body and out I had terrible trouble with infections in my toe nails on one antibiotic after another finally a lady suggested soaking feet in apple cider vinegar. Problem solved
    My faith in the lord brought me through and glad to say back on the mission field serving him
    Another thing that has helped me rebuild is a product called thrive it is pure vitamins and what helped me was the patch that has vitamins cause my stomach lining was not taking in the nutrition if interested let me know it has restored my energy


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