This time last year I gazed into my mirror. A strange, expressionless mask gazed back at me. Despite covering my baldness with wigs, turbans, hats and scarves there was no getting away from it – I was appearing weirder by the day. And then the penny dropped... my eyebrows and eyelashes were disappearing. Without these seemingly inconsequential wisps of facial hair ones visage takes on the blank look of some kind of other worldly space baby.
At the time I had no experience of what steps might be taken to reintegrate myself with the human race and little idea of who to ask. Eventually I figured out how to draw my eyebrows on with powder and to smudge eye shadow along my lids to create the illusion of lashes. Whilst I never did quite pass for Joan Crawford (above), my hand-drawn eyebrows at least made me look more JC than ET. But it was a rigmarole to perform that sleight-of-hand every morning before heading down to the corner shop for a newspaper. And if the postman happened to knock at the door I hid in the bathroom.
I had heard that one could have brows and eyeliner tattooed on but I feared that I might end up looking forevermore like an escaped circus she-man. I have since learned about medical tattooing a.k.a. Cosmetic Pigment Camouflage. This specialised technique involves using mineral pigments to apply semi-permanent tattoos to replace missing lashes or sparse eyebrows. Following mastectomy, a skilled practitioner can also create the illusion of a 3-D nipple and aureole. Clever shading can be used to disguise white scars by matching one’s surrounding skin pigment.
If only I had done a bit more thorough investigating I might have saved myself a few tears, curses and wobbly brow days.
But that is the whole point of Chemo Chic. I tell you about all the things I have learned and am still learning on my breast cancer journey so you don’t have to go through it all from scratch.
An email has just arrived informing me of a wonderful offer. Faye Parker, a Medical Aesthetician at Bijoux Medi Spa in Belgravia is offering FREE semi-permanent tattooing to anyone about to undergo or having recently completed chemo or radiotherapy (it's not advisable to do it whilst you're having chemo). According to Faye “This technique only takes 90 minutes and will last for a good 12 months before fading.”
I emailed back pronto: “What’s the catch?” and was pleased to get this reply: “No catch at all... It is something they like to do to help. Not everyone will want to go down this route but those who do are very welcome... If there is a massive uptake there might be a bit of a waiting list because Faye only has one pair of hands!”
Bijoux Medi Spa’s ‘phone number is: 020 7730 0765