Peau Beauty + Wellness Ensures A Cancer Diagnosis Doesn’t Lead To Spa Visits Being Out Of The Question
Nearly 2 million Americans are expected to be diagnosed with cancer this year. That’s a lot of people who will combat not only the disease, but harsh therapies that wreak havoc on their bodies. Nicole Scott wants aestheticians and makeup artists to harness their unique skills to support the skin of cancer sufferers as they counter the disease, endure therapies and heal.
The 30-year-old Maryland native founded Peau Beauty + Wellness after detecting a gap in the beauty industry for services tailored to people undergoing or recovering from cancer treatments. At Peau, which is named for the French word for skin, she offers training programs helping beauty professionals gain a deeper understanding of the disease and the modifications that should be made to professional spa services to suit clients with cancer.
“There are spas in Canada and the U.S. that turn away cancer patients because they don’t want to take the risk of not knowing how to actually work with their skin type,” says Scott. Staples of facials like steam, exfoliants and peels must be swapped for calming service components and moisturizing masks when working clients with debilitated skin barriers, and gentler touch is required.
Scott was managing a Lancôme beauty counter when she had a light-bulb moment. During a gathering for VIP clients, she was shocked to discover many customers had stopped using Lancôme because of formulas irritating and drying skin that had become incredibly delicate due to chemotherapy and other treatments.
“They were pretty much at their wit’s end and were all asking me what they should be using now,” says Scott. “I just knew this is what I was supposed to do.” She ended up studying at Oncology Training International, a provider of instruction of oncology care based in Balgonie, Canada, and founded by Morag Currin to become a certified oncology aesthetician.
“There are spas in Canada and the U.S. that turn away cancer patients because they don’t want to take the risk of not knowing how to actually work with their skin type.”
At Peau Beauty + Wellness, Scott developed two workshops to teach attendees about the cosmetic challenges that result from cancer and postoperative treatments: a two-day program geared toward aestheticians and a six- to eight-hour course for makeup artists. The courses are currently available in Delaware and Pennsylvania, but Scott hopes to begin offering webinars next year to spread them outside of those states and eventually expand internationally. They are priced at $550 and $899.
As part of the workshop aimed at aestheticians, the participants are trained to suss out suspicious moles on their clients using a mole count. “If someone is educated in this particular field, then they could save a life,” says Scott. She also educates professionals on ways to connect with and actively listen to clients’ needs.
Trainees have the opportunity to put their education into practice with local cancer patients and hear their stories first-hand. “Imagine you’re trying to fight for your life and, then, you don’t even look like yourself in the midst of all that,” says Scott. “Giving a woman that sense of empowerment back and to feel like herself while fighting for her life is so rewarding.”
Chemotherapy and radiation can cause skin discoloration, a topic covered in the cosmetic workshop curriculum that delves into blending and color-matching techniques. In addition, the course touches upon the importance of sterile procedures and tool cleanings to minimize chances of client infections due to depleted immunity.
“Imagine you’re trying to fight for your life and, then, you don’t even look like yourself in the midst of all that. Giving a woman that sense of empowerment back and to feel like herself while fighting for her life is so rewarding.”
Scott emphasizes the value of effective, professional-grade products specifically made for compromised skin. “You’ll see some brands that say they’re natural, but, then when you look at the ingredients, you’ll see a list of parabens.” She recommends depending on products that are paraben-free, and have been researched and tested by doctors. Her favorite brands include Hale & Hush, Plume, Advanced Mineral Makeup and Osmosis.
While several beauty brands, notably Fenty and Revlon’s line Flesh, have made big pushes toward inclusivity by releasing foundation shades for a large variety of skin tones, Scott suggests the next hurdle is for large cosmetic companies is to put out products designed for people with health challenges. She says, “I would love to see a cancer patient walk into a Walgreens or a major department store and easily pick up a product that can address her dryness or sensitivity, and that is toxic-free.”
Sephora has begun to provide Brave Beauty in the Face of Cancer classes at select stores aimed at customers facing a major life transition like a cancer diagnosis. Scott applauds the effort and feels it is a step in the right direction, but she stresses that beauty experts at Sephora should be properly trained in oncology aesthetics so their services go beyond merely makeovers.
For cancer sufferers, Scott underscores the services should focus “on giving them the right tools like non-toxic and organic products…That starts from the buying process, buying more natural indie beauty brands, and putting them into their stores.” Scott continues, “I’m not suggesting mainstream beauty change their entire lines, but we all know someone who’s going through or gone through cancer, and the impact that the right products with the right ingredients can have on them is profound.”