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BEAUTY CLINIC: Helping breast cancer recovery

Jo and Sarah answer real questions from readers: to put your query, go to

Q My sister is about to have breast surgery (a lumpectomy) and I want to find something to help with the healing process. Is there anything you recommend?

A There are two products we suggest might help. A California-based skincare company called iS Clinical, which has close ties to breast cancer charities, offers Sheald Recovery Balm and British brand SOS, standing for Science of Skin, has formulated Solution for Scars.

They are both excellent but there is one key difference. Sheald, which we know well and have had glowing reports about, can be applied to open wounds. Pharmacist Shabir Daya at Victoria Health recommends cleansing the wound first with iS Clinical Cleansing Complex then applying Sheald. (Gill Sinclair, Joint MD of Victoria Health, has just sent this combi to her daughter in law to use after a C-section.)

SOS Solution for Scars is designed to use after the wound has closed. Plastic surgeon Douglas McGeorge, who founded the range with scientist Dr Ardeshir Bayat, a specialist in scar treatment, says their product – based on a green tea extract plus other botanicals – will first help to reduce inflammation and soreness.

Douglas McGeorge says: ‘This will help the healing of the scar, as the reduction in irritation will mean that you are less likely to interfere or touch the wound. Once the irritation has been removed, the scarring will become more flush with the skin, with reduced redness.’ The product is clinically proven to reduce scarring by up to 40 per cent.

Additionally, Mr McGeorge says the most important step for effective healing is to keep the initial wound clean. ‘It is a common misconception that it should always be kept dry, and if it is dried well afterwards (a cool hairdryer works well), it is perfectly acceptable to wash the wound with water. It is also a misconception that dressings should always be kept on. Immediately after surgery, the dressing supports the area (especially on breast surgery), and so should be kept on. However, leaving the wound open to fresh air can help with healing. More often than not, the dressing on a wound is there to protect your clothes from any leaking rather than protecting the wound.’

We do hope this helps your sister and wish her a smooth recovery. 

Beauty Bible loves… An Atlas of Natural Beauty, £20. If you’re looking for a gift for a friend who’s into natural beauty, this makes a wonderful read. And it’s a great addition to the bookshelf of anyone who (like us) occasionally likes to whip up their own products at home. (It’s sooooo easy, honestly!)

Victoire de Taillac, co-author of this book with husband Ramdane Touhami, is a Paris-based entrepreneur, shopkeeper and all-round cool-girl-about-town. Together, the couple set up L’Officine Buly 1803 – which is a little like stepping through the back of the wardrobe into the Narnia-like environment of an ancient apothecary store, and now has outposts in places like Tokyo and Seoul (as well as two stores in Paris), with a new boutique to open on the ground floor of Selfridges later this week.

With its marbled cover, An Atlas of Natural Beauty: Botanical Ingredients for Retaining and Enhancing Beauty (Ebury Press) looks like an old apothecary book but is brought bang up to date with easy-to-follow recipes using ingredients like marigold, chamomile, cocoa butter, rosemary, tea tree, as well as further-flung ingredients like marula, perilla and Inca inchi oils, among other fascinating botanicals. (The book also tells you where things come from, and their history.)

As authors of a natural beauty how-to book ourselves, we give this great read five gold stars.