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Outward Appearances: Looking Good with Chronic Illness – by Ashley Boynes-Shuck

I am not ugly. But, sometimes being sick makes me feel like I am.

Believe it or not, rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune conditions can certainly age you; all the while “stealing your pretty.”

I used to get mad about it, and now I just learn to adapt. There are so many ways to still look and feel your best even while living with rheumatoid arthritis or other similar conditions.

So – I want to share some useful tips, and would love for you to do the same! Let’s make our outsides match our beautiful souls and together we will show arthritis how pretty we can be!

Problem: “Moon Face” from Steroids – Also known as the Puffy-Face Problem.  Solution: Hair styles & makeup contouring! I struggle with the rounded-face side effects of Prednisone, and I’ve noticed that wearing a longer hairstyle that frames the face helps detract from its rounded shape. Also, using bronzer on the cheekbones, chin, and even a bit on the nose can help the planes of the face appear more angular. It creates shadows and takes away some of the puffy look. For a tutorial, click here.  Bonus Tip?  In photos, tilt your head down and turn your head to the side a bit. Looking at a camera straight on makes ANYONE’S face appear wider than it is.

Problem: Weight gain from medications. Solution: Of course, diet and exercise are the main solution — no surprise there. Aside from cosmetic surgery, a physically active lifestyle and proper eating habits are the only way to lose weight. That being said, weight gained from drugs is harder to lose, and if you live with chronic pain or disability, you may not be able to exercise at optimal weight-loss levels. So, simply appearing slimmer is another way to beat the weight-gain blues, and it will also make you feel better baout yourself. Remember, wearing clothes that fit you properly and that are tailored to the size you are NOW will be much more flattering than trying to squeeze your med-induced muffin top into your old skinny jeans. Also, remember that sometimes form-fitting clothing is far more slenderizing than baggy, tentlike garments. If you are wider than you’d like stay away from horizontal stripes. A nice touch is also to accentuate your waistline to create good proportions. And slimming undergarments such as Spanx, for example, are a must. Bonus tip? Again, when posing for photos, create an angle between you and the camera. Stand with proper posture, if you are able to, in order to appear taller and slimmer.

Problem: Weight loss from disease or medications. Solution: Again, you should stick to a healthy diet and an exercise routine. Light strength training exercises will help you to build muscle. If  you don’t want to appear as tiny as you are, take advantage of the layering trend and pile on the chic sweaters and cozy knits. Wide leg jeans are a great option for skinny-minis looking to add curves, too.

Problem: Hair thinning from medications. Solution: I went the expensive route and got hair extensions, but they are high maintenance and pricey. More reasonable options, aside from a wig or extensions, are medicated thickening shampoos like Rogaine or Nioxin. Almond oil rubbed on the scalp and egg whites in the hair are two natural remedies that are supposed to help. If you are NOT allergic to wheat and are not gluten-free, wheat germ is supposed to stimulate hair growth. So are Biotin supplements and prenatal vitamins. Bonus tip? Wear your hair as voluminous, wild, and curly as possible if you can style it as such — “big” hair styles will detract from sparse, thin, brittle, or missing areas. Also – – scarves and pashminas are in right now — what a quick and easy fix!

Problem: Dark circles under the eyes. Solution: I haven’t yet found a solution that works 100% for me, but ask a dermatologist for some recommendations — there are tons of products out there. Vitamin C is a great way to brighten skin and many skincare/undereye products have it in them. Also, a good concealer is key. Getting enough iron and proper rest is also of utmost importance.

Problem: Scars from surgeries. Solution: There are many awesome scar-reducing products out there. Ask your surgeon or dermatologist for a recommendation! Also, remember to always apply sunblock on any exposed scars, and to make sure to care for them properly post-surgery so that they heal well.

Problem: Deformed joints. Solution: Unfortunately, we cannot always hide joint damage. Clothing is an obvious way to hide deformed joints when we can, so are attractive splint covers or stylish gloves.

Problem: Skin rashes and lesions. Solution: SEE A DOCTOR. Never let suspicious, strange, or new skin rashes or lesions go unattended. Make an appointment with your dermatologist and go from there.
Remember that you aren’t alone! I have felt that being chronically ill has aged me emotionally and physically, but it is refreshing to know that I’m not the only one battling these struggles — AND there are women all over the world who are HEALTHY and yet still dealing with the same things!

We are all in this together. Our beauty should radiate from the inside out. If you always remember that, the rest will fall in to place. Of course, good sleep, proper nutrition, good posture, getting exercise, a fabulous hair stylist, and some killer makeup doesn’t hurt!

Do you have any beauty tips to share? If so, please leave a comment!

Stay Well,

 Ashley Boynes-Shuck

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One thought on “Outward Appearances: Looking Good with Chronic Illness – by Ashley Boynes-Shuck

  1. Some great suggestions! I will say that, since going vegan, my skin has improved tremendously. It hasn’t, in any way, cured me, but my skin has never looked better. I have stopped wearing make-up entirely but I do invest in a good eye cream to cover the circles under my eyes.

    I think everyone no matter their situation needs to try and look the best they can so that they feel good about themselves. Good quality clothing that you like (I get mine at thrift stores so it doesn’t have to be expensive) that actually fits you is key.

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