Women cancer patients learn makeup tips in new Egypt workshop

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Faten Fawzi, a breast cancer patient, receives makeup tips at Cairo's Marriott Hotel in Zamalek district, Egypt. (Reuters)
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Faten Fawzi (2nd R), receives makeup tips with other cancer patients at Cairo's Marriott Hotel in Zamalek district, Egypt. (Reuters)
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Merhan Khalil (R), receives makeup tips with other cancer patients at Cairo's Marriott Hotel in Zamalek district, Egypt. (Reuters)
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Wigs are seen during a workshop for cancer patients to receive makeup tips at Cairo's Marriott Hotel in Zamalek district, Egypt. (Reuters)
Updated 12 November 2018
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Women cancer patients learn makeup tips in new Egypt workshop

  • Workshop is part of a program already in operation in Lebanon and the UAE called “Be Beautiful”
  • Will be launched this month in at least seven hospitals in Egypt

CAIRO: When cancer patient Merhan Khalil had a bone marrow transplant and chemotherapy in 2012, her hair started to fall out in the shower. On Saturday she joined a Cairo workshop that teaches female cancer patients how to conceal signs of cancer treatment.
“It helps a lot mentally ... to feel beautiful and to feel that the medicine didn’t change us,” said Khalil, 46, who suffers from multiple myeloma, a blood plasma cancer.
The workshop is part of a program already in operation in Lebanon and the UAE called “Be Beautiful” that will be launched this month in at least seven hospitals in Egypt. It will offer women cancer patients makeup tips as well as mental health support and advice about nutrition.
“When the cancer patient feels that she is beautiful and when she gets proper nutrition that will have a positive effect on her mental state and that strengthens her immune system,” said Hanadi el-Imam, founder of the Hoda el-Imam Foundation, which is organizing the workshops.
She said the aim is to offer the workshops in five Egyptian governorates within a year.
Faten Fawzi, a breast cancer patient who was among a group of five patients learning how to paint their eyebrows and apply conditioner on dry skin at the Cairo Marriott Hotel, said she felt like her hair was burned after chemo.
“I went to my hairdresser and he shaved it off completely and I was devastated and started crying,” Fawzi, 46, told Reuters.
“But after that I put on a chic wig that looked like my hair and you couldn’t tell at all that I had cancer.”
While she recently got rid of the wig, Fawzi said she still paints her eyebrows and cares about her makeup routine because it makes her feel better.
Ghada Salah who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013, said she started to experiment with different wigs and colorful hats after she lost her hair to chemotherapy.
“I didn’t want to look sick,” she said. “I didn’t want people to think ‘poor her, she has cancer.’”
The organizers hope to serve 5,000 Egyptian women in the first year, said Dina Omar, a cardiologist and one of the founders of Be Beautiful.
Globally, cancer is responsible for one in six deaths, according to the World Health Organization. Approximately 70 percent of deaths from cancer happen in low and middle-income countries, WHO said.


Startup of the Week: Coco Sabon’s natural skincare

Coco Sabon. (Supplied)
Updated 21 May 2019
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Startup of the Week: Coco Sabon’s natural skincare

  • Coco Sabon’s customers are mostly Arab women aged between 20 and 40, “though we have many loyal fans that span different age groups and come from all over the world”

RIYADH: The healing and relaxing powers of nature are at the heart of Coco Sabon’s philosophy.
Launched by Dr. Cynthia Mosher — an American living in Riyadh — the skincare firm is committed to sourcing high-quality, natural oriental ingredients that provide the skin with gentle care and nourishment.
“I launched Coco Sabon in November 2015 at Alfaisal University’s first bazaar,” she said.
Mosher, who completed a bachelor of science in natural health sciences, said she hoped to do something more than simply diagnose illnesses and prescribe treatments. She also wanted to have time for other important things and people, so now she is working as an educator, training a new generation of medical students.
She encourages people to make healthy choices when it comes to ingredients they use on their bodies.
“I fell in love with formulating and creating beautiful, natural skincare products. I continued my creative journey while pursuing my medical degree, which deepened my commitment to develop ‘do no harm’ skincare based on natural ingredients,” she said.
“Layered with my admiration of Arabian culture, the rich regional ingredients, and my passion for integrative medicine, I developed a deep sense of holistic self-care that guides my formulations. My love for the fragrances, natural remedies and skincare routines of the Middle East are the heart and soul of Coco Sabon.”
There is a growing demand for Coco Sabon products. “After years of requests from family and friends to make and sell my products, I tested the waters, so to speak. We sold out of everything that day.”
She added: “About six weeks later we were invited to participate at the Gathering in Al-Bujairi in January 2016. We had a crowd of customers nonstop for three days and again sold out of everything. It was a decisive weekend. Coco Sabon was born and we have not looked back since.”
Mosher’s family and friends offered encouragement, but one of her strongest supporters was her best friend, Audrey Wilkinson. She said: “Audrey was my supporter, helper and adviser. She now works with me, formulating and producing our candles, cremes and face care line.”
Coco Sabon’s customers are mostly Arab women aged between 20 and 40, “though we have many loyal fans that span different age groups and come from all over the world.”
The brand offers a wide range of products, including soap, bath bombs, scrubs, cremes, face and body oils, perfumes and candles.
“Everything is produced by hand in small batches here in Riyadh using natural, safe and organic ingredients, sourced locally wherever possible,” Mosher said.
Coco Sabon believes in supporting local businesses and in sourcing the best ingredients possible. The store also designs its packaging and hand packages, labels and wraps each item, selling through an online store (cocosabon.com), Instagram, WhatsApp, and local popup shop events.
Mosher has also started offering workshops on making her products.
“Some might think that to be unwise because I could very well teach a future competitor,” she said. “Well, that’s true for the medical students I teach now. Should I withhold my knowledge for fear of them becoming better doctors and doing better? Of course not. The more knowledge we put out there, the better our society will be. The workshops also help build community.
“I connect with people who are curious, who want to learn how to create and how to make good choices for their health. I welcome workshop students young and older (my youngest so far was just 6 years old), and I encourage them to take what they learn and use it to improve their lives and that of others around them. If they make a business out of doing so, then good for them. We all have something to offer the world,” she said.
Mosher is happy that she created a job she loves. “Sometimes I miss practicing clinical medicine, but I remind myself that I am helping people make healthier choices for their bodies, their minds, their souls and the planet,” she said.
“That’s a special kind of medicine that I believe can help heal the world.”