Art director Dulci Edge has a contagious enthusiasm. She’s a voracious reader, travel fanatic, and source of endless great recs. After being diagnosed with cancer three years ago – “Finding a good retinol was my biggest issue until the universe was like lol k,” she wrote on Instagram – she started offering chemo skincare suggestions on her blog along with travel tips. Now 36 and in remission, Dulci talks about how cancer changed her relationship to aging, “all the goopy stuff” she puts on in the morning, and her best advice for women…
First things first, I’m so happy to hear you’re in remission. How are you feeling – physically and emotionally – these days?
Physically, I feel really good. I was used to feeling so crappy all the time that I forgot what it was like to not constantly manage side effects and symptoms. Emotionally, I take things day by day. Some days are great and I almost forget about my double life as a cancer patient; other days it feels big and heavy.
It seems like there’s a lot of pressure on those in treatment and remission to maintain a positive attitude. Have you felt that?
One of my biggest pet peeves about being a cancer patient is the constant expectation to be positive. Trust me, I do feel a lot of gratitude, but I also think I’m entitled to feel angry and frustrated. It’s hard to feel good about the fact that I missed so much time with my young son and that my life will continue to be a rollercoaster of anxiety and doctor appointments. I have many down days and I let them come; I don’t try to talk myself out of feeling any particular way.
How did treatment impact your hair?
I opted to cold cap (which freezes the hair follicle during chemo to prevent hair loss), but I still lost about 98% of it, plus my eyelashes and eyebrows. It’s extremely humbling to be in the ‘prime of life’ and be unrecognizable to yourself. During chemo, washing my hair was impossible because it fell out in clumps. When it was growing back after chemo, I decided to just let it be. Now it’s happy and healthy, but I still don’t wash it. Instead, I use Klorane Dry Shampoo with Nettle twice a week, if my hair needs a boost. It comes in a travel size, so I can take it on trips.
With a cold cap during chemo.
How did your skin change during and after cancer treatments?
Chemo is extremely drying, so overnight my skin went from being oily to sandpaper. I completely overhauled my skincare and switched my focus from controlling oil production to amping up hydration and moisture. It was lots of trial and error, but I still use most of those products. I even wrote a skincare guide for chemo patients on my website because it was so difficult to find information online.
Nowadays, what does your morning skincare routine look like?
I like a really mild cleanser: Indie Lee Brightening Cleanser cleans my face without stripping it. Then I reach for SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic. It manages my oil production and helps fade dark spots. It kind of smells like hot dogs, but I love hot dogs, so that isn’t an issue for me.
That’s the most specific smell description featured in our beauty uniforms. Do you have a sunscreen recommendation?
I use IMAGE Skincare Matte Moisturizer Oil-Free SPF 30. Greasy sunscreen makes me feel like zits are immediately growing, so the matte texture is essential.
Do you often wear makeup?
I love makeup. I’m addicted to Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer; in the winter, I’m the Tiramisu shade, and in the summer, I’m Ginger. It blends so nicely with all the goop I put on my face in the morning and stays put all day. It also makes me look human, which is saying something as I have a five-year-old who wakes up very early. I’m not loyal to any particular bronzer, but I am loyal to the Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Cheek-Hugging Bronzer Brush 190 because it makes me feel like contouring is within my grasp.
What about lipstick?
I’ve been experimenting with a nude matte lip, and, I gotta say, it feels right.
And your eyes?
During chemo, I started using Glossier Brow Flick to fill in the eyebrow areas that were falling out, and it was so effective. Now, my brows are back (woo hoo!), but I still use it to create fullness, and then I use Saie Brow Butter to hold everything in place. Lastly, I curl my eyelashes and do a few coats of Diorshow Overcurl Mascara. This routine sounds like a lot, but I can do it all in about 10 minutes in between putting waffles in the toaster and finding a lost soccer cleat.
Do you ever add anything for a more dramatic look?
If I want an extra ‘wow,’ I finish with Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Match Stix Shimmer Skinstick on the cheekbone area. If I am feeling personally defeated by life, I do a cat-eye with the world’s greatest liquid eyeliner: KVD Beauty Tattoo Liquid Liner.
What does your skincare routine look like at night?
I use Eurow Reusable Makeup Removal Cloths to wash everything off. A couple times a week, I’ll do one of the magic M-61 PowerGlow Peel Exfoliating Pads to get that fresh-from-the-spa feeling. I also swear by the Ordinary’s Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% Oil Control Serum and Mandelic Acid 10% + HA. These two products have completely changed my skin’s tone and texture. I’ve seen incredible results.
How do you wind down before bed?
I always read for 20 to 30 minutes. Nightly reading is my version of meditation. Then it’s lights out around 10 p.m., which, oh man, college me would not have understood at all.
Have you read anything good recently?
Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel. It was a thought provoking, sci-fi adjacent read, which is what she does best.
Can you tell us about your career path?
My first job out of college was at a prestigious advertising agency, but it was a total boy’s club. I made zero dollars after taxes, got like 2.6 vacation days and found it absolutely soul sucking. Feeling hopeless at the beginning of your career is a mind-bending experience, but it also made me determined to get the hell out. If the job had been decent, I might have gotten comfy and stayed a while and that would have been such a miss, because shortly after, I ended up finding my dream career. I’m a photo art director and I love it. I create concepts and then work with a production team to build out a cast of models, photographers, set designers, and hair and makeup artists to bring it all to life. Every day is different.
You travel for both work and pleasure. Does your beauty routine change when traveling?
Yes, I scale back and stick to travel or sample sizes for skincare. Makeup-wise, I’ll pack something I wouldn’t wear in my daily life, like a more ‘out there’ eyeshadow or lip shade.
Any travel tips?
I often book stuff last minute and love using HotelTonight. But my favorite travel hack is to marry someone who is a natural planner. My husband must have been a travel agent in a past life; he’s a logistics wizard. It’s my job to find the best places to eat and stay. I’m in charge of the sparkle.
When do you feel most beautiful?
On a beachy vacation with my husband and son, going out to dinner with salty hair. I’m probably not wearing any makeup, but I feel amazing because I’ve been napping and reading in a lounger.
What’s your best piece of advice?
I was 33, healthy, and totally confused when I found a lump in my breast. I didn’t find it doing a self check or at the doctor’s office. I found it while I was folding a basket of toddler T-shirts and watching Bravo. I had an itch on my chest and scratching that itch changed my life. My lump turned out to be triple negative breast cancer (the most aggressive and deadly), and without regular self checks and yearly mammograms, the chances of my finding it early enough to make a difference were pretty slim. The truth is, I got lucky, but there are other versions of this story where I’m not so lucky. So, schedule your annual, schedule a mammogram, and do self checks in the shower or before you get dressed in the morning. Not to be a drama queen, but it’s a matter of life and death, and as someone who’s been through it, the life part is way better.
How has your experience with cancer changed your relationship to aging?
I now see aging as a privilege in a way I didn’t understand until I considered my own mortality up close. This past spring, I turned 36, and I wasn’t sure if that would be possible when I was originally diagnosed. I have a highly recurrent cancer type and nothing is promised, so it all feels like borrowed time. I look at every year as a bonus round. We should all be so lucky to grow old and gray.
Thank you, Dulci!!
(Photos courtesy of Dulci Edge.)
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