When 40-year-old London make-up artist Andrea Pellegrini was diagnosed with breast cancer last year it was the start of a journey in which her recovery was only part of the story. What Andrea could never have known the day she was diagnosed was that she would quickly become a YouTube sensation and an inspiration to thousands of people.
“I shaved my head before my second chemo, just as my hair started to come out,” she tells the newspaper. “I didn’t want to go through the whole process of waking up every morning and finding hair on the pillow or having to go through the balding granddad stage.”
When her husband shaved her head for her, she looked in the mirror and cried.
Tricks up her sleeve
Being a make-up artist, Andrea – without even realising it – had more confidence-boosting tricks up her sleeve than most. While there was nothing she could do to bring back her beloved hair overnight – in most cases hair lost to chemotherapy treatment will grow back a few months after treatment ends – she was certainly creative when it came to making the most of things. Make-up, turbans and clip-on fringes all helped to soften the blow and gave Andrea an element of control over how she looked.
Encouraged by her husband, children and other cancer patients, she decided to start a YouTube channel to share her tips.
Entitled ‘Baldly Beautiful’ and edited by her 15-year-old daughter, the channel was an instant hit – “The first video I did went berserk,” says Andrea. “People were sharing it all over the internet.”
In a series of video tutorials aimed at women with hair loss, Andrea experimented with different types and shades of make-up, as well as various accessories to see what worked. She found that bright red, orange or pink lipstick always brightens up the face. Sallow skin, meanwhile, can be enlivened with a dash of pink blusher. Another top tip: “Try doing a thickish line with a flick if you have no lashes to accentuate the eyes.”
Wigs worn on special occasions
While Andrea quickly decided that wigs weren’t for her – though she reluctantly wore them for special occasions – she did warm to ready-made turbans, which she would wear with a fringe attached by Velcro. An eye-catching pair of earrings completed the ensemble.
Earlier this year, Andrea completed her treatment and was optimistic that the breast cancer was behind her, though cancer drugs will feature in her life for the best part of another decade. She has plans to continue the channel, and admits that it played a big role in keeping her upbeat during treatment.
“It definitely helped me get through chemo,” she says. “It was something to focus on, and it helped the whole family as they all got involved.”
The Belgravia Centre
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.