Beauty, Self-love and Living with Cancer: International Women’s Day with Natalie Fornasier

In celebration of International Women’s Day, we sat down with #EOHBeauty, Natalie Fornasier, an incredibly talented writer, advocate for sun safety and lover of all things beauty. Natalie graciously shares her experience living with stage IV cancer throughout her twenties, her role in driving not-for-profit organisation, Call Time on Melanoma, her non-negotiable beauty rituals and more.

Natalie is a force to be reckoned with, her strength and zest for life are truly inspiring and we are so grateful for her time, her powerful insights on representation and importantly, the priceless value of self-love during times of hardship.

1. International Women's Day is all about celebrating women and commemorating our achievements. What achievements are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of my resilience. I’ve gone through a lot over the last seven – almost eight years, and I’ve somehow always managed to keep myself grounded. A cancer diagnosis is probably one of the scariest and most intense experiences to go through in a lifetime, and it’s all I’ve known since I was 20 years old. I’m now 28, and to still be here, well that is an achievement in itself.

2. You've acknowledged a disconnect between the beauty industry and cancer. Why did you feel it was so important to re-frame and re-educate on this notion?

Every person and everybody deserves to be acknowledged in an industry that has the ability to make you feel empowered. The beauty industry has so much potential in that case – to cater to women and men of all shapes, sizes, colour, and ability and yet it perpetuates a standard of beauty that is unattainable time and time again.

Beauty must reflect the society we live in – and that includes people with cancer. Cancer is extremely isolating, yet there’s this industry that exists that can begin to break down that barrier and make cancer patients feel human and of course, included. It’s so important to see ourselves represented in your everyday beauty campaigns and in everyday life – we don’t exist for certain months where fundraising is on the brain and it makes brands look good. We’re here, all the time.

Beauty and cancer are extremely complex. When you have cancer not only is your identity suffering and being reinvented, but so too is your understanding of beauty and self-love. I got tired of seeing non-disabled people everywhere – it felt like my existence was being ignored and it was considered shameful to speak about illness.

In a society that preaches embracing individualism, it isn't the case because our society is ableist. You need to be a certain type of individual to get somewhere or be seen, and that just didn’t sit right with me so that’s why I decided to speak up.

The world is evolving at a fast rate, and I feel like it’s important that the beauty industry (and other industries) take note. People with disabilities and chronic illnesses deserve to be front and centre, just like the non-disabled. There’s nothing wrong with being sick, or looking different, and it’s about time brands acknowledged that.

3. At Eye of Horus we are committed to Empowered Beauty, both within our eco-conscious products and within our customers. When do you feel most empowered?

I feel most empowered when I’m amongst other women I admire. I feed off their energy and in turn, it empowers me to be a better person and go through life continuously building and evolving who I am.

4. How has beauty and self-love transformed your cancer journey?

Beauty, self-love, and self-care have worked together on some of my hardest days to remind myself that despite the scars, the dark, permanent half-moons under my eyes and the differences between myself and the ‘ordinary’ human being – I’m still me and I’m worthy of love and self-love.

Beauty is such an intimate ritual with oneself that it has the power to transform how we feel, and there are moments where I turn to it simply because I need that lift. It’s a journey though – it isn’t easy, but engaging with it and placing myself in that world reminds me that I deserve to take care of myself and love who I am.

5. What are some tips and tricks when practicing your everyday beauty rituals?

An ice roller when you wake up really does make a difference! Drink water as soon as you wake up and use your favourite and ‘special’ products – whether it be perfume or lipstick - because you can. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Life is the special occasion.

6. You describe yourself as a lover of all things beauty, what are your favourite #EOH beauty product/s?

The Skin Tint Serum is beautiful on the skin. I love the dewy glow it gives and how well it works with other products. As someone who loves eyebrows, the Dual Brow Perfect is luscious. I love how creamy the texture of the product is and how smoothly it applies! And lastly, the Bio Lip Elixir – I’m loving glosses at the moment and has such a beautiful texture without feeling sticky. It’s a go-to for every day.

7. You are the inspiration and a key driver behind Call Time on Melanoma - a not for profit organisation campaigning to change women's relationships with sun tanning and educate about the importance of sun safety. What do you want to tell people about melanoma?

That isn’t something to be underestimated. A lot of people assume that if you get it, it can be burnt off or cut out. While that does work for some, it’s more complicated than that – and the lifelong worry is exactly that – it’s lifelong. Anyone can get melanoma (and skin cancer) – yes, 95% of these cases are caused by the sun, but it also isn’t always the case. My melanoma is a part of the 5% of melanoma cancers that occurred due to a change in cells in a mole. A skin check (and my gut instinct) is the reason I’m still alive today and gave me a chance to fight.

If I didn’t listen to my body when I did, well, it would have been a very different story. Melanoma is a vicious cancer that can be prevented (most of the time) through simple means, such as protecting your skin by wearing sunscreen, hats, and long sleeve shirts. At the end of the day, our skin is our largest organ and it is worthy of being protected – so be responsible in the sun and get your skin checked regularly.

8. Lastly, you are an incredible writer and are full of life experience. What are some words of wisdom, or a quote, to inspire this International Women's Day?

That’s very kind! I always say to lead with your heart, be kind and stay close to those who feel like sunlight. Life moves so fast we forget that we hold the reigns and can choose who we surround ourselves with – always make sure you’re with people who lift you up. That’s important. You need people who will always lift you up, in both the good and bad times. Also, stop and admire life every once in a while, it’s a damn beautiful thing.

To learn more about Natalie, you can head to her website or follow her at
@nataliefornasier on Instagram.