Beauty can be transformative beyond appearances—it has the power to restore a person’s dignity and sense of self, something that Team Wow’s Renata Helfman knows firsthand. She is the founder of Lipstick Angels, a nonprofit network of makeup artists and aestheticians who provide complimentary beauty and wellness services to patients with cancer and other chronic illnesses.
Founded in 2012, Renata and her team of Angels spent the first eight years pampering patients at their hospital bedside. Knowing the profound impact that human touch can have on the well-being of those battling serious illness, the Lipstick Angels nurtured individuals hands on with facials, makeup applications, hand massages, and other spa-like services. Then the pandemic hit, and a core element of the organization’s work—providing comfort through touch—suddenly became off limits.
But if there’s anyone who knows how to evolve a business, it’s Renata. An early advocate of clean beauty before the phrase even existed, she worked for years as a highly successful celebrity makeup artist before opening her own Los Angeles beauty boutique in 2007 that sold natural and chemical-free products. When her grandmother was diagnosed with cancer, Renata’s makeup artistry skills helped her grandmother maintain her spirits while undergoing treatment. Inspired to bring this kind of joy and feel good self-care to other cancer patients, Renata soon launched Lipstick Angels, which combines her passion for clean beauty with her deep commitment to helping those who are sick maintain their confidence, hope, and self-esteem.
In the wake of COVID, the organization pivoted to offering virtual sessions over Zoom, an option that will remain available going forward even once their in-hospital services resume. “Going virtual has opened up a lot of doors to expand our work,” says Renata. “Before the pandemic, if you were not a patient in one of our partner hospitals, we weren’t able to reach you. Now we have the ability to connect with patients all across the country, and also to recruit makeup artists and skin experts who can volunteer their services virtually.
The professional makeup artists and aestheticians who volunteer their time to perform patient services train for up to three months to become a Lipstick Angel. “Everything we offer must cater to someone who is living with cancer or a chronic illness, so we have to be extremely sensitive to what their bodies are going through and what they’re experiencing emotionally,” Renata explains. “It’s a unique set of boundaries and mental preparation.”
For the virtual sessions, patients fill out a brief questionnaire online, then a customized beauty package is shipped to their home with all the products they will use during their one-on-one appointment. Their Lipstick Angel then walks the patient through her or his customized beauty routine, providing helpful tips and support throughout the session.
Once a month, the Lipstick Angels also host group format online classes where they walk patients through an all-encompassing, oncology-sensitive beauty session that incorporates meditation, aromatherapy, a facial, and a full makeup tutorial with products shipped to each participant beforehand. The sessions also educate patients on clean beauty, so they learn how to choose products that are safe and appropriate for their needs while undergoing treatment.
Wonderskin is a proud partner of Lipstick Angels, and we donate our Brow Pomade In A Pencil and eyebrow stencil to every beauty package that is shipped out to patients.
To make a donation to Lipstick Angels, visit lipstickangels.kindful.com.
All images in this post are courtesy of Lipstick Angels