Meet Renata Helfman, a philanthropist, clean beauty advocate and an inspirational addition to our Saint Series. Always searching for ways to share her knowledge and help those around her, Renata began volunteering with cancer patients at Cedars Sinai in 2011 and was surprised to learn that the hospital did not have a beauty program in place. Specifically, she made it her mission to bring beauty, compassion and human touch to patients in need through offering complimentary, personalized, and oncology-sensitive beauty and skin care services. That’s when she founded Lipstick Angels. Renata shared her story with us, and we know you’ll find it just as inspiring as we do.
Q: What inspired you to start Lipstick Angles?
A: I started Lipstick Angels because I was looking for a way to give back simply as a volunteer. I was a busy makeup artist working around the country and when I looked for an opportunity to work with cancer patients in a hospital setting I could not find one, so I took it upon myself to create it. It definitely was not easy but the organization always had a life of its own from day one. I am so happy that now there is a venue for other makeup artists and aestheticians to give back in this capacity and of course an organization that is looking at people living with cancer with a mind, body and spirit connection.
Q: Because of the Pandemic, you’ve had to pivot and find new ways to reach cancer patients virtually. Can you tell us about it?
A: Yes, I am so incredibly excited that we have launched a virtual platform for our classes and private sessions. We can now send our patients a wonderful variety of skincare , make up and wellness products directly to their homes .We then set up a private Zoom call for them to work directly with a Lipstick Angel. We feel that this is a unique opportunity to expand our footprint and be able to reach more and more cancer patients in need. We are thrilled that we will be able to do this even when we go back into the hospital and have more options for patients to connect with us.
Q: Makeup and beauty can be transformative, especially for those who are going through Chemo. Can you share some of your favorite moments since starting Lipstick Angels?
A: Well, there are so many incredible moments. But I can remember one that always sticks out. I was actually working with this beautiful woman in the infusion center while she was getting her chemotherapy and tears came to her eyes after I showed her how she looked in the mirror. When I asked her if she was ok she just said that she was so happy that today she was not going to hide in the car when she picked her daughter up from school, she was going to go in and get her. This was a huge moment for our organization to understand how cancer affects the whole family and I always see that little girl’s face and how she must have felt seeing her mom come into the school and get her and feel like herself again.
Q: You are an advocate for clean beauty. Why is using clean beauty/skincare important for you?
A: Clean beauty for me is very personal. When I discovered all of the chemicals in the personal care items almost 20 years ago my life really changed for the better. I was suffering from some health issues and I knew I had to clean up my act and learn what was really going into my body. Thinking about it now, who could have imagined how important it would be for my career now working with people living with cancer. There is no reason for anyone not to be educated about what they are putting on their skin ( it is your largest organ) but as a cancer patient you have to be even more careful about everything you do. Staying as healthy as you can imagine is vital to keep your immune system strong so you can get through the chemotherapy and or radiation.
Q: How can we support and get involved with Lipstick Angels?
A: There are lots of ways to support Lipstick Angels. If you are a makeup artist or aesthetician and you are interested in volunteering please visit our website Lipstickangles.org. You can also make a tax-deductible donation on our website - every dollar helps us deliver our programs around the country! Also, supporting brands like Saint Jane who we have partnerships with is such a beautiful way to show your support and receive the gift of beauty yourself.
Q: What are your secrets to self-care and balance?
A: I think that’s the key is definitely balance in everything in life. It is a hard lesson to learn but I will say if you can be kind to yourself and others and let yourself color outside of the lines once in a while it is a really good thing!
Q: If you were to be anointed into sainthood, what would it be for?
A: I hate to say it but I think I would be the Saint of Overworking! I don’t look at it as a negative at all, I just love what I do and get excited to get up every day and lead this organization with all my heart and soul.
Bonus Q: What's your favorite SAINT JANE product and why do you love it?A: My favorite product is hard to choose because they are all AMAZING! But I, of course, must go with the exquisite lip cream in the shade “Ritual.” The color is divine and 100% of the proceeds are donated to Lipstick Angels. If that’s not love then what is?