For Renata Helfman, there is beauty in helping others.
The LA-based makeup artist was an early adapter to natural self-care, pioneering the proliferation of both effective and elevated non-toxic beauty and wellness products through her work with celebrity clients and the opening of Vert (the first “eco-chic” boutique in the nation).
After supporting her grandmother through a cancer diagnosis, she volunteered at Cedars Sinai Medical Center and quickly realized that there was no existing service that brought self-care, beauty and a bit of fun to cancer wards. And so, in 2012, she launched Lipstick Angels, a non-profit that brings facials, makeup application and other feel-good spa services to cancer infusion centers to help uplift moods and boost self-esteem.
Since the pandemic, Helfman has managed to pivot and keep the organization going, sending tailored product care packages to patients and walking them through rituals over zoom.
Here, the do-gooder talks about staying brave—and grateful—in the face of change:
LIVE THE PROCESS: What initially drew you to becoming a makeup artist?
RENATA HELFMAN: I am drawn to people and color. It has always been so exciting to me to take a blank canvas (or face) and make it come alive with color and texture. Seeing the the smile, joy or confidence in someone’s face afterward is the icing on the cake.
LTP: You're a pioneer of chic natural beauty. How did you first become interested in the idea of non-toxic self-care?
RH: Well, I was going through my own journey and health crisis with my periods being really painful. I went to see a holistic PhD and, at the very end of our appointment, she said, “Renata, while we go through all this testing, please make sure your personal care items do not have chemicals in them.” I really had no idea what she was talking about until I went home and actually googled that phrase verbatim. What came up was the EWG (or Environmental Working Group) website and it changed my life forever.
LTP: How did you come to launch Lipstick Angels? In non-pandemic times, how has the organization functioned?
RH: I started Lipstick Angels in 2012 and it really came from a personal desire to do something meaningful. When my grandma was diagnosed with cancer, my makeup skills really helped her. So, long story short, when I went looking around in hospitals, I was shocked to find that there was no organization doing what we do for patients—so I created it.
Lipstick Angels works in cancer infusion centers across the country. We work bedside one-on-one with patients, helping them navigate, learn and become inspired to practice self-care. We have a beautifully curated cart that holds everything we need to do treatments from facials to full makeup application. Our spa menu centers around clean, healthy beauty. Lipstick Angels is a 501 c3 non-profit, so, like any charity, our funding model varies from the everyday donor to grants to amazing partnerships. From the very beginning, Credo Beauty has been donating a percentage of every single sale to us.
LTP: Since the pandemic started, how have you guys pivoted?
RH: We are so, so excited that we have been able to build a virtual platform in these times. Basically, we connect with our patients, mail them a bag full of products (specially curated for their individual skin types and coloring etc.) and then we do a full on Lipstick Angels service/tutorial via zoom.
LTP: Do you think it’s particularly important to give back in this challenging time?
RH: Oh, well, yes—it sure is. I really can’t tell you how many beautiful stories I hear of people helping others in this time. My hope is that this spirit continues even after things get somewhat back to normal. I believe even the smallest gesture, on a regular basis, can heal hearts and souls for the giver and the receiver.
LTP: What does happiness look like to you?
RH: It is a constant reset, actually. But today it is truly about being grateful.
LTP: What does it mean to you to “Live The Process” and how can we all do that more each day?
RH: For me, the process is knowing that life is about constant change. Being open to that is brave; being fearful is natural. So, I guess walking those two paths together is how I get to the next step every single day.
Image via Japanese Garden Series by Six N. Five