Inspired by her grandmother’s cancer journey, which included a pre-chemotherapy ritual of applying bright red lipstick, Renata Helfman founded Lipstick Angels. While volunteering at Los Angeles’ Cedars Sinai Hospital in 2011, she discovered patients’ profound and unmet need for physical touch, as well as wellness and beauty services. She made it her mission to fill this gap and offer these courageous women and men vital non-medical, psychosocial treatments during chemotherapy, radiology and other interventions. After a year of research and development in collaboration with the Epidemiology Department at Cedars Sinai, she officially launched Lipstick Angels in March 2012.
Lipstick Angels’ mission is to provide transformative wellness services to restore the dignity and self-esteem of patients with cancer and other chronic illness. We are the only nonprofit bringing these rejuvenating services to patients where and when they need it most: at their hospital bedside during treatment.
As patients undergo chemotherapy, our “Angels” treat them to a variety of wellness offerings, including hand massage, aromatherapy, and makeup/brow tutorials and application. Each provides a comforting ritual of human connection, physical touch, and self-care. Lipstick Angels has become a fixture in many patients’ fights with cancer, from the first day of chemo to the last. There is a growing body of scientific evidence that wellness services, like those Lipstick Angels provides, have a positive effect on the immune system that boosts the body’s own cancer-fighting abilities.
In six years, Lipstick Angels has served over 16,000 patients and launched programs in the following eight major cancer centers: NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, Columbia University Irving Medical Center, UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay, Stanford Health Care, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, the City of Hope National Medical Center, the Virginia Mason Medical Center and Bay Area Cancer Connections.
The past two years have been periods of tremendous expansion. In 2019 alone, Lipstick Angels doubled the number of programs we offer, from eight programs to sixteen programs across four regions: Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, and Seattle. In addition, we expanded our services with Clean Beauty and Wellness 101 classes at Bay Area Cancer Connections and UCSF Mission Bay.