MARIE CLAIRE - These Beauty Volunteers Will Give You Reason to Believe the World Is Still Good | Macaela Mackenzie

These Beauty Volunteers Will Give You Reason to Believe the World Is Still Good - Michelle DeLuca has been in awe of the power of a beauty treatment to make a woman feel amazing since she first entered the industry over a decade ago. “I'm very passionate about the beauty industry and the joy it brings my clients,” she says. “When I have a treatment, I feel uplifted. I feel good about myself, rejuvenated. That’s how beauty treatments can make you feel—confident. Empowered. They can change your perspective.”

DeLuca sees the beyond-skin-deep effects of beauty treatments every day in her practice as a licensed aesthetician. But there’s one place caring for others feels particularly powerful: cancer treatment centers.

Giving Women Wings

(Image credit: Michelle DeLuca)

DeLuca is a volunteer with Lipstick Angels, an organization founded by celebrity makeup artist Renata Helfman in 2012 to bring some much-needed self-care to women fighting cancer. With a team of volunteer beauty pros, Lipstick Angels sets up shop in cancer treatment centers at hospitals around the country, offering bedside pampering services like facials, makeup applications, aromatherapy, and hand massages for women who are at their most vulnerable.

Looking for a way to share the confidence-boosting power of a little self-care beyond her own clients, DeLuca got involved with the Angels in 2016. She was particularly impressed with the fact that the organization partners with Credo Beauty, using only chemical-free, ethically-sourced products, a boon for patients who need to be extra careful with their health.

Sitting with a woman—and making her feel beautiful—as she receives a chemotherapy infusion is a profound experience, DeLuca says. It gives a deeper sense of purpose to what can be easy to write off as a superficial facial. “We're able to provide this amazing service and touch people's lives, and they're able to feel more confident and empowered,” she says. “It's very humbling knowing that you're able to give back and that you've definitely made an impact and a difference in someone's life.”

"Making a woman feel beautiful as she receives a chemotherapy infusion is a profound experience."

The beauty that comes from this simple act of care goes both ways. “Every shift, I'm inspired by the stories that patients share with me,” says DeLuca, who volunteers with Lipstick Angels at City of Hope in California once a month. “I'm meeting people of every age and demographic—it helps me become more understanding and compassionate. Working for this organization, I see the gratitude from both patients and nurses. It inspires me to give back in my treatment room and in my own daily life.”

The Beauty of Caring

Some women are hesitant at first, DeLuca says. “We would never force a service—we create a safe space for our patients by having a connection so they feel comfortable,” she explains. Sometimes this means creating custom treatments for women. “We can offer things other than makeup and take it in baby steps,” she explains. “Perhaps do a little aromatherapy or a little lip and cheek or something not so dramatic.” Most of the time, patients are down. As DeLuca builds deeper relationships with the women, she sees them become more confident and open to a little more self-care.

(Image credit: Michelle DeLuca)

The work is not just about appearance, DeLuca stresses.

“We help these women feel better, not just in terms of their appearance, but also in terms of their basic self-care practices, which are crucial to their recovery,” she says. “Spending quality time with each patient is our priority.”

The impact this kind of care can have on women is captured in their reviews. DeLuca's favorite part of volunteering with Lipstick Angels is reading comment cards from patients. “They just write that they feel so great about themselves—the gratitude is really high,” she says. “One that stands out to me recently was from a woman who was in a place where she didn’t really feel like putting on makeup or anything like that when I met her. But Lipstick Angels inspired her to want to prioritize self-care more—I thought that was really amazing.”