Look Good, Feel Better – Remembering a Hero, Sharing a Legacy

285 RememberingHeroMad Men’s lead makeup artist describes how giving the gift of beauty to cancer patients has helped heal her too.

By Lana Horochowski

 

I grew up in Texas, a place where women generally don’t step out to get the mail without a full face of makeup and every hair in place. My love for makeup developed in large part thanks to my aunt, a beautiful woman who embodied that Texas stereotype in every way. She was always perfectly put together, from the top of her head to the tips of her toes. She was one of my childhood heroes.

In late 2002 she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. The doctors told her that she had six months or fewer to live. The family was devastated. We vowed to help her to fight—to keep her with us for as long as we possibly could.

She was devastated, too, but not for the same reasons as the rest of us. Her first question for the doctor was simply: “Am I going to lose my hair?” The answer was yes.

In the following weeks, as chemo began and hair, eyelashes, and brows fell out, and as her skin began to gray and flake and her nails became brittle, she lost her will to live. She would not leave the house, would not get out of bed. We all begged her to fight, and we could not imagine how her appearance could have such a devastating effect on her determination. But when her outward identity faded away, so did her resolve to survive. Just months after the initial diagnosis, my aunt passed away.

 

Look Good Feel Better: More Than Makeup—Transformation

When a friend connected me a few months ago with Look Good Feel Better, I thought the program seemed like a nice idea—makeup lessons for cancer patients, a few hours of fun and escape. Something that, based on my expertise, I could easily help with. It would be an easy way for me to give back.

Then I had the opportunity to sit in on a workshop, and I realized how much more than “makeup lessons” this program is for women in cancer treatment.

The women who walked into the room looked sad, uncomfortable, and lonely. As they went through the process of balancing skin tone, defining their eyes and drawing in brows, adding color to their faces, and trying on hair styles, it was as though they were being brought back to life. They were transformed physically and emotionally.

They started smiling, laughing, and sharing stories about what they had been through—stories of how, since they started treatment, their husbands didn’t look at them the same way, of how their young children were afraid when they took off their wigs, of how co-workers treated them differently. Many of them said that this was the first opportunity they had had to really be honest and explained what an incredible feeling of release that was.

When they left they were not only beautiful but full of life and light. They were talking about going out to lunch together and excited about being out in public, looking like the beautiful women they are. Over the course of two hours, I came to realize that Look Good Feel Better is not simply “makeup lessons.” It provides confidence, support, comfort, and a community of women whose shared experience creates an important bond. It puts the pieces back together, restores identity, changes perspective, and changes lives.

I cried all the way home from that workshop. I cried, thinking of my aunt and all that she had been through, and I wondered if this program could have renewed her confidence and self-esteem in the final months of her life. I cried, thinking about the hundreds of thousands of women around the country who could benefit from Look Good Feel Better, and I was determined to do everything I could to ensure that every woman undergoing cancer treatment has the opportunity to experience what I did.  _

 

 

The Look Good Feel Better program was founded and developed in 1989 by the Personal Care Products Council Foundation, a charitable organization established by the Personal Care Products Council, the leading national trade association representing the global cosmetic and personal care products industry. The program is a collaboration of the Personal Care Products Council Foundation, the American Cancer Society, and the Professional Beauty Association, a national organization that includes salons, spas, distributors, manufacturers, and more than 25,000 beauty professionals. For more information please visit lookgoodfeelbetter.org.

 

Lana Horochowski is a four-time Emmy-nominated makeup artist and Look Good Feel Better national ambassador. Lana currently heads the makeup department of AMC’s hit television series Mad Men and is also working on an upcoming film, Million Dollar Arm. Lana’s credits include a range of television shows, documentaries, and films. Some of her most notable work (in addition to Mad Men) includes five years working on the HBO show True Blood and the movies Superbad and Georgia Rule.

 

Overcoming the Obstacles: A Virtual First Step

Let’s face it, signing up for and attending a workshop can be intimidating. I was intimidated, and I am a makeup artist who was just there to observe.

I was excited to learn that Look Good Feel Better (LGFB) has launched a set of new tools that provide a glimpse into the program from the comfort of home—or anywhere—on a smartphone, tablet, or computer.

The LGFB Beauty app is available free from the App Store. It lets you try on a series of completed makeup looks—Classic, Glam, and Natural—and several different hair alternatives using a photo of yourself. It is a simple way to explore different styles and looks.

In addition, the tool allows you to experience the complete 12-step LGFB makeover. It is really fun to play with colors, techniques, and product combinations. As a bonus, each page of the online tool features videos hosted by makeup artist Carmindy, who offers a step-by-step walkthrough for those who are interested in trying the techniques themselves. I have really loved playing around with the tool, and I recently used it to re-create the looks of our four female leads in Mad Men, using one of the LGFB models!

While it is hard to replicate the experience and the camaraderie of a live LGFB workshop, these tools open the door to what can be a transformative program. When I think of my aunt, I cannot help but picture her attending an LGFB workshop. I can only imagine that she would have embraced the experience and would have been the life of the party. Her grace and beauty inspired me to embrace makeup as a career and a passion, and, like all heroes, she inspires me now to do better each and every day.

The Look Good Feel Better online tool is available at lookgoodfeelbetter.org/virtual-makeover. Download or log in and have some fun with these fantastic new tools, and then visit lookgoodfeelbetter.org, type your ZIP code into the program finder, and get registered for a workshop. You will be so, so glad you did.