If there is a social need, look no further than the beauty industry for help. Stylists are well known for possessing qualities of empathy, commitment and fidelity. This explains why the industry has developed or contributed to countless charities that truly make a difference. “The common ground for us as professionals, is that we are in a ‘feel good’ industry,” says Beth Hickey, Spa Specialties Representative, Arlington, TX, and Cut It Out supporter. “We want to do everything we possibly can for our clients and coworkers in making our environment better.”
Pink Hair for Hope has raised $2.5 million.
I have experienced the beauty of female philanthropy firsthand when my cousin, Wendy Marantz Levine, and I founded the Beauty Bus Foundation, which offers complimentary in-home beauty and grooming services for terminally and chronically ill people and their caregivers. The idea was sparked after my 28-year-old cousin Melissa Marantz Mauro fell ill with a degenerative neuromuscular disease, and I witnessed the difference a beauty treatment made in her daily life. Being somewhat of an industry veteran myself, I knew that I could depend on the people in this industry for support. Manufacturers came forward with product donations and funding, and the core of our industry—stylists, nail techs and estheticians—jumped on board to go to strangers’ homes and provide free services to those in need. The outpouring of support was humbling. However, I knew the power and the strength of our industry, and I was always confident the foundation would succeed.
The constant commitment of the industry to empower women is a common thread in the philanthropic endeavors of the women in beauty. From cancer to domestic violence to hair loss, this work empowers those who volunteer and those who benefit. Here, we highlight just a few of the charities created in the name of beauty. Many causes, organizations and individuals have been profoundly affected by the generosity of our industry. Their stories serve as inspiration, motivation and education for us all.
Pink Hair for Hope: Funding Research Through Hair Fashion
It has been the mission of SO.CAP.USA Hair Extensions to help raise funds to find a cure for breast cancer through research. “Year after year, we are proud to see Pink Hair for Hope being embraced by our salon partners and clientele allowing us all to work together to raise money that will go towards finding a cure for breast cancer,” says Ron Cardill, Sr., President of SO.CAP.USA. “As part of the ever-growing beauty industry, we understand that women want to feel good and we are here to assist women undergoing treatment by providing hair reconstruction programs and hair replacement alternatives for those with hair loss due to chemotherapy.”
Empowering stylists and salon owners to arm their clients with visual, fashion-forward support through the pink hair extensions sold through stylists to clients, SO.CAP.USA is able to fulfill its mission. With the help of thousands of salons nationally, the Pink Hair for Hope campaign has raised close to $2.5 million for many organizations, including the American Cancer Society and the National Breast Cancer Foundation. This year, all proceeds from pink extension sales will go to Young Survival Coalition, the premiere organization dedicated to the critical issues unique to young women who are diagnosed with breast cancer. Stylists can join Team Pink Hair for Hope by registering at pinkhairforhope.org.
Wigs 4 Kids: Giving Kids Confidence
Michigan stylist Maggie Varney saw a need and went to work. She had been donating her time to the charity Look Good, Feel Better since its inception, when 16-year-old Emily came to one of her classes. “I thought she was there in support of her mother,” shares Varney. Sadly, Emily was battling cancer—and losing her hair. “During class, she placed a poorly-styled, ill-fitting wig on the table and asked, ‘What do you do when you’re a kid? Where do you get a wig?’” Varney naively thought Emily could easily go to a local wig store. “They don’t make wigs for kids—they’re all old-lady looking,” Varney recalls Emily as saying. Thus Wigs 4 Kids (wigs4kids.org) was born.
A few years later, Varney realized that children and their families needed more than just a wig, and so she opened a Wellness Center in 2010. “At the center, we offer programming to include support services to help children and families heal emotionally, socially and psychologically,” shares Varney. All Wigs 4 Kids services are free of charge, but Varney’s work does not come cheap. “It takes roughly 10 to 12 ponytails and $800 to make a wig for a child.” Although the work is labor-intensive and emotionally challenging, “we need more people in our industry doing this work for kids,” says Varney.
Kendall Richardson styling wigs
Last year Wigs 4 Kids received more than 14,400 hair donations from 53 countries. Salons and stylists support Wigs 4 Kids by raising awareness and funds for the program and by putting the organization in touch with children who need services. Local stylists volunteer to cut hair and style wigs. Stylists can also take the Cut 4 A Cause hair restoration training, which is offered twice a year at the Wellness Center in Michigan.
Alissa Johnson, owner of Bellagio Hair Studio in Troy, MI, recently held a cut-a-thon and fundraiser to benefit the charity. In a Facebook Live video she states, “I held this event for Wigs 4 Kids, which was prompted by my friend Erika’s daughter’s desire to donate her hair. I thought it would be good to join forces, and all the proceeds went to Wigs 4 Kids.” Social media gives a platform to spread the word, raise funds and elevate the relevance of salons and stylists in philanthropic endeavors.
Varney and Kendall Richardson
Cut It Out: Dealing with Domestic Abuse
As professionals, we are in a very unique position with clients,” shares Hickey. “We’re told things we don’t ask to be told. We hold our clients’ hands during services and they trust us.” Oftentimes, victims of abuse don’t go to the police, but studies show they sometimes talk to people they trust. A program of the Professional Beauty Association, Cut It Out (probeauty.org/cutitout) uses this unique trust between stylist and client to teach stylists to recognize the signs and symptoms of domestic abuse and how to safely refer victims to resources.
Marcia Bird, Program Coordinator for the Cosmetology Department at Raritan Valley Community College in Branchburg, NJ, holds a Cut It Out training and candlelight vigil every October for her students. “It’s quite powerful and humbling,” she says. “[We have] speakers who are either survivors or family members of domestic violence victims.” At Raritan Community College, cosmetology students do a project around domestic violence utilizing resources from Cut It Out. Future professionals are connected to the cause at the very beginning of their careers.
Varney styling a wig
Sometimes, you can even help one of your own, says Bird. Three years ago, one of Bird’s students started to realize during training that she was in an abusive situation. Luckily for everyone, thanks to what she learned from Cut It Out, the woman was able to work with a domestic violence agency on the best way for her and her two children to leave. She is now a salon professional and she and her children are safe.
“Every salon and every school should administer this training,” believes Bird. In order to do good, create an empathetic and educated community of salon professionals, as well as create a networking opportunity for salons and future professionals, Bird invites the entire salon community. “It’s a great way to blend employers with potential employees, while having meaningful discussions,” she shares.
Look Good, Feel Better: Helping Women with Cancer
Look Good, Feel Better, one of the industry’s most well-known and well-respected programs, allows women with cancer to “regain some normalcy in a life that is by no means normal.” Started by a doctor who wanted to help a cancer patient who would not leave her hospital room because of her appearance, Look Good, Feel Better is supported by nearly 14,000 professional volunteers globally, who donate their time and talents to empower women to reclaim their confidence and self-esteem.
Yota, a volunteer, assists a young woman with a new wig
“I’ve been involved as a Look Good, Feel Better volunteer makeup artist for 15 years,” shares Jodie Hecker, a makeup artist from Gaithersburg, MD. “I enjoy teaching patients about skin care and makeup application, and seeing the transformation—both inside and out. I think I get as much out of it at the women who attend our sessions.”