These homeless women got makeovers from MAC, because makeup is so much more powerful than people think

Most of us know the power of getting your hair and makeup done. It can seriously refresh your entire perspective on life. And even though DIY hair dye and playing around with contouring in your room is fun and does the trick, there’s something to be said for a professional job. Not only do the pros just know how to do things with eyeliner that some of us can’t — like always making sure the cat eye on the left is equal to the one on the right — makeovers and fresh haircuts can give us a sense of self-worth and validation that can be hard for anyone to find in the mirror some days. Which is exactly why the Alliance for Housing and Healing partnered with MAC cosmetics to give makeovers to formerly homeless women this week at the Public Service Salon in West Hollywood.

The event was chaired and organized in part by Eric Leonardos, a celebrity stylist best known for winning Logo’s Finding Prince Charming last year. Leonardos is also an activist for those living with HIV/AIDS and works at Public Service, so it was a perfect fit.

All of the women who received new looks on Monday are formerly homeless women who are living with HIV and most also live with mental health and substance abuse issues.

At Alliance, they’re rehabilitated in a safe space. Getting a makeover and celebrity-level haircut to raise awareness for the house and women such as them all over the country was just a bonus. Judging from the before and after pictures, it was a worthwhile day for the women and for the MAC and Public Service stylists.

Manuela: Before


Manuela: After


Leonardos told HelloGiggles over the phone that it was a pretty inspiring day. He said, “People often roll their eyes at something like a makeover, especially in the nonprofit world, and we think it’s so insignificant, like, ‘what does [makeup] matter?’”

He added,

"But we do look at ourselves in the mirror and we need to like what we see and sometimes the scars of our past are there, in our face, we can see them visually and feel them emotionally and we can have wounds and scars that are there forever emotionally as well and sometimes it’s nice to feel good about the way we look, when we look in the mirror, even if it’s just for a moment."

Last week, the MAC cosmetic team, which Leonardos described as “amazing,” did makeovers on six women from the group home and collaborated with Leonardos and his Public Service team for full hair and makeup treatments on another handful of women who no longer live in the group home, but still benefit from Alliance Housing & Healing’s services. Leonardos said one of the women he worked with blew him away with her story.

“She had a job at Aveda as an account manager and ‘got wrapped up in with the wrong crowd’ she told me,” Leonardos said. “She became an IV drug user and contracted HIV a few years ago and she has had a really difficult time taking care of herself. But she was under the watchful care of Alliance Housing and at one point she moved into their group home and participated in the rehab service and now she has a social worker and she also lives in one of their apartment homes now,” he said. That means that whatever Alliance is doing is working. 

"And she's real spunky...we took her from a really drab color that hadn’t been touched up in a while and covered up some her grey and gave her a vibrant red color and it really fit her personality and she really lit up."

Alliance Housing works on the assumption that housing is healthcare (which, for what it’s worth, it is). For women who are often overlooked or left out of the current healthcare system because of their income level, HIV status, or addiction, a safe place to live is the first step to “getting better.” Alliance runs rehabilitation programs and offers group housing with full assisted care, along with apartments for women who are on the up and up and even housing for single women living with the same issues but also have children to take care of.

Shaline: Before


Shaline: After


The house comes from a long tradition of group rehabilitation and healing houses founded in the 1980s at the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis, when many survivors were left homeless due to their diagnosis, treatment, and even stigma. Now, it is the leading provider of HIV/AIDS care and directly related services in Los Angeles County.

Desiree: Before


Desiree: After


Terry Goddard II, Executive Director of Alliance for Housing and Healing said in a statement:

“I cannot tell you how much this event means to our clients. Their joy and gratitude are immeasurable. This kind of activity helps to build self-esteem and pride. When our clients look in the mirror they see themselves in a whole new and wonderful light."

This also isn’t the first time that MAC has supported those living with HIV/AIDS. The MAC AIDS Fund is supported by sales of their Viva Glam Lipstick and Lipglass, with 100 percent of profits going to organizations that serve those living with HIV/AIDS around the world. The makeup company is one of the largest corporate, non-pharmaceutical donors to HIV/AIDS programs.

So if you’re looking for a way to branch out and support women during Women’s History Month, you can buy yourself a new lipstick to support programs like Alliance’s Beauty Day. Or cut to the chase and donate to Alliance Housing & Healing directly to help women who need it the most. You can donate cash or buy a $25 personal hygiene kit that the organization gives to their clients who are still on the street. If you need some wall decor, a $15 donation will get you a “Best in Drag” calendar for your office.

Whether it’s basic hygiene or a full blown makeover, self-care means everything.