What Does Beauty Mean To Cancer Survivors? Ask These Ladies
Nitasha Saxena and Eirini Hannah tell us about their experience of teaching cancer patients the art of makeup
A thing of beauty is a joy forever, or so we were told. But what does beauty mean to survivor of cancers? Especially those who have lost aspects of their facial features to rigorous chemotherapy! Through their programme My Makeup Moments, Nitasha Saxena and Eirini Hannah have been teaching cancer patients how to use the fine art of makeup to enhance their features. What is it like to enter the world of the cancer patients and give them a reason to smile? The Masala! Award-winning duo tells us over this chat!
What led you to start My Makeup Moments?
Nitasha: After building up our experiences and knowledge in makeup abroad, we both found ourselves in Dubai. I was leading the Kryolan Events team, managing and organising big events and taking the Kryolan Makeup team to great fashion shows and competitions, while Eirini was the makeup team ambassador. We both collaborated with some fantastic people along the way and were lucky enough to be part of some wonderful shows and events in the beauty scene of Dubai. Best of all, working together brought us to realise that apart from the passion and enthusiasm for what we did, we also shared same aspirations and ideas and there was so much more to do out there. This was the beginning of My Makeup Moments…
Can you recall some of the most heartwarming tales from your experiences with cancer survivors?
Eirini: Each and every person has their own story and all of them are equally heartwarming. However, there have been certain ladies who have captured our hearts and their incredible attitudes to their personal ordeals are examples of ultimate strength, positivity and inspiration. One of the many such examples that springs to mind is about a particular lady, Nitasha’s great aunt, who always perfectly groomed to the best of her ability and was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at the age of 90. However, this was not enough to stop her from hoping and living her life. She decided against going through chemotherapy and her whole family supported her decision. Up to the last month of her life, she still wished she could visit Dubai and have a beauty session with us!
Emotionally, how easy or difficult is it for you to establish a connection with them?
Nitasha: It depends on what stage of cancer or chemotherapy they are at and also on their individual support system. Psychology is a huge factor here and naturally it differs from person to person. Some ladies are more private, so during the workshops they prefer to watch and we see them absorbing all the information that is on offer. Others prefer to have more of a hands-on experience. They use all the tools and materials that we give them and are very keen to practice what they learn while others go a step even further by taking a seat on our makeup chairs and by volunteering to be our models! However, what is important for us is that no matter in which category they belong to, we always connect with them in a beautiful way and at the end of our sessions they all leave the room with a big smile. For us, this is the biggest satisfaction we can ask for!
To what extent do the participants execute the techniques you teach them in their day-to-day lives?
Eirini: It is impossible to guess how each individual uses what they have learned on a day-to-day basis and to what extent. However, based on the success rates of our workshops, on the repeat attendance rates as well as on individual feedback, it can be said that what is learnt is used to a great extent. The techniques we share with our audiences are customised to their needs as we have designed our workshops bearing in mind specific issues they have such as skin sensitivity. Moreover, our techniques, which are taught in a quick, step-by-step and easy-to-follow way making it extremely easy to use on a day-to-day basis. Some of the ladies who do keep in touch with us take 10 minutes to look in the mirror before heading out for the day and we are confident that many others do too.
How have the various beauty brands come together to support your initiative?
Nitasha: This is an ongoing process as we are always on the lookout for suitable brands and products. We are very particular with the brand selection we make due to the challenges that we have to take into consideration regarding skin sensitivity and level of coverage. Organic products, which do not contain harsh chemicals and are as skin friendly as possible, are ideal. We have been extremely lucky with our collaborations so far because our concept has found great support by companies such as The Chaloub Group with Sephora and L'Occitane products, The Body Shop and Glambox ME. We have also had fantastic support with other companies who believed in our concept and offered their valuable services such as Careem, Glambox ME and Bait Al Arab with their amazing turbans and we hope that we can continue with these partnerships as well as build new ones.
What does beauty mean to cancer survivors?
Nitasha and Eirini: While to most of us the word beauty is generally used to describe how positively others perceive an image and to what extent, we have come to realise through this experience that beauty is a lot more than that, especially to those people who have been through great shock, pain and fear. This is when you realise that unless we refer to inner beauty, what is more important to those individuals is life itself and survival. When we look at the faces of these brave ladies who come to us, eager to learn how to look more beautiful, we cannot help but notice their real beauty that they sometimes do not realise they have.