A Little Makeup Goes a Long Way

On the day before her 56th birthday, Jackie Backus found a reason to smile. On July 21, she found a lump in her breast and not long after she started chemo, she began losing her hair.

But on a recent weekday, she opened up a pink zipper bag filled with every woman’s version of eye candy – hundreds of dollars worth of complimentary makeup. She spent the next hour with two cosmetologists who taught her to apply the facial products and also how to create beautiful headpieces to crown her head.

“The reality started to hit when I started losing my hair and I really got into a funk,” said Backus, a mother and grandmother. “I just want to smile.”

Loni Wilson, a cosmetologist, has volunteered with the American Cancer Society for eight years to present “Look Good…Feel Better,” a free service for women facing cancer. The American Cancer Society is a partner with the IU Health Cancer Resource Center.

The makeover started with concealer: “We can’t change everything but we can make you feel better,” said Wilson. And Backus learned a few pointers along the way:

  • The ring finger is used to apply foundation and eye shadow because there is less pressure.
  • If you use makeup brushes, clean them daily to reduce bacteria.
  • Apply foundation up through the hairline, to conceal the forehead in case the wig slips.
  • Eyeliner will help make the eyes brighter if the lashes fall out.

After the makeover, Wilson showed Backus how to tie scarves and accessorize her look so there is less emphasis on her head and more emphasis on the style.

Backus left with a smile and plans to celebrate her birthday with a night out.

“I come from a long line of strong women and I want to be strong for the women in my family. This helps.”

— T.J. Banes