Metro Giving: Beauty in a time of illness

Rikki Appleman just finished radiation therapy.

Welcome back to Metro Giving! Every other Tuesday, Metro features New Yorkers who have decided to make a difference in their community, plus ways you can get involved and help out. Want to recommend someone to be featured in Metro Giving? E-mail

In 1997, makeup artist Ramy Gafni had achieved what he thought was the peak of his career. He was employed at a top Fifth Avenue salon and had just started to work with celebrity clients.

Then, at the age of 31, he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Chemo made him lose his thick curly hair. He gained 30 pounds. And then the final indignity: The salon fired him, saying, “You’re not the pretty boy we once hired.”

That was all the motivation Gafni needed. He launched his own brand of cosmetics out of his studio apartment. Allure magazine praised his work in eyebrow shaping. By the time his products were sold at Bergdorf Goodman, Gafni knew he had made it.

Now he works with everyone from Taylor Swift to Rihanna.

But he hasn’t forgotten a time when he felt less than beautiful.

“You’re going through treatment, your hair is falling out and suddenly there’s a stranger staring at you in the mirror,” he said of cancer.

For the past 10 years, Gafni has taught classes at CancerCare on Seventh Avenue. He provides free wigs and makeup consultations for women battling the disease.

“People think the cosmetic industry can be so superficial, but it’s really about doing something really powerful that helps people,” he said.

“When you’re fighting for your life, you want to use every tool at your disposal,”?he added. “And that includes the right blush and concealer.”

Donate and win

Gafni is trying to raise $20,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma
Society. If you donate through, you will be eligible to win
prizes ranging from a year of free brow-shaping, $1,400 worth of
free products or a free home or spa makeup party.

Follow Carly Baldwin on Twitter at @CarlyatMetro.


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