Beauty 2 the Streetz: How haircuts and makeup help LA’s unhoused residents feel validated and seen

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For Beauty 2 the Streetz founder Shirley Raines, beauty is both a luxury and necessity. The LA-based nonprofit provides unhoused people with beauty services, hygiene products, and food

“You gotta remember — this is a community that’s visible yet unseen. Some of these women haven’t been touched in a welcoming, consenting way in years,” Raines says. “And here we come along, and we gently put our hands on their chin to gently lift their heads to put on eyelashes. Or we ask them to trust us and close their eyes to wash their hair.” 

Raines adds that when talking about beauty, it’s not just about how someone looks, but how they feel. “They feel special. They feel validated. … It’s all about them for the next ten minutes.” 

Raines grew up in Compton and has always seen makeup as an adult game of make-believe and dress-up. She says, “In make-believe, you haven’t had these tragedies in your life. Draw your eyebrows on so high with the arch of surprise, so no one knows if you’re sad or happy.” 

Doing someone’s hair or makeup won’t immediately get them off the streets, but it’s a positive experience for them, and Raines sees the benefit of investing in that. 

This Saturday, Raines is hosting a “Carnival-Themed Skid Row Give Back,” which will have food, games, beauty services, and hygiene products.