ghd Partners With Mastectomy Tattoo Artist David Allen To Support Breast Cancer Survivors
ghd x David Allen Create ink on pink Collection To Support Cancer Survivors
As hairdressers, we know that our industry touches more hearts than heads. Those impactful moments when a client sits in your chair as one person, and leaves as the best possible version of themselves, serve our greatest purpose as beauty professionals. When the power of transformation is so great, it has the ability to heal and reignite confidence that can change lives. Here’s how one tattoo artist and major hair brand are coming together to use that power to support breast cancer survivors.
ghd is celebrating their 15th anniversary supporting breast cancer charities by collaborating with Chicago-based mastectomy tattoo artist David Allen (@davidallen). David has created an original design based on his acclaimed work with mastectomy scars, the ink on pink styler collection, which will support the nonprofit organization Living Beyond Breast Cancer. BTC was onsite for the inspiring campaign shoot at David’s studio with breast cancer survivor Grace Lombardo, stylist Christina McCarver, the ghd team and David—read the powerful story below.
How David Uses Ink & Flowers To Transform Mastectomy Scars
For almost a decade, David has been using his craft to transform scars into deeply personal and beautifully detailed artwork. He’s widely recognized within the medical community, and consults with oncologists for advice when creating these intricate designs. A common theme throughout his work: ethereal, floral and botanical imagery. As the only ‘editable design,’ flowers are chosen because they symbolize life, rebirth and femininity, empowering women and giving back the control they have over their bodies.
“I choose floral and botanical imagery because it’s organic: it can be altered and tweaked,” shares David. “Some women have cancer recurrence, sadly, and with floral imagery you can add a branch, a leaf, a petal. Some women have connections with different types of flowers: it can be from a childhood memory, for example. Women seem to attach meaning to very specific flowers. They find beauty within it whether it’s rebirth or life.”
Inside The Process: The Journey To Healing
In 2010, a woman from New York kept getting in touch with David about his tattoos. She had a single mastectomy and construction, and wanted a tattoo over her scarring. David had never done this kind of tattoo before, but he knew the skin would heal differently. She was so persistent that he ended up flying to Baltimore to meet her.
“During this process I was hands on with someone and watching them heal,” shares David. “I was using my craft and work which overwhelmed me–I had to take a break and weep.” David, the woman and her husband all shared an experience so powerful, it changed all of their lives forever. “She cried the whole time; her husband was also in tears because she wasn’t previously able to look at herself because she didn’t recognize herself and her body,” shares David. “Suddenly throughout this process, her body became hers again—she took control and decided how she wanted her body to look when it had been previously something she wasn’t able to control. It was overwhelming.”
He posted the before and after on social media and it went viral. “You don’t often get to help someone and see direct results. It’s hard not to be selfish because you do get a return as well,” shares David. “It’s amazing to be able to be a small fraction of people’s lives and stories.” Now, David does between 6 to 8 mastectomy tattoos a month.
“It’s a long process and takes a whole day to complete. But the process is collaborative, I work on different designs and share them with the women, I ask them for genuine feedback and we work together to make the changes to capture her vision too. Some women have a chemo port, or horizontal line scars from their surgery, or dimpling on the side and they stand in the mirror and will show me these scars—something for them is so ‘obvious’ but for me is not—I don’t see them how they see themselves. So, they will then set a hierarchy of what’s important for them. That then dictates the design.” – David Allen
The ink on pink Collection: Placing Delicate Designs On A Powerful Tool
Laid against a delicate pink color, David’s ethereal floral designs are now tattooed on both the ghd platinum+ styler and ghd gold® styler for a limited time. Plus, ten dollars from every styler will be donated to Living Beyond Breast Cancer.
The Design Process: From Concept To Creative Design
“The connection with ghd and this partnership makes sense. The amount of effort, thought and money they put into helping women with cancer all over the world is extraordinary. I know I chose to do it because I believed in the company. ghd invited me over to London, they opened their doors and let me sit down with product designers and learn about the printing process. We designed a hair straightener together.
I treated it as if it were an arm or a leg, a person’s body. I did the same process that I would with the mastectomy tattoos. I picked the flowers, I photographed them, hand drew different patterns and we came up with 30 to 40 ideas. It was incredible. The whole process was wrapped in love and emotion. I was pretty hands on which was so important to me. What I do is very insular, so when this message and these women’s story is out on a grander scheme, that’s beautiful. I want people to see the power and the beauty of these women and the choices they made.” – David Allen
The Campaign Shoot: Meet The Faces Behind The Campaign
We were grateful to spend the day with Grace Lombardo, a 38-year-old mother of three in Chicago, one of the faces of this year’s pink campaign. For Grace and Molly Weingart, who worked with David following their own treatments, their mastectomy tattoos have allowed them to reclaim the femininity that cancer began to steal away.
“Cancer takes away more than your breasts,” shares Grace Lombardo, a 38-year-old mother of three in Chicago. “It takes your hair, your confidence. But my tattoo is something I decided to have, because I wanted to take back control.”
Watch Grace’s Campaign Video & See The BTS Photos From The Shoot!
For more information on the ink on pink campaign, visit ghdhair.com/us.