If there’s a skin cream, makeup base, mascara or lipstick that Harvey Helms hasn’t tried — and that’s a big if — then it just might not exist.
The beauty industry exec turned Silicon Valley stylist is the author of the 2013 book “Blush: The Unbelievably Absurd Diary of a Gay Beauty Junkie,” which in semiautobiographical form told of more than a decade at Revlon, where he rose to global director of education. His 35 years in the industry includes consulting for Ralph Lauren Beauty and key positions at Donna Karan Beauty and Luxottica eyewear, too.
Helms loves makeup and self-improvement — just ask the lawyers, doctors and other women on his roster whose faces, wardrobes and home interiors he has transformed. Now, he loves startups, too, most notably his own: Harvey Helms Beauty.
The budding line is inspired by his clients — busy women who asked him for edited color and skin-care collections they could trust for the multiple events in their lives.
“Think about it — work, soccer mom, girl’s night out, hot date, public speaker, red carpet, Saturday shopping and the list goes on and on, depending on the woman,” Helms said. “I still see women in Sephora staring at the millions of products wondering which is right for her. Harvey Helms Beauty will help cut through the clutter.”
The line is a nontraditional startup, in tech terms, yet backed by financiers and Silicon Valley executives. At a launch party in May at the Atherton home of Jennifer and Chip Lutton, chief legal counsel for Nest, Helms held a makeup party where dozens of guests got to try the 15 colored lipsticks ($20, with light vanilla flavor and names like “See Thru,” “Peony” and “French Kiss”); camera-ready primer ($38, does not contain sunscreen, which reflects light when photos are taken, creating flashback, a whitened distortion of the appearance); mousse foundation ($38, four shades); translucent blotting powder ($38); eye and lip primer ($28, two shades); and one bronzer ($38). The line is paraben- and cruelty-free, made in Canada, and intended for women of all ethnicities.
“We live in the land of tech startups, and in my backyard there were all these people who said, ‘I’ll be glad to talk to you about this — I don’t know anything about beauty, but I could look at business models,’ and asked whether I had an interesting idea and whether it would fulfill a need in this billion-dollar industry with millions of products.”
More products are planned in coming months, as is a second book, “Blink,” about his time in the eyewear industry. He is also working on a film version of “Blush.”
Carolyne Zinko is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org