Some of you may remember when The Body Shop launched, back in 1976. Apart from an intriguing range of products inspired by global cultural beauty rituals, what was compelling was the messaging from brand founder Anita Roddick: through The Body Shop I first became aware of the movement against animal testing, pro natural ingredients and recycling. Roddick called out environmental issues and allied with Greenpeace to save whales and promote community trade, working against exploitation of manufacturers in developing countries. It was the beginning of a beauty brand having a bigger, more caring message than simply selling products.
Others had gone before: Beauty Without Cruelty, launched in 1963, pioneered products NOT tested on animals and many others followed, perhaps most famously M.A.C with its Viva Glam campaign in 1994 which launched the M.A.C Aids fund to support HIV/Aids research, as well as continuing awareness raising campaigns such as 2015’s MACnificent Me . Then there was the groundbreaking Dove’s Real Beauty campaign in 2004, Cancer Research’s 2014 #nomakeupselfie campaign, Johnson & Johnson Clean & Clear 2016 #SeeTheRealMe campaign – and the rest.
Now, with a millennial generation for whom the future looks bleak (impossible house prices, an unsteady economy, global wars, terrorism) the desire to take charge of something in their lives is overwhelming and it’s playing out partly via a wellness trend which embraces honesty in beauty.
It’s only a short step from here to activism, which can range from positive labelling with shorthand statements such as vegan, cruelty-free, biodegradable, paraben-free and organic, expressing succinctly what a brand stands for, to bigger messaging. True Botanicals, the US natural brand signed actress Olivia Wilde as its banner-waving advocate Then there’s the haircare brand Rahua, that started as Ecoagents, an NGO dedicated to protecting indigenous communities and their rainforest homes which eventually morphed into a product range. The make-up brand Illamasqua, which refused to sell products to Republican voters as an anti-Trump pledge has continued to champion tolerance via the S.O.P.H.I.E. campaign to support the Sophie Lancaster Foundation set up after the young woman was kicked to death for looking different. Make-up artist brand Ellis Faas this year launched the Makeup Not War campaign to support War Child with proceeds from sales of a limited edition vegan Hot Lip lipstick going towards supporting a child affected by war.
On our radar and arriving soon in our BeautyMART store in Topshop and online is Water Aid and Clean the World supporter Soaper Duper, a body care brand with guilt-free washing as its USP. The range of shower gels, lotions and body butters are free-from what they term ‘the usual suspects’: plastic mircorbeads, parabens, phthalates, SLS/SLES and Cocamide DEA foaming agents, BP-2 sunscreen, Tricolasan and MIT anti-bacterial agents. The products come in recycled and recyclable packaging and the bubble shaped bottles with their peel-of labels are nicely up-cycleable, as water bottles or mini watering cans.
To be heard and make a difference, you have to have a voice and put it out there, whether that be through a brand or some other platform. Model and feminist activist Adwoa Aboah founded the charity Gurlstalk.com as a place for young women to share stories in writing or thorough art.
Aboah suffered from depression which resulted in drug abuse and a suicide attempt. Finding that the path to finding herself again began with talking about and sharing how she felt, she established Gurlstalk as a platform for empowerment.
The empowerment of women is the theme of the launch issue of Mission magazine, a truly philanthropic media brand, set up as a public charity by British New York based fashion stylist Karina Givargisoff who wanted to take positive action after the death of her mother and brother and feeling helpless knowing that a dear friend had breast cancer. It took two years to put together and the result is truly uplifting. Subscribe to the online magazine for $6 to donate to women and girls focused charities.
Meanwhile, here at BeautyMART we’ve just joined forces with other industry leaders to establish a group called the British Beauty Lobby which aims to put beauty issues affecting our industry and ultimately you, our customers, in front of the government. If you’re involved in the beauty industry in any way, whether you’re in hairdressing, cosmetics, cosmetic surgery, therapy, spa and whether you work in formulation, manufacture, packaging, design, retail or media, sign up and have your voice and opinions heard and – more importantly – acted on!