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March 31, 2021
March 31, 2021
via Thrive Causemetics

From women’s initiatives to politically charged lipsticks, the once seemingly contradictory worlds of activism and beauty are converging even further.

The average woman spends 9 days each year applying makeup and approximately $95,000 on her appearance during her lifetime. So while of course there are those campaigning for #nomakeup, as long as we are physical beings, there will be some time, thought, and finances going into the care of our bodies and (optional) decorations.

Whether it’s barely-there products that accentuate one’s natural beauty, a complete dismissal of any makeup whatsoever, or the extravagant creations of self-expression—complete with false lashes, contouring, and overdrawn lips—that rule Instagram, personal empowerment and the beauty industry have a multifaceted relationship. Despite having one of the highest percentage of women working in the sector, positions of power in the beauty industry still predominantly belong to men. Female-led start-ups such as Glossier and Birchbox contribute to 20% of overall start-ups, while 34% of women are in board seats and 24% in executive positions at beauty companies.

Naturally there are matters of internalized misogyny, deeply ingrained consumerist mindsets, and the presumption that beauty brands should simply stay in their lane and not mix politics and cosmetics. For the conscious consumer, putting their dollar (or local currency) towards enterprises that funnel their profits toward making a positive change is one way to demonstrate their personal stance and beliefs. 66% of millennials and Gen Zers want brands to promote progressive values, play a more substantial part in society, and get involved in larger debates, be it electoral politics or the Black Lives Matter movement. Millennials are 30% more likely to buy from a brand that donates to a charity, while 87% of Gen Zers expect brands to do more than produce products, although they are more invested in social as opposed to political topics like their millennial counterparts.

In a world of tokenism and performative one-offs, the brands truly putting their money where their mouths are have personal empowerment built into their DNA. BeautyMatter rounded up 9 brands looking to improve the world, one product at a time.

“Support and empowerment of women should be a social norm, not a political hot pot."
By Bill Xiang

Thrive Causemetics: Founded in 2015 by Karissa Bodnar, a former L’Oréal product manager who has since garnered a spot on Forbes’ America’s Self-Made Women 2020 and 30 Under 30-Retail & Ecommerce lists, Thrive Causemetics is a clean beauty wunderkind and self-made success. The brand boasts a vegan and cruelty-free range of makeup and skincare established in the spirit of a friend of Bodnar who passed away from cancer at just 24 years old. “Thrive Causemetics is Bigger Than Beauty: For every product you purchase, we donate to help a woman thrive,” the company states.

In 2020, the brand gave back to over 200 nonprofits targeted to helping homeless women, domestic abuse survivors, cancer survivors, and female veterans. Its mission is proving popular; in the last year the company generated an estimated $150 million in revenue, and is rumored to be exploring a sale or IPO with Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

The Lipstick Lobby: “We are a social justice movement for change, progress and equality. We empower women through statement lip products to fight for the issues most critical to our lives,” states The Lipstick Lobby, creator of cosmetics and #LipstickItToTheMan. Each product launch donates 100% of net profits to a different cause: In the Clear balm supports the UnPrison Project, Kiss My Pink donates to Planned Parenthood, and FIRED UP contributes to The Brady Center to prevent gun violence.

REALHER: The color cosmetics brand was founded by Bill Xiang, proof that feminism isn’t confined to female-identifying people. Inspired by the birth of his own daughter and his realization of societal impacts on women, Xiang developed RealHer with makeup artist Megan Merid. “Support and empowerment of women should be a social norm, not a political hot pot,” Xiang tells BeautyMatter. Each products bears a motivational and empowering slogan on its packaging, and the company also volunteers with and donates to humanitarian nonprofits. “Each REALHER product speaks to you with the bold affirmations that we incorporate into every piece, it’s like having your biggest supporter in your purse ready to cheer you on,” Merid adds.

Beautiful Rights: There is power in numbers—Beautiful Rights donates 20% of all sales to organizations like Legal Momentum and Planned Parenthood to symbolize the 20% less that women are paid compared to their male counterparts. “We believe that now, more than ever, it is us as individuals and citizens of this country who must take on the responsibility of supporting one another and the organizations that aid in doing so,” the Beautiful Rights team proclaims. Products include the Gloss Ceiling Lip Gloss, Healing Balm, and United Shade of America Universal Brow Pencil, emphasizing its mission to fight for women’s rights and against gender injustice.

Lipslut: Lipslut is not for the faint of heart. Katie Sones was inspired to create the brand the night of Trump’s inauguration, creating products with names such as F*ck Trump (a rosy pink liquid lipstick) and No Malarkey, and lip glosses made of male tears. “I was fueled by the belief that beauty could empower people to fight the issues affecting their communities through everyday purchases,” she states. To date, the brand has raised over $200,000 in funds for charities such as the National Organization for Women.

Senteurs d’Orient: This artisanal body care brand, known for its handcrafted soaps made in Beirut, boasts a 90% female workforce. Run by mother Hana Debs Akkari and her daughter Sarah Akkari, the company founded Senteurs Women Initiatives, developed in partnership with the United Nations Development Program, to empower women in Lebanon by supporting local nonprofits. “Driven by female entrepreneurial spirit, Senteurs d’Orient is committed to keeping female empowerment at the heart of our brand. Doing good = feeling good,” the company states.

Bopo Women: Body positivity lies at the heart of Bopo Women, founded by Bronwyn Stange and inspired by her own battle with an eating disorder and negative body image. Speaking on the topic of self-fulfillment, she asks: “Wouldn’t it be incredible if there were face, body & bath products that actually embodied these values, that actually cared about women & that actually wanted women to enjoy the experience of being inside their own skin?” The range is comprised of plant-based formulas, all packaging is illustrated with the work of multidisciplinary artist Vanja Vukelic, and each container has a different “bopoism,” or empowering mantra, printed on it.

MUTHA: With the tagline “Self-care is never selfish,” MUTHA is an ode to the female body throughout all stages of life. Hope Smith founded the brand after concocting her own stretch-mark salve, and the brand has since expanded to face care, made from ingredients with 97-100% natural origin. 5% of sales are donated to midwife and nurse education programs. “By supporting MUTHA, you won’t just be taking care of yourself—you’ll be taking care of women from Africa to Asia to ensure they can deliver their children safely,” declares the company’s mission statement. “Together, we can boldly MUTHA the world into a better, more beautiful place.”

Hear Me Raw: Face masks can go beyond improving your skin. Harnessing the power of raw materials like prickly pear and chlorophyll, Hear Me Raw offers four refillable face masks (hydrating, brightening, detoxifying, clarifying) in reusable glass containers, but its ultimate goal is “to reshape the industry, challenging virtually every convention, towards a foundation of doing what’s truly best for people’s health (physical and mental), happiness, wealth and world around them.” The brand, which has a Beauty + Being content platform with political thought pieces and guides from wellness experts, joined the 2020 Women’s March and recently joined forces with Global Citizen. “In our own lives and our business, our team members strive to be responsible global citizens and focus on the greater good,” comments founder Mike Indursky, former President of Bliss and CMO of Burt’s Bees.


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