Beyond the packaging and marketing spiel they need to have a point of view, a political purpose, a means of social improvement or, at the very least, the balls to shout about what they believe in.
Where the wider world and political sphere can leave us feeling demoralised, the choices we make for ourselves, including what we put in our makeup bags are important. “Aligning ourselves with beauty brands that are using their platforms to empower, embattle and break down boundaries, puts the power back in our hands,” says Cult Beauty founder, Alexia Inge.
What sparks the decisions behind our purchases today? For beauty it could be anything from friend-recommendations, favourable past experiences, or even shiny, persuasive packaging. But, beyond that? What do the brands we choose to align ourselves with say about us? For a brand to connect with us or inspire loyalty (harder than ever, in today’s oversaturated climate), it’s as much about what they stand for as the products they deliver.
Look to the success stories of the past few years, and you’ll notice it’s the rebellious, outspoken, socially, environmentally and politically charged brands that are firing us up. Consider Fenty Beauty, the brand founded by Rihanna, who refused to concede that darker-skinned shades just don’t sell. She coined a revolution – The Fenty Effect – the ripples of which are still being felt today. She rapidly increased inclusivity across the industry and initiated a surge in brands diversifying their shade range. Her company is said to be worth £500 million – just in case any doubters were still wondering what ‘sells’.
Then there’s Soaper Duper, the lesser-known side hustle created by Beauty Pie founder, Marcia Kilgore. Alongside being packaged in earth-conscious recycled plastic, each sale helps towards the brand’s goal of raising over £200,000 for WaterAid. By buying them, you can directly contribute to bringing clean water to thousands of people in some of the world’s poorest communities.
MAC’s ongoing Viva Glam campaign celebrates its 26th year this year. Over the course of two and a half decades of alliance, the brand has raised more than £400 million for HIV/Aids organisations and worked tirelessly to raise awareness of LGBTQ+ causes.
Dove teamed up with Getty Images, Girl Gaze and a network of female-identifying and non-binary photographers to create the world’s largest photo database of women. In order to widen the spectrum of images open to advertisers, the media and thus displayed to the public, the photos are available for any Getty users to access worldwide. The money goes straight back to the creatives behind the photos to give female creatives a boost in an industry widely dominated by men.
And brands like Herbivore, Lush and Charlotte Tilbury have used their platforms – and their profits – to fight for abortion rights, rally against climate change and support women war survivors.