Not Just Skin Deep: Socially Conscious Beauty Brands

By Erin Donnelly

On its surface, the beauty industry may come across as a little, well, superficial. Real beauty may come from within, but it’s pretty easy to lose sight of that when we’re obsessing over that hot new lipstick or perfume brought to us by (shudder) Paris Hilton.

Fortunately, a few socially conscious beauty brands are more than willing to keep themselves-and us shoppers-in check. Whether it’s a charitable initiative or a message with substance, these top brands have created wonderful reminders that, while good looks may come and go, a good heart will last forever.

Dove pic11

Dove wants to help females feel comfortable in their own skin-and not just because it’s soft, smooth and moisturized. Through its Campaign for Real Beauty initiative, the skincare brand has created an inspirational network that celebrates real women-and real beauty, wrinkles and all-from all over the world.

“Real women” includes young girls as well, with a special Dove Self-Esteem Fund devoted to guiding girls through their body fixations and questions. Here young females can dish about their body hang-ups, get information about what changes their body might be experiencing, debunk body and beauty myths, and enjoy interactive features that promote self-acceptance and confidence.

And if you’re tired of seeing half-naked supermodels strut across your TV screen, check out Dove’s film gallery, which features entertaining yet powerful clips that celebrate imperfections.

Now that’s real beauty.


Wash your hair, save the rainforest.

pic21Okay, so the solution may not be as simple as that, but Ojon does ensure that its impact on the planet is a positive one. The eco-friendly hair care brand has built a following thanks to its eponymous ojon ingredient. Ojon is a rare, exotic oil derived from the Ojon trees growing in the rainforest in Central America’s Mosquitia region.

Because the rainforest provides its key ingredients, Ojon uses its proceeds to support the tribes of people who live there. The money is used to feed and educate the Tawira people, while helping to preserve the rainforest.

The Body Shop

pic31The Body Shop was founded by Anita Roddick on the premise of providing cruelty-free, socially responsible bath and body products. Though Roddick passed away a few months ago, her charitable legacy lives on.

The latest cause to take the global beauty giant by storm? Domestic violence. The Body Shop has created a small collection of products whose proceeds benefit the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. That includes Daisy Soap (made with Community Trade shea butter from Ghana), a stylish $5 tote bag, and the refreshingly minty Stop Violence in the Home Lip Care Stick.

Pantene Beautiful Lengths

Pop quiz: Would you rather have mile-long locks that you can sit on, or the opportunity to give someone a head of hair? (For the record, hip-skimming hair only really works if your name is Rapunzel.) Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths program makes the choice a simple one, as it uses donated hair to create wigs for female cancer patients who have lost their own hair during treatment.

pic41To participate, the donated hair must be at least eight inches in length; no more than 5% gray; and free of bleach, permanent hair color, and chemical treatment. That’s because each wig requires at least six donated ponytails to be made. Gray hair does not absorb hair dye as uniformly as non-gray locks, and chemical processing can make the hair too fragile to stand up to the wig process.

Should you hair make the cut, you’ll be in good company. Actresses Diane Lane and Hilary Swank have both recently (and publicly) chopped their long locks to help serve the program.

Says Swank, “It makes me feel so good to know that I was able to contribute such a personal part of myself to another woman. I smile every time I think that my ponytail could help to create a wig for someone who really needed it. This is what life is about-giving back.”


There are emergencies (like running out of your favorite hand lotion on the coldest day of the year), and then there are emergencies (accidents, natural disasters, you name it). To prove that it has its perspective intact, Curel has founded the Curel Lend a Helping Hand program to provide funds for the American Red Cross.

In addition to urging Curel shoppers to support the American Red Cross, Curel has developed the special-edition, logo-emblazoned Targeted Therapy Fast-Absorbing Hand and Cuticle Cream to help raise awareness. The skincare brand has also donated $250,000 towards the cause.

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The Woman’s Guide to High-Tech Beauty Tools