Beauty With a Cause

By Celia Shatzman

Nowadays, when we shop for beauty and grooming products, it’s not just about what they can do for our hair or skin—it’s also about their impact on the world around us. People are taking a closer look inside the bottle, looking for sustainably and ethically sourced ingredients that are natural—forget ingredients that no one can pronounce. But as brands have begun cleaning up their products, consumers are also concerned about their platform.

“I think it is important for every company to realize that consumers vote with their dollars, and that in 2018, businesses have a very real responsibility to all stakeholders: workers, the environment, consumers and shareholders,” says Mia Davis, director of Mission at Credo Beauty. “There is no second chance here to earn consumer trust or to find another planet with the resources we need to thrive.”

In the past, cosmetic companies would offer one-off products for a cause or do a limited-run campaign. But now, the future is brands aiming for long-term, impactful commitments. “When I started working on corporate accountability, there were very few companies that did anything beyond basic cause marketing, which arguably was really a marketing initiative, not about social change,” Davis says. “One-off campaigns can be useful for certain causes, especially those that are targeted, like raising money to pay a hospital bill or a legal fund. But slapping a pink ribbon on a product for one month—especially if that product was made with chemicals linked to cancer in the first place—is not a genuine or useful approach to change, and I’d argue it’s actually doing a huge disservice. I’d much rather see companies with thoughtful, long-term programs in place.”

Conscious beauty

That’s why the trend of conscious beauty is gaining momentum, as more brands are working with fair trade partners, transforming practices to become eco-friendly and giving proceeds from sales back to causes. “In the early 2000s, we started a shift in the industry toward safer, clearer, more sustainable ingredients and processes,” Davis says. “Nonprofit campaigns, certifiers and savvy consumers all played big roles in starting this movement. Brands began to see that even beyond cleaning up their products or focusing on more sustainable packaging, consumers were starting to ask that brands show they were about more than just one [financial] bottom line. I’m glad to see many companies rising to the occasion.”

Companies have proved that these types of partnerships can be done without hurting financials and in fact can even help—think game changers like TOMS and Ben & Jerry’s. Davis says beauty brands can follow suit by establishing long-term partnerships that are on brand for their company and products. “Do the due diligence on how your brand spends its dollars through marketing, media and reporting,” she says. “It doesn’t always need to have a campaign around it. You can just do the right thing.”

“Credo loves to tell brands’ stories, whether in store or through social, blogs and at Credo events, like our Mission in Action panels, so we certainly do our part to amplify our brand partners’ positive impact on communities and the environment whenever we can,” Davis says. Credo has championed many brands that give back, including Eu’Genia Shea, a family-run social enterprise dedicated to all natural premium shea butter moisturizers. The company is committed to paying its pickers and manufacturers fair wages, and it donates 15 percent of profits back to its female workers in Ghana in the form of an education fund.

Supporting companies with purpose is a win-win, and these brands spread beauty far.

The Body Shop

The OG of conscientious beauty brands, the British company was founded in 1976 with a mission to do business better. Since then, it’s worked toward ending animal testing, helping the environment, and teaming up with fair trade partners around the globe to pay people a living wage and source ingredients sustainably.

The Body Shop has been working with its first Community Trade partner Teddy Exports in southern India since 1987, helping it grow from five artisans to more than 600 employees from 30 villages, establishing the Teddy Trust to build schools for 1,000 children, launch health-care clinics and raise awareness of HIV/AIDS. Every product purchased supports The Body Shop’s fair trade partners and the causes it fights for every day.


Before Victoria Tsai founded Tatcha, she spent time with geishas to learn their beauty secrets. They taught her that beauty starts in the heart and mind, which is why she teamed up with Room to Read’s Girls’ Education Program. Every Tatcha purchase aids its efforts to provide mentoring, skills and the support the girls need to receive an education. So far, the partnership has helped more than 10 million girls attend more than 1 million days of school.


The largest beauty brand in Brazil has been committed to sustainability since its inception in 1969. Doing business from the belief that the world is connected, NaturaBrasil has saved almost 635,000 acres of Amazon rainforest. Working with 33 local communities through its fair trade program, Programa Amazonia, NaturaBrasil also helps them establish their businesses while benefiting the forest. The company’s packaging is thoughtful, too: It’s all either made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled materials or eco-plastic from sugar-cane ethanol.

Seed Phytonutrients 

Forget farm-to-table—Seed Phytonutrients is all about farm-to-body with its skin, face and hair products. The sustainable line works with independent local organic farmers to source its natural ingredients to protect seeds from over-commercialization. The brand is paving a new path by introducing shower-friendly paper bottles that are made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper.


The for-benefit makeup brand supports the women’s cooperative We See Beauty Foundation with 10 percent of all sales. The nonprofit helps women across the U.S. launch enduring careers as entrepreneurs by giving them economic support, training, education and outreach, which lifts their communities and their economies, as well.


Lush has never used harmful microbeads in its products, instead opting for natural alternatives such as sand, salt and adzuki beans to exfoliate. Lush’s packaging is as minimal and mindful as possible, like its shampoo bars, which don’t have any packaging at all. Lush offers other “naked” products that are perfect for the gym both for convenience and reducing your environmental footprint, such as its Aromaco Deodorant and Scrubee Body Butter.

Plus, through its black pots recycling program, customers can bring in five empty and clean black pots and get a free fresh face mask in return. The used black pots are shipped back to Lush’s Vancouver and Toronto manufacturing facilities, where they are broken down and remade into new black pots.

Dr. Brandt

After celebrity dermatologist Fredric Brandt, M.D., committed suicide in 2015, his colleagues and friends launched the Dr. Brandt Foundation, an organization dedicated to destigmatizing mental illness and supporting those who have been affected by suicide. Currently, $5 from every sale of the Limited Edition Pores No More Pore Refiner Primer goes toward the Beaux Arts Hands On Program, which provides free museum tours and art classes to students in grades one through five at the Lowe Art Museum in Miami.


Beer is at the heart of this hair, body and grooming line. Back in the middle ages, when water wasn’t safe to drink, people drank beer instead because the water was boiled in the brewing process, making it safer. Nowadays, many people still don’t have clean water for drinking and bathing, so BRÖÖ teamed up with for its Shower the World Foundation. With every BRÖÖ purchase, someone is given clean, safe water.

Love, Beauty and Planet

The name makes it quite clear what it’s all about: helping the earth. The shampoos, conditioners, body washes, bar soaps, deodorants, lotions, and hair and body treatments are all infused with signature natural ingredients that are ethically sourced, supporting the farmers who grow them. The company’s fast rinse conditioner technology cuts down on shower time, thus saving water. And every in-shower bottle is made from 100 percent recycled plastic, with labels that have a special adhesive to easily separate them, ensuring they can be recycled. With Love, Beauty and Planet’s new #SmallActsOfLove video, it is showing how small, everyday steps can make a major impact and inspiring people to do their part.


Philosophy established its hope & grace initiative in 2014 to support mental health with a portion of purchases, and since then, it has donated $4.4 million to community-based mental health organizations based in the U.S. Philosophy helped more than 1 million women and families, and this year, it is taking its efforts worldwide by giving to countries where the brand is sold, including Canada and China.

Photo credit: Halfpoint, Thinkstock; Jacques Nkinzingabo, Body Shop; courtesy Tatcha; courtesy Natura Brasil; courtesy Seed; courtesy Make; courtesy Lush; courtesy Dr. Brandt; courtesy BRÖÖ; courtesy Love, Beauty and Planet; courtesy philosophy


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Celia Shatzman

Celia Shatzman covers everything from beauty and grooming to fashion, travel, fitness, psychology, health, career and finance. Her work has appeared in Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Marie Claire, SELF, Teen Vogue, ForbesLife, NYLON, New York, Condé Nast Traveler,, New York Post, USA TODAY, Time Out New York,,, BBC Travel, Latina, Organic Spa Magazine,,, Yoga Journal, and BUST, among others. She graduated from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and now calls Brooklyn home.