Top Five: Socially Responsible Make-up Brands

In todays post I’m going to talk about beauty brands who are socially and ethically responsible. I’m not necessarily talking in terms of ingredients or their organic credentials, I am talking about the non-green, conventional brands who take their social responsibilities seriously…

Ethics are the moral principles that govern a person or company’s behaviour. An individual’s opinion of what is important to them varies greatly and it is a case of personal choice. Being ethical doesn’t always mean looking for the best organic ingredients, it goes beyond that. It spans every part of the production process and beyond.

As a Make-up Artist (especially one working in film and TV such as myself) it is not always possible to use products which are as clean as I would like, however I will always look for the most ethical option available to me. For instance: If I needed to paint an actor in neon yellow paint or cover them in various scars or wounds for a film then I find the most ethical way to do so whilst not compromising the end result or my work. I may not be able to find a natural or organic paint that does that job so I look at the alternatives and find the next best thing.

I think it is is important to also consider the bigger picture and look further than the (frequently minuscule/ un-intelligable) print on the back of a tube or jar. Beauty brands may not use the purest ingredients but they often do much more; they do things that make a difference to individuals and our planet.

Here are five brands who’s approach is to be commended…

Illamasqua are a luxury make-up brand which has been in my kit since its conception back in 2008. The brand very much makes a statement and so on first appearances they may not appear to be to everyones tastes but the product range is fabulous and the selection and spectrum of shades is somewhat mind-blowing at times.

They are not afraid to push boundaries and confront the complex issues that affect our generation; not just when it comes to beauty. Illamsqua have an all inclusive attitude and promote the right freedom of expression, equality and diversity and are vocal in their belief that beauty is for everyone whatever your age, sexual orientation or gender. Illamsqua are long term supporters of the The Sophie Lancaster Foundation; a charity set up following the brutal murder of Sophie Lancaster who was attacked for being different. The Sophie Lancaster Foundation promotes the right to self expression and tolerance and is a leading provider of anti-bullying and hate crime education and training.

They also have a strict animal testing policy and this is one of Illamasqua’s core brand values; they are accredited as a cruelty free brand by PETA. They have over 100 vegan friendly products in their stable and a range of synthetic brushes.

If you are looking for a brand which slots neatly into the lower budget end of the market then Neve (Italian for snow) Cosmetics is always worth a look. I haven’t ventured beyond their refillable eye and cheek palettes but these I have returned to time and time again over the years and I have always been impressed. The cruelly free products wear well and go on easily (without too much fallout) and the range of shades in fabulous (and generously sized). In terms of ingredients Neve aren’t terrible. I don’t consider them a natural brand however they do omit petrolatum, parabens and silicones from their products.

Neve’s philanthropic ventures extend to having their own not for profit organisation Cuore di Neve. The initiative supports numerous animal charities and over the past five years have donated more than 80,000 Euros to Italian based animal charities.

It’s not just our (mostly) four legged fiends who benefit either; Neve also support the Verba association‘s Ben-Essere which helps cancer patients affected with cancer or disabilities to reclaim their own identities and their own beauty through makeup. They also support the Salute allo Specchio project which provides psychological support to patients undergoing cancer treatments, improving patients’ well-being and quality of life by providing contact with those who have been though and going through similar conditions.

Make-up International is a company which most people probably won’t have heard of. A pro make-up brand which I have been a fan of for many years, Make-up Interntional was founded around thirty years ago by BAFTA nominated Make-up Artist Walter Schneiderman. With a CV that includes The Elephant Man, Labyrinth and Yentl, Wally (as he is affectionately known [and I’ve had the pleasure of meeting him]) has had an amazing career, working with some of the most respected Directors and Cinematographers in the industry and of course a multitude stars (Bette Davis, Barbra Streisand, Sophia Loren, Clark Gable and Denzel Washington to name a few).

The collection encompasses beauty and special effects products. They have some fabulous face, eye and lip palettes which contain a great range of shades and are not only recyclable but are also refillable! Make-up International products are all cruelty free (they work in compliance with the Humane Cosmetics Standards) and always have been! Neither the products or their raw ingredients, have been tested on animals since their cut off date of 1986.

Make-up International are opposed to bullying and are long term supporters of the Child Safety Education Fund, an organisation that provides anti-bullying programs and material for schools.

I know that the Body shop has always been considered an ethical brand by many however I stopped shopping there when it was sold to L’Oreal in 2006. Last year the French Cosmetics giant sold the forty two year old chain to Brazilian company Natura; consequently it’s regained its cruelty free status and back in my good books.

Like many people my conscious beauty journey began at The Body Shop. It was my Mecca when I was 13 or 14 years old and a trip to the Castle Street Norwich store (our local major shopping destination at the time) was much anticipated. The make-up range has expanded over the years and there are options for a wide variety of shades and finishes.

Although The Body Shop products may not be/have been the cleanest in terms of ingredients they made up for it in ethical campaigns and today they aim to be the world’s most ethical and sustainable global business. Animal welfare has always been top of The Body Shop’s manifesto. Their cruelty free campaigning began back in 1989 and they have been working alongside Cruelty Free International for the last 28 years. The company is also a life long supporter of small producers worldwide; currently they have 26 Community Trade suppliers in 21 countries around the world, which benefits 25,000 people.

The final company in my line up is the most natural of the five and consequently probably a little of a cheat inclusion. Chantecaille is a family run company who have created a range of products that are formulated to be free from many of the ingredients I for one prefer to avoid – Phthalates, Sulphates, Detergents, Mineral Oil, Synthetic Colours and Fragrances and GMOs etc.

It goes without saying they are Cruelty Free but did you know that one of the driving forces for creating Chantecaille was a desire to establish a platform with the power to draw attention to important issues of global sustainability and to fund a foundation that could support related initiatives. Over time the company has supported many worthy causes through the sale of their beautiful embossed make-up. Currently 5% from the sale of the Mermaid Matte eye trio is shared between Elephants and Bees Project, Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, and the Lion Guardians. A donation of 5% from the Protect the Wolves Eye Shade Trio supports Conservation Northwest, Philanthropy Cheek Shades support a variety of wild and marine life charities and sales of their Lip Veil supports Space for Giants an elephant charity in Africa.

Another positive and one not usually seen in high end, main-stream brands is that Chantecaille operate a refill system for many of their products!

Many make-up brands do a lot for charity and these are just five that I feel really do their bit on a regular basis. Being ethical is much more than the ingredients you use (although of cause this is a major consideration for many of us), it goes beyond that and so next time you are shopping, take a look beyond the ingredients list – you may be pleasantly surprised.



Images: (1) via Seatofsoftwear; (2) Ilamasqua; (3) Neve Cosmetics; (4) Make-up International; (5) The Body Shop; (6) Chantecaille



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