It's an unpleasant truth that for many, helping those in need is a spectator sport. While many of us try our best to pay it forward — hooking up friends with job interviews, giving back during the holidays, and donating all we can in both time and gently used goods to charity — it requires major compromise and serious self-sacrifice to do much more. It’s unpleasant to see others going through a hard time, particularly when looking at life with Instagram-colored glasses. And sometimes — most times — it’s easier to look the other way.
But here’s the good news: Forward-thinking brands in the beauty world make it crazy-easy to support the most crucial of causes. Because hair, makeup, and skin-care companies with a sense of social responsibility are taking the money we give them for lipstick, eye cream, and shampoo and using it to do some pretty incredible things — like helping women in war-torn countries rebuild their lives. Or building a state-of-the-art eye-laser treatment facility within an aircraft designed to touch down in developing nations and help treat blindness that's completely preventable in the first world.
It’s not just the massive corporations that are making a difference. A natural indie brand is making documentarians out of indigenous teens in the Amazon basin, and another company gives every last cent of its profits to help women and children in need. What's more, a new upstart is making clean water in Haiti its number-one priority.
This is the new age of beauty — a landscape of must-have, high-performance products that allow us to support incredible causes, too. The stories will spark warm fuzzies — and maybe even inspire us to think bigger. Here are the brands that are turning our makeup and skin-care purchases into global change, one sale at a time.