These Beauty Brands Are Giving Back to Society and the Planet

Kiehl's x Matthew McConaughey.jpg
Matthew McConaughey for Kiehl’s

When the 166-year-old American beauty brand Kiehl’s celebrated its fifth anniversary in India, it announced a special initiative on its best-selling Ultra Facial Cream: 100% of its sales (up to Rs 7 lakhs) would go to Teach For India to educate underprivileged children across the country. A beauty addict from Delhi blogged about dashing from work to the mall during rush-hour on a winter weekday, to make it in time before the Kiehl’s store shut. It was a brand she respected, and an opportunity to make a difference. The traffic was worth it, for a change.

This winter, Kiehl’s has given us another reason to stock up on a limited-edition Ultra Facial Cream in bright new packaging. The skincare company has partnered with Academy Award-winning actor Matthew McConaughey to benefit Autism Speaks, a global leader in autism advocacy. For every share of the collaboration video, which raises awareness about autism spectrum disorder that affects 70 million people worldwide, Kiehl’s will donate $1 (up to $200,000) to Autism Speaks to fund research.

Affiliations such as these are growing in favour in the beauty space, and more brands are waking up to the win-win outcomes of giving back to society. One of the stalwarts in the field of sustainable luxury, Guerlain was identified as the pilot in luxury conglomerate LVMH Group’s environmental strategy. For over ten years, the brand has placed social and environmental responsibility at the heart of its corporate strategy. Besides tie-ups with local partners for preserving biodiversity while cultivating their key ingredients such as Yunnan orchids, Indian vetiver, Australian sandalwood, lavender from Provence, and so on, “a great love story exists between Guerlain and bees,” says sustainable development director, Sandrine Sommer.

guerlain_cat17_g042460_w.jpgThe development of the Abeille Royale range led Guerlain to support the Brittany Black Bee Conservatory Association on the island of Ushant, and launch ‘Bee Universities’ in May this year to raise awareness and protect the species. The brand’s efforts towards eco-design and sustainable procurement also earned it a ‘Biodiversity and Climate Commitment’ certification from Ecocert, making it the first perfume and cosmetics house to do so.

Another crusader in the cause de la beauté is The Body Shop. In keeping with the philosophy that business can be a force for good, the 41-year-old brand has often associated with social and environmental causes to give shoppers ethical reasons to splurge. The brand tied up with Cruelty Free International to call for a global ban on animal testing with their “Forever Against Animal Testing” (FAAT) campaign launched in June this year with actress Jacqueline Fernandez as ambassador.

body-shop-overnight-mask-tea-tree.jpgFor its latest CSR initiative in India, The Body Shop has launched a Bio-Bridge project in Garo Hills, Meghalaya, to help protect the endangered Indian Elephant and Western Hoolock Gibbon. The plan is to construct a Bio-Bridge to protect the habitat for some of the world’s most threatened species by planting one square metre of habitat against every transaction at the brand in India. The programme is part of its Enrich Not Exploit™ Commitment, launched last year.

Environmental causes also form the backbone of Korean beauty brand Innisfree, who planted a hundred saplings in New Delhi this summer. For its 10th anniversary, the brand launched its ‘Eco-Handkerchief’ programme to promote the simple act of using handkerchiefs instead of tissue paper to save trees, protect forests and reduce global warming.

Green Tea Seed Serum_2 copy.jpgIt also launched a ‘Green Christmas’ campaign with a line of limited-edition products, and customers are encouraged to return bottles and earn points as part of its recycling initiative. On another continent, French brand L’Occitane last year launched its “Union for Vision” programme, an international partnership with UNICEF to contribute to the prevention of childhood blindness by providing them with Vitamin A supplements.

Indian brands too are doing their bit to give back to the planet. Beauty brand SoulTree was developed by an eco-activist in the hills of Pauri-Garhwal to encourage organic farming, enhance cultivation techniques and provide farmers with a global market for their produce. Certified by BDIH Germany, their products are made using Ayurvedic principles, and are 100% natural and organic.

Another leading Indian brand that champions the cause of organic skincare, Organic Harvest conducted a plantation drive in association with Sanjay Gandhi Animal Care Center to celebrate their fourth anniversary this year. The team planted mango, pomegranate, blackberry, guava and mulberry trees, and raised awareness for the need to prevent animal testing in the beauty industry.

Azafran Body Butter range.jpgAn Ahmedabad-based organic beauty brand that follows chemical-free principles of ‘farm to face’, Azafran is also out to create a difference in the way the industry works. Besides growing their own organic produce, the founders Aditi Vyas and Mansi Vyas have consciously hired only local women on their farms, and promote female employment in their supply chains. “Believing that women are the backbone of the society, we provide them with the required support to change themselves and their surroundings,” they say.

With such dedication behind the scenes, you can be sure that your favourite beauty purchases are not only doing good to your skin but to the planet and society as well. It’s a cause worth celebrating.

First published in Verve magazine

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