The Rise of Activist Beauty
In a bid to target younger, increasingly disenfranchised consumers, daring beauty labels are taking an active political stance. Tackling issues such as Trump, women’s rights and discrimination, brands are becoming charitable with their revenue and touting bolder attitudes.
US cruelty-free lipstick brand Lipslut was born after the 2016 presidential election and is known for its matte, rosy liquid lipstick controversially called F*ck Trump. Every month, 50% of the brand’s proceeds are donated to a charity chosen by customers on Lipslut’s website.
In August 2017, it donated 100% of its earnings to help victims of the Charlottesville disaster in which hundreds of white supremacists, neo-Nazi groups and supporters rallied onto campus at the University of Virginia and left three people dead and 34 injured. Raising $40,000 in total, the proceeds were donated to victims’ medical funds as well as US non-profit organisations and global networks the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and Black Lives Matter.
In an interview with US lifestyle website Refinery 29, founder Katie Sones said: "It has always bothered me, especially in a time when our political system is so dysfunctional, that companies rarely speak out [against] social issues, despite holding large influence in our society.”
The Lipstick Lobby
Funded by global content company Studio71, American vegan and cruelty-free colour cosmetics start-up The Lipstick Lobby launched in April 2017. The lipstick range emerged as a desire to fight for women’s rights under the Trump administration, which most recently curtailed the right to free birth control protected under Obamacare.
Using this as its primary motivation, The Lipstick Lobby is embracing feminist values and echoing sentiments we discussed in our Power Girls report. Each quarter a new lipstick shade is launched to support a different cause, pushing for social justice and empowering women to become activists for issues they care about. The brand donated proceeds from the sale of its inaugural shade, Kiss My Pink, to American non-profit Planned Parenthood after it was threatened with budget cuts.
This month, a matte red shade called Outrage launched as part of the brand’s #LabelYourself campaign, which seeks to fight the stigmas associated with systematic discrimination. Proceeds will be donated to the American Civil Liberties Union, supporting reproductive, LGBTQ and immigration rights as well as racial equality.
Beauty brands are increasingly becoming advocates for crucial issues, as consumers try to make sense of an unpredictable world. Globally, 75% of millennials believe companies have the potential to make a positive impact (Deloitte, 2017). For more on social activism and how brands should negotiate this tricky space, see Brands Take a Stand from our Currency of Dissent Macro Trend, as well as Millennial Beauty: Advocating Realness and Empowering Beauty.