The beauty brands supporting LGBTQ+ consumers without pinkwashing

Aiming to be more diverse and less ‘pinkwashed,’ the cosmetics industry is taking a more subdued approach to its product campaigns during this year’s Pride month.

Celebrating LGBTQ+ life and campaigning for equality, every year Pride organisations come together to shine a light on the community and the challenges its members face on a daily basis. During the last few Pride months, there’s been a large increase in brands tapping into the movement to engage with consumers. This marketing tactic, when done mostly for economic gain, is what many critics refer to as ‘pinkwashing’ wherein brands jump on the LGBTQ+ bandwagon to capitalise on what originally began as a protest.

Emerging as a time for rainbow-filled advertisements and often insincere declarations of allyship, Pride month has become yet another opportunity for brands to financially exploit something without significantly helping the cause it’s designed to support.

However, in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the ensuing global protests that have dramatically re-focused conversations in recent weeks, brands – particularly those within the beauty industry – are making sure to either delay or rework their campaigns, avoiding tokenistic characterisations and ensuring their practices match their doctrines.

‘To be perfectly honest, I’m totally frustrated with the majority of companies who are jumping on this bandwagon of celebrating Pride as a capitalist game,’ says the founder of gender-fluid, lesbian-owned company Noto Botanics. ‘I feel that this year’s Pride is already way more authentic than last year’s Pride, as far as companies coming out, because they know they’re going to get called out a lot more easily.’

Never before has it been more important for the corporate world to approach its outlook on discrimination with commitment and credibility, to stretch beyond commercial interests and demonstrate genuine aid. Although there’s no shortage of this on social media and product packaging, brands cashing in on a movement they’re not tangibly helping have been too slow to recognise the need for more transparency, their roles in activism limited to launches and sales.

This does not, however, imply that all Pride month campaigns are ‘bad.’ Here, we round up a few of our favourite charitable beauty brands putting their money where their mouth is in the ongoing fight for equality and acceptance. Like Pride itself, they are loud, proud, and celebratory of LGBTQ+ lives so, if you’re seeking to indulge in some newness and get involved, this is where you should start.

Morphe

A long-time supporter of the LGBTQ+ community, Morphe has gone one step further this year, releasing an entire product line in honour of Pride. The Free To Be collection includes a brush kit, setting spray, lip gloss, and eyeshadow palette, 100% of the net proceeds of which (a minimum of $50,000) will be donated to GLSEN, a New York-based NGO that works to ensure that LGBTQ+ students are able to feel safe and learn in a school environment free from bullying or harassment.

Face Halo

Designed to replace up to 500 single-use makeup wipes, Face Halo’s revolutionary eco-friendly microfibre face cloths have undergone a Pride revamp, complete with a rainbow trim. Currently donating 5% of all proceeds to The Trevor Project (the world’s  largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organisation for LGBTQ+ young people), the brand explains that ‘the total donation amount being varied at the moment as it is based off net sales.’

Noto Botanics

Founded by queer MUA Gloria Noto, this skincare brand celebrates Pride all year round by donating 100% of online sales profits from their Agender Oil to a rotation of LGBTQ+ causes including Black Mama’s Matter, Planned Parenthood, and the LA LGBT Youth Centre. Noto is also striving to amplify black voices within the gay community, regularly posting videos and live-streaming content on social media that features Black, queer, and trans creatives.

Bella Freud

Taking its iconic 1970 Candle and giving it a rainbow makeover, Bella Freud will be donating 15% of all sales over London Pride weekend to The Outside Project, the UK’s first LGBT shelter and community centre. ‘As this whole conversation been shifting, it’s been really important to know that the origins of Pride are the celebration of the Stonewall riots, which were led by Black and brown trans people, and they were in reaction to over-policing of queer spaces,’ says its website. ‘This is the least we can do.’

Formula Z

Dedicated to being an all-inclusive brand, Formula Z is navigating the beauty industry with the goal of bringing self-expression to all regardless of race, sexual orientation, age, or gender. Available all year round, its Mission Z shade of 4Ever Lips liquid lipstick was created by 17 year-old founder Zach Dishinger with the sole intention of benefitting The Trevor Project. For every one sold, Formula Z is donating 30% of sales to the organisation.

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