With its legacy of activism—from The Body Shop’s Anita Roddick, who pioneered corporate social responsibility in beauty, to Estée Lauder herself, who came out from behind the counter to interact with women and make retail a meaningful experience—the beauty industry is filled with people doing their bit to implement positive change. Whether they’re raising money for beauty professionals unable to work due to Covid-19, or championing inclusivity, the eight activists we’re spotlighting here all have one thing in common: They’re helping to make the beauty industry—and the world—a better place.
Recognising the impact Covid-19 was having on the UK’s beauty professionals—from manicurists to facialists—Sharmadean Reid (founder of beauty bookings platform, Beautystack) initiated the Bring Beauty Back campaign. Becoming the voice of a whole sector, Reid not only persuaded the government to allow the return of haircuts and treatments (that are not close contact) with her campaign, she also succeeded in bringing the beauty community together—now, it feels stronger than ever.
As CEO of the British Beauty Council, Kendall’s mission over the past few years has been to ensure the government (and consumers) understand and recognise the value of the beauty industry to the UK economy. From reports that offer untold insight into how much the industry is worth, to attracting investors to the sector, to more recently, throwing its weight behind the Bring Beauty Back campaign, under the direction of Kendall and her team the council has played a fundamental role in positioning the beauty industry as a force to be reckoned with.
In the wake of George Floyd’s death in May, Sharon Chuter became an urgent voice demanding change in the beauty industry. The founder of Uoma Beauty established the Pull Up For Change campaign, which utilised Instagram to hold beauty (and fashion) brands accountable for how many Black employees they have on staff. Chuter’s movement forced the beauty industry to question why there aren’t more Black men and women in the upper echelons of the workforce—and commit to changing that.
You already know her for her no-holds-barred skincare tips, but Caroline Hirons is also another Covid-19 hero, having launched the Beauty Backed petition and its accompanying Go Fund Me page to help those people in the beauty industry whose livelihoods have been jeopardised by the pandemic. Her IGTV plea for people to help was emotional to say the least—but hats off to Caroline for using her significant influence to mobilise help for an industry that’s on its knees.
As part of the newly formed Black Aesthetics Advisory Board and founder of the Black Skin Directory (launched in 2017), Dija Ayodele is an aesthetician who has long pushed for greater diversity and balance in her industry. Surveys have shown that not only is the process of becoming an aesthetic doctor much easier for white people, but the treatment Black people receive upon entering a clinic (whether as patient or a professional) is not to the same standard. Essentially, things need to change, and Ayodele is making it happen.
Ashley Graham is at the forefront of the body positivity movement. Having risen to fame as a “plus-size” model, she has gone on to defy all of the modelling industry’s so-called norms, and now posts photographs of everything from her stretch marks to her cellulite—without explanation. That last bit is important—the model is helping to normalise our bodies, and the natural marks, dimples, lumps and bumps we all have. Her message is clear: Love—and be proud of—your body.
Acne is a tricky subject for so many of us—95 per cent of people aged 11 to 30 are affected by it at some point—but activist Lou Northcote has helped to make the conversation around spots a more positive one with #FreeThePimple, an Instagram page dedicated to embracing acne. By regularly posting images of her own skin make-up free, Northcote is helping to normalise breakouts, and documenting her own skin journey while she’s at it. Truly a breath of fresh air.
At first glance (she founded one of the first powerful direct-to-consumer beauty brands with Glossier), Emily Weiss’s activism might seem subtle, but its success totally democratised the beauty industry and changed how consumers go about buying their favourite products. From the beginning, she included all skin tones, races, ages and genders in the brand’s marketing, setting a precedent for others to do the same.
This story was originally published on British Vogue.