Cosmetics companies in New Zealand are showing that beauty is more than skin deep
From saving school swimming pools to animal rescue, supporting communities from Vietnam to Africa and donating both time, resources and money to charities both local and international - consumers may be pleasantly surprised to learn a generous number of beauty brands available in New Zealand are giving back in all kinds of wonderful ways.
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"More and more, people are looking for brands that align with their own values and principles," says Lisa Wilson, international communications manager at Trilogy, who contribute to a variety of projects and causes in ways both large and small.
"There's so much choice available that great products alone are not enough anymore – customers want to know that what they're buying doesn't cause harm to our planet and the people on it. And if they can choose products and brands that actually help people and support a more sustainable world, that's even better."
For the past three years, Trilogy has supported non-profit organisation So They Can, which works to educate and support women and children toward becoming self-sufficient in areas of extreme need such as Kenya and Tanzania.
The company uses sunflower oil sourced from these communities to create perfume oils, and funds from sales are donated to the organisation.
Every ingredient in Trilogy products is sourced ethically and sustainably and personal relationships with suppliers in countries such as Chile and Lesotho are highly valued.
Trilogy also raises funds for the Orangutan Protection Foundation for the last six years, raising more than $60K to date for the rescue and rehabilitation of the endangered animals, is an Empowerment Partner of UN Women NZ, supporting the organisation's goal to end violence against women in the Pacific, back the Beat The Microbead international campaign, which aims to motivate entire nations to ban their use in cosmetic product, and was the first New Zealand skincare brand to achieve NATRUE certification in 2012 - meaning they use only natural organic ingredients, have sustainable environmental practices and don't test on animals.
Another brand doing good globally is The Body Shop. In New Zealand, their charity of choice is SpinningTop, an independent, not-for profit organisation which exists to give balance to vulnerable children whose lives have been thrown off balance through war, oppression, natural disaster and circumstances beyond their control.
Abroad, amongst others, there's Community Trade, launched in 1987 as a commitment to trade fairly with suppliers and in exchange offer good trading practices and independence-building prices.
Through this they currently source premium raw ingredients and hand-crafted accessories from 26 Community Trade suppliers in 21 countries, harnessing the skills of small-scale farmers, traditional artisans and rural cooperatives.
One such supplier is Women in Business Development (WIBDI) in Samoa, who supply The Body Shop's virgin organic coconut oil from a cooperative of 200 organically certified farmers and their families, who hand-gather and hand-crack the coconuts before grating and cold-pressing the flesh.
The trade in coconut oil also provides WIBDI with funding to maintain other traditional island crafts such as mat-weaving, which produces cloth used for traditional warrior ceremonies and can be sold for extra income.
Making a splash closer to home - in the past six years, more than 150 school swimming pools around New Zealand have closed, with a further 130 at risk of following. To help ensure Kiwi kids learn to swim and be safe in the water, suncare brand Garnier Ambre Solaire are teaming up with Water Safety NZ for a second year to support the not-for-profit's initiative 'Save Our School Pools'.
"We believe it's crucial for all New Zealand children to learn water safety survival skills and there's no better place for them to get access to water than in a school pool," says Garnier marketing director Shannon Watts.
"Ambre Solaire is in the business of helping keep Kiwi kids safe in the sun, offering the highest UV protection in the New Zealand market. So it's fitting we can now help keep them safe in the water too."
Thinking pink - most people who see a looped pink ribbon icon know it represents breast cancer awareness, but may not know that the symbol was created in 1991 by Evelyn Lauder of Estee Lauder. The global brand continues to give massive support to breast cancer charities, including in New Zealand where they work with the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation (NZBCF).
This year alone Estee Lauder donated 400,000 ribbons for the Pink RIbbon Street Appeal and were once again the major sponsor of the Pink Star Walk, donating funds and resources into making the nation-wide fundraising events possible.
They are also major drivers of the Look Good Feel Better program, the country's only charitable cancer programme dedicated to empowering New Zealanders to manage the effects that cancer and its treatment can have on their appearance.
Another high profile beauty brand giving more than just skin-deep empowerment is MAC Cosmetics. Since the inception of the MAC Aids Fund in 1999, MAC New Zealand have raised $2.4 million to help fight HIV and AIDS here and support those suffering.
The funds raised here represent the sale of more than 50,000 Viva Glam lip products, produced specifically for the cause, with 100 per cent of the selling price directed to the MAC Aids Fund.
Earlier this year MAC handed over a cheque for $148,301 to Positive Women Incorporated, which provides a support network for women and families living in New Zealand with HIV or AIDS, and celebrated topping the $2 million mark.
"Our $2 million milestone was due to the enormous commitment from our Viva Glam spokespeople, MAC makeup artists and dedicated customers," says MAC general manager, Tanya Jackson.
"The MAC team are driven to set and reach our next fundraising goal and continue our grant-making to support New Zealanders affected by HIV and AIDS."
MAC New Zealand also works closely with other local HIV organisations - grants have funded projects such as Body Positive's Rapid HIV Testing campaign encouraging people to get tested and the establishment of the INA HIV and AIDS Foundation, whose goal is to improve the quality of life for those affected by HIV and AIDS within Maori, indigenous and South Pacific communities.
Taking a scaled-down but no less important approach to giving back is Oasis Beauty, a cruelty-free, completely natural brand based in Oxford who donate monthly to SAFE and the World Animal Protection.
On a very local level, Oasis also provide financial support and help raise awareness for two tiny not-for-profits - Oxford Bird Rescue and Hedgehog Rescue New Zealand.
Oasis' cottage headquarters also play host to a number of rescue animals, such as Tom the pig and Jeff the sheep, who are now permanent residents, and the Canterbury company recently developed a wildlife area which is used by the Oxford Bird Rescue to release birds that need a safe area to recover and by Hedgehog Rescue for rehabilitated hedgehogs.