We are all familiar with the phrase ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’. We commonly attach it to things that we personally believe are beautiful – such as artwork, partners, friends, clothes and other material possessions. And though these things are beautiful and precious to us, we are guilty of not recognising how other parts of our life are beautiful too – like the roof over our heads, the food we eat, clean water and also our easy access to beauty products. We can simply pop to the local shop to get shampoo, conditioners, soaps, face wash, shower gel, face masks and other bits and bobs. For many in the UK, they simply cannot afford this luxury.
Truthfully, if you had to make the decision of feeding yourself throughout the day and surviving or washing and going hungry, then it is most likely that you would choose food. Yet washing, showering, skin care routines and makeup are all integral to the development and maintenance of our self-esteem and our self-worth. This is why beauty banks have been established – to help tackle and end hygiene poverty.
I first discovered beauty banks at the end of the last year when I was finishing university and naturally I was going through all of my items deciding whether to take things back with me or donate them. This was when I came across my leftover Bumble merchandise that I still had from my ambassador work – which included loads and loads of unused Bumble lip balms that I just didn’t need. It seemed like such a waste to throw them away, especially with our growing landfill crisis – so I did some googling and came across beauty banks.
Beauty banks take donated unused and partially used skincare products, toiletries and makeup products. Then they give them to women, children and men who are in poverty, domestic violence victims and refugees. So, if you have received unwanted skincare or toiletry set for Christmas or your birthday, or you have tried a product that makes your skin break out resulting in plenty of unused products clogging up your bathroom shelves – then why not donate them to a beauty bank? All you would have to do is pay for postage – which is usually only a couple of pounds. No different to buying a coffee or setting up a direct debit to another charity each month. This is a great option if you are starting a new chapter in life like moving out of university or moving home, or you are simply doing a summer clear out of your possessions. Plus, hygiene poverty also correlates with period poverty in the UK – and many beauty banks also accept donated sanitary towels and tampons.
Below are some independent charities and beauty banks that you can donate your toiletries too:
The Hygiene Bank is a grassroots, community focused charity that focuses on ending hygiene poverty. According to their website, an astonishing amount of people are in poverty in the UK – estimated to be at least 1 in 5 and around 4.5 million children.
The Hygiene Bank has multiple drop off points throughout the UK (including a few in Bristol!) where you can give in new, unused, and in date hygiene basics and personal care essentials.
If you don’t have any toiletries to give away, you can still donate money to this worthy cause. For example, paying £15 means that you can support a person with an individual care pack with toothbrush, toothpaste, body wash, shampoo, conditioner, sanitary protection and shaving razor – and that is the amount of money that we would spend on a good quality cleanser!
Beauty Banks was started by PR worker Jo Jones and her good friend Sali Hughes a journalist. After learning about how 37% of people in the UK go without hygiene products they became committed to ending both hygiene poverty and period poverty. They collect both basic products and unattainable luxuries like make up to help people’s self esteem.
Donations can be sent to:
Beauty Banks c/o Jo Jones
The Communications Store
2 Kensington Square
London W8 5EP
Alternatively, you can make donations through their partnered site Easho where you can purchase the products that are then sent straight to the charity workers.
Give and Makeup is a non-profit initiative working with Refuge and Women’s Aid charities in London and Cardiff – two charities that are committed to helping women and children escape domestic violence. Not only can you donate partially used toiletries, but you can also donate clothes and toys too.
At the time of writing, they have closed their london address due to the influx of parcels they have recieved, so donate to their Cardiff branch here:
Give and MakeUp
Unit 1 Vanguard Way
The Red Box Project aims to support young people throughout their periods by providing red boxes filled with free sanitary products to schools. Founded in 2017, the founders were inspired, and at the same time rightfully angered, by period poverty in the UK.
The Red Box Project has a list of facebook groups that you can join based in your local area. You can join and message the Bristol page here. You can donate a range of unopened unexpired new sanitary items as well as new unopened underwear.
Toiletries Amnesty was started by Karen Harvey in 2014, starting from rural Cambridgeshire and progressing to the whole of the UK. They have a directory of foodbanks, shelters and refuge centres that you can donate your products too, as well as including a filter for partially used products.
Supporting refugees and asylum seekers, Bloody Good Period aims to help those to have easy access to free menstrual products. They supply 25 asylum seeker drop in centres based in London and Leeds, and hoping to expand across the UK. You can help this charity by purchasing a range of their merchandise or donating money to help them purchase pads.
Freedom 4 Girls is a charity that fights period poverty not just in the UK, but worldwide. They offer disposable as well as reusable sanitary wear to millions of women and girls globally. They accept donations of sanitary products across Leeds as well as monetary donations, and you could even become a volunteer at one of their workshops by learning how to make reusable sanitary kits for women in developing countries.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this blog, and have been enlightened about how you can help those in need.
Disclaimer: Header Image courtesy of Collection of Vials