How does Beauty Banks work?
Millions of people and families in Britain have to make the horrible decision to either eat or stay clean, because they are living in such serious poverty that they cannot afford to do both. We don’t think that’s fair, and so we’re here to help. We distribute unused toiletries to registered charitable organisations throughout Britain who, in turn, distribute them to the clients who desperately need them. Simple!
Where do you get the products?
We source our products in two ways. We work direct with beauty and toiletries brands and retailers of all sizes, and accept whatever unused overstocked, repackaged or discontinued toiletries and beauty products they can give us. These donations can range from a couple of hundred moisturisers or spot creams, to several thousand shampoos or sanitary towels.
But Beauty Banks can’t survive on these donations alone. Your unused toiletries and beauty products are vital to our service, and our individual supporters are the heart and soul of the organisation. We would love your unwanted gifts, hotel and flight travel minis, mistake purchases and more! Every last one of them will be given to someone living in poverty.
What do you need?
People living in poverty need what everyone else needs, so a great way of working out what best to donate is to imagine a day or week in your life, and list the products you used: toothbrush and paste, shower gel, razor and razorblades, shaving gel, soap, flannels, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, tampons or sanitary towels, face wash, body lotion, face moisturiser, hairbrush, comb and nail clippers. If you have children, think about their essentials too - talcum powder, baby shampoo, nappies, wipes, bum cream, hair and toothbrushes, toothpaste, baby bath and lotion. Our teen clients need deodorant, spot cream and sanitary protection. Our clients living in temporary accommodation and homeless shelters often need travel minis they can carry more easily from place to place. We at Beauty Banks serve all kinds of clients of all genders and ages. Put yourself in any of their shoes and send what you’d need to feel human and dignified. If you’d like further inspiration, check out our current wish list on Easho.
What don’t you need?
As well as used products we’re unable to accept items such as fake tan, health supplements and vitamins, body slimming and weight loss products. We also prefer not to receive nail polish, as this frequently smashes in transit.
Can I send almost full / barely used toiletries?
Unfortunately, owing to health and safety restrictions, we are unable to accept toiletries that have been used at all, however useful.
Can I send electrics like hairdryers and electric shavers?
Yes, we’d love them! But owing to health and safety restrictions, these must be brand new, in their original packaging and where applicable, pre-fitted with a UK plug.
Can I send makeup?
Absolutely! Your donations of unused makeup are an unexpected but always greatly appreciated treat for our partner charities’ clients. We know a lipstick or mascara can make all the difference to someone’s confidence and mood. We also keep a volume of makeup set aside for Christmas, when we distribute thousands of gifts to people of all genders and ages. They are hugely meaningful to recipients and sometimes the only present they’ll receive.
How can I donate?
There are four ways you can donate to Beauty Banks:
- Via easho.co.uk
Our wonderful friends at Easho make it very easy to donate. Our wish list of items is here, and is updated as needs and stock change. Just click the products you’d like to buy for people living in serious poverty (or choose vouchers if you’d prefer, and we’ll do the shopping), place BEAUTYBANKS in the promo code box, and Easho will waive your postage and packaging fees. What’s more, they won’t pack up your delivery and send it on its way. They’ll store it unpackaged in their warehouse until they have a large consignment of Beauty Banks donations, then load them onto a pallet - no unnecessary jiffy bags, boxes or bubble wrap, and deliver everything in a single journey to our warehouse, or to a location we can’t easily reach ourselves.This is a much more eco-conscious way of shopping, since it dramatically reduces packaging waste and consolidates petrol miles. Easho is an independent, family run British business, an ethical employer and a UK taxpayer.
2. Via our Beauty Banks Beauty Spots
Beauty Spots are a fast growing network of local Beauty Banks drop-offs nationwide. You can donate unused toiletries to any Beauty Spot, pop them in the Beauty Banks bin, and know that your donation will be given direct to a charity in your area. This way of donating all but eradicates packing materials and petrol miles, and serves your local community.
If you can’t yet find a Beauty Spot, either start your own (see ‘How can I volunteer to help?’) or spread the word to your friends, family and employers! We’d love to hear from you.
3. Via Superdrug
We have drop off points in Superdrug branches across Manchester and Scotland. In Manchester, you can drop off your donations to Superdrug Arndale Centre, Piccadilly and Salford. In Scotland, we have bins at Superdrug in Dundee (Overgate), Glasgow (Argyle Street and Glasgow Fort), Edinburgh (Princes Street) and Aberdeen (Trinity). If you’re in Frome, Superdrug there also has a Beauty Banks drop off point. The lovely staff at each of these branches will ensure your unused toiletries reach our local partner charities. This scheme is currently piloting in selected areas, but more locations are opening all the time. We will let you know as soon as they’re up and running, here on our website and via our social channels on Facebook and Instagram.
4. Via your brand
If you work for a beauty or toiletries brand or retailer, and would like to donate stock to Beauty Banks, we’d be thrilled to hear from you. Please give us your details here and we’ll be in touch!
Can I donate money?
Yes you can - please visit our JustGiving Page
Where will my product donation go?
If your donation is made via Easho, it will be sorted and distributed to charities in need throughout mainland Britain. So far, we have delivered your donations to cities and towns in Scotland, Wales, and the North and South of England.
If your donation is made to our Superdrug store partners, or to a Beauty Spot drop off point, it will go to a local charity helping those living in poverty in that area.
Does Beauty Banks operate outside the UK?
No. The need here at home is huge, and we are focused on our UK charity partners for now. We currently have no plans to expand internationally. However, we’re more than happy to share our experience with those who’ve been inspired by what we do, and are perhaps thinking of organising something similar it in their overseas country. We always love to hear from you. Do get in touch here.
How can I volunteer to help?
If you have permission, and access to a safe, publicly accessible space like a salon, shop, nail bar or pub, you can set up as a Beauty Banks Beauty Spot. This means people local to you will have a drop off point for all their unused toiletries. When we have approved your request, we will partner you with a local charity, who will receive your donations on a regular basis. All your signage, posters and logos are here to download. You just need a big empty crate or bucket and you’re ready! If you’re interested in making your workplace or building a Beauty Spot and joining our growing community of Beauty Bankers, please click here. We’d love to have you.
I’m struggling to afford toiletries, will you send me a bag of products?
Owing to financial and logistical constraints, we are unable to serve individuals. We serve only existing charities - food banks, family centres, schools, homeless shelters, refuges, NHS trusts - who, in turn, pass our products on to their individual clients in need. We want to help as many people as we possibly can, and this is the most effective way to do that.
Is Beauty Banks a big charity with lots of staff?
No. Beauty Banks is three people, plus an awful lot of wonderful and indispensable volunteers and loved ones. We do almost everything ourselves, are non-paying guests at our The Communications Store premises and are very lucky to have some generous corporate partners who help us with things we don’t know how to do! We have no marketing or advertising budget and neither Jo nor Sali draws a salary.
Is Beauty Banks affiliated with any other charitable organisations?
No, other than the charities we are proud to serve, Beauty Banks is not affiliated with any similar organisation.
Why don’t you give people environmentally friendlier and more economical period protection, like Mooncups?
Reusable sanitary protection is a complex issue for charities and one we have considered very carefully, and on which we've taken a great deal of advice. Beauty Banks is not actively seeking donations of Mooncups and other reusables at this time, and we are already in possession of a surplus. They are very difficult to use in a charitable context, and generally speaking, unwanted by end-users.
There are many reasons for this lack of demand, some of them complex, some simple. For example, people who are homeless or temporarily housed infrequently have access to the privacy, laundry and sanitation facilities required for reusable methods - they are neither practical nor hygienic for many of our end-users. Some religious groups and minority cultures have an instinctive or fundamental aversion to internal methods of protection. Many of our Beauty Banks users are very young, still coming to grips with their changing bodies, often embarrassed to discuss their methods. Another critical consideration is that Beauty Banks is not a client facing collective, in that we supply essential toiletries direct to existing charities, almost all of whom are reliant on the kindness of volunteers to staff their food banks, hostels and shelters. To ask these generous but usually unqualified volunteers (many of them male) to become educators to women, young and adult, from different cultures, on their period protection methods, is not appropriate. Instead, we take the view that female autonomy in relation to our bodies is a dignity that should not be dependent on financial and social circumstances. We believe that not only is proper sanitary protection the right of all women, but also that it should be on their terms wherever possible and practical.
As we have become increasingly aware of the very large quantities of unused period cups within the charity sector, we have taken the considered decision to not exacerbate this waste further. While we are ecologically aware and keen in our own lives and business practices to make more responsible choices, we are also aware that those proactive consumer choices are a privilege not afforded to everyone. On balance, we feel we are here to make difficult lives easier, and not to impose our own priorities on those with neither money nor the power of privilege, who are often living in truly desperate circumstances.
Are you only feeding the problem instead of fixing it?
We at Beauty Banks believe essential toiletries are vital in affording people the dignity and self respect we all deserve. We want to give men, women and children what they desperately need to stay clean. But we aim to do more than distribute toiletries to those already in need. We are working with select MPs, press and other charities to lobby for lasting change. Our primary issue right now is the campaign for schoolgirls to be supplied with free period protection by government, so that some 147,000 thousand of them will no longer have to miss school for lack of it.
I’m a journalist or radio or TV producer, can I get a quote or interview?
Yes, both Sali and Jo are available for interview. Sali is a professional broadcaster and journalist and Jo is a communications expert with extensive experience in working with members of the press. If you’d like to report on Beauty Banks, please get in touch here.
What is a Beauty Banks Beauty Spot?
Our Beauty Spots are local drop off points for unused toiletries. These might be shops, large offices, hair salons, nail bars, beauty spas, chemists, even pubs! Anywhere that is safe and accessible for people wishing to donate to Beauty Banks is very welcome to join our network. The purpose of our Beauty Spots is to collate and distribute Beauty Banks donations to local charities, ensuring donations stay nearby. This helps the local community, drastically reduces our carbon footprint, and saves our precious resources. If you’d like to open a Beauty Banks Beauty Spot, see “How can I volunteer to help?”.