Breast Cancer Awareness month (October) has been embraced in particular by the beauty industry – there’s hardly a brand out there that doesn’t do something ‘pink’ at this time of year. But, as the concept gathers momentum each autumn I can’t help wondering who exactly is the main beneficiary. While there’s no doubt that millions are raised each year through donations from sales of specially packaged beauty products, here are a few thoughts that might make you go hmmm.

Let’s take a fictitious cream and call it Beauty. Beauty sells at a beauty counter or store for £20. The cream is manufactured in X country where a commonplace minimum production run would be 2000 (but here you have consider the brands that produce hundreds of thousands of bottles of skin care/lipstick: the more you order, the cheaper it is). The estimated maximum cost of production per item is £2. Beauty goes then from the manufacturing plant to a distributor, who finds outlets to sell it. The distributor buys Beauty at £4 per bottle. The distributor sells Beauty on to a retailer for £10 per bottle, and the retailer, wanting a standard 50% margin (or profit) sells it to you for £20. Big brands cut out the distributor and sell direct. Bear in mind, however, that pure products, or those that use the highest quality ingredients may cost slightly more to produce than those that are 95% water. Hopefully, you get a rough idea of how costings are worked out.

So it doesn’t really take a genius to work out that say ‘10% of profits are donated to charity’ doesn’t actually add up to the whole heap of beans you’d think it might, because it isn’t 10% of £20. Then, there are the ones that offer ‘£1 from every sale goes to charity…’ One pound? All that profit that’s going on from conception to sale, and they’re giving a pound? Although I will point out that donations are given from the brand owner, not the retailer. What I loathe even more though, is the ones that say ‘a proportion of profits will be given to charity’ leaving a vague open door that nobody, particularly the consumer, is likely to check up on.

When beauty products are repackaged for Breast Cancer Awareness month, they are designed to be obvious (hence the pink) and to draw us into buying them – because we want to help, right? But, the whole event has become as commercial as Valentine’s Day, with everyone jumping on the bandwagon offering to give away varying amounts. And of course, the more you buy, the more profit (because beauty companies aren’t giving up even nearly their entire profit even on only one product) goes to the beauty companies. You’d genuinely be better off giving straight to a favourite charity because at least then they’d actually get the entire amount, not some woolly, unspoken figure that’s totted up at the end of October and given out.

It’s also not that unusual for last year’s stock to re-emerge the following October – if it didn’t sell sufficiently the previous year, and it’s been specially packed, stamped or marked in some way for Breast Cancer, then the costs involved in repackaging are too high, and they have to be sold in order to make profit.

It can’t be ignored that the beauty industry makes a huge amount of money for Breast Cancer Charities; the sad thing is that for an industry that relies so heavily on women, they could do so much more.

I’m almost sure I will be bombarded with statistics from beauty companies after this, but seriously, don’t tell me – tell the real donors, the customers.

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All products are sent to me as samples from brands and agencies unless otherwise stated. Affiliate links may be used. Posts are not affiliate driven.