We love layering up our lippy to support an incredibly important cause just as much as the next girl. But beware! This Breast Cancer Awareness Month, when picking the perfect product for your pout, make sure the brand you’re using pays more than just lip service to the cause. 

Our clean, green beauty editor Khandiz Joni, investigates how to ethically support Breast Cancer Awareness Month, without succumbing to buying potentially carcinogenic products – yes really! – And collaborates with photographer Asia Werbel and model Kimberly Marren to show you how to use clean beauty brands to achieve gorgeous lippy results.

The Pink Ribbon Brigade

October, and breast cancer have become synonymous with men and women donning pink ribbons to raise awareness and money for the cause. While the importance of the message is hard to fault and subsequent fund raising efforts are undeniably important, the campaign it’s self and the ingredients in many of the products sold in the promotion of it, have been coming under fire for years.

It all began back in 1992, when the former Editor-in-Chief Alexandra Penney of Self magazine, along side Evelyn Lauder, of Estée Lauder Company, started the breast cancer awareness campaign and began handing out pink ribbons.

Since then Esteée Lauder has become one of the biggest supporters of breast cancer awareness, raising millions of pounds through donations from the profit of their products.

What is lesser known is that the movement was actually started by, 68-year-old Charlotte Haley, who began producing peach coloured ribbons in her living room. When Haley refused to let Evelyn Lauder and the Estée Lauder Company use her peach ribbon for corporate gain, the cosmetic giant unceremoniously pinched her idea, telling Haley they would simply change the colour of the ribbon. Read the full story here.

Since 1992, Breast Cancer Awareness Month has grown into a mammoth industry, not limited to Estée Lauder; countless other cosmetic companies have been eager to flog beauty products under the guise of raising money. Indeed the pink ribbon economy isn’t limited to beauty products; you can now buy countless products, from t-shirts to key rings, that, by the virtue of being coloured ‘pink’, are now sold as ‘Breast Cancer’ fund raising products. Leading many survivors of breast cancer and scientist looking for cures, to question, in whose best interests the pink ribbon money machine really works. The brand, being seen doing good, or the cancer charity, which should be grateful for receiving a small cut of their product’s profit?

But surely the most frightening element of this pink product promotion, lies in the ingredients of the beauty products themselves.

Because, brace yourselves, many of the make-up products still contain carcinogenic ingredients scientifically linked to breast cancer. That’s right, ingredients that actually CAUSE Breast Cancer, being used in beauty products, SOLD to raise funds to CURE Breast Cancer.

Think before you pink

If you’re thinking how frickin insane this is, surely, it’s common sense that the beauty products brands use to promote breast cancer awareness, would be clean, green and carcinogen free? And how do you as consumers even know where to start looking for advice? You’re not alone!

Step forward, Think Before You Pink.

 Launched in 2002 by Breast Cancer Action, as a response to the growing concern about the number of pink ribbon products on the market, the campaign calls for more transparency and accountability by companies that take part in breast cancer fundraising, and encourages consumers to ask critical questions about pink ribbon promotions. This site is a great resource for any questions you might have about supporting Breast Cancer Awareness, whilst navigating the potentially harmful and unethical product gauntlet you may have to run on the way.

But if you insist on wearing pink this October, be sure to try these great pinks from our favourite clean beauty brands.

Take REAL action

So you can ensure you choose brands that have committed to omit harmful chemicals from their ingredient lists, AND donate directly to a breast cancer charity; Breast Cancer Action advises that you ask the following questions before you purchase products with a pink ribbon.

1.   How much if the money from this purchase actually goes to supporting breast cancer programs? And if so, how much?

2.   Which organisation will receive the money, and how is the money being spent to make a positive impact on breast cancer?

3.   Is there a cap on how much the company will donate to the cause? Has the maximum donation been reached?

4.   Does this purchase put yourself or your loved ones at risk of exposure to toxins linked to breast cancer, and what measures does the company have in place to ensure they are not contributing to the breast cancer epidemic?


If you want to contribute to cancer research and know that all your hard earned money is going to the cause, you can donate directly to breast cancer charities.

Breast Cancer Now

Cancer Research

Breast Cancer UK

If you know of any other worthy breast cancer charities, please do let us know!