When people are in need, food banks and government assistance help to put food on the table. But as these resources have been more in demand due to the pandemic, there still isn’t a similar solution for people to get personal care and hygiene products, which are just as important to their health and dignity. The gap is most pronounced in hair care, which led hair care brand Curlsmith to partner with Project Beauty Share to donate products to those in need.

“When we started learning more about hygiene poverty, it was a cause that touched our hearts, because it’s sometimes easy to dismiss beauty and personal care as frivolous and superficial,” said Kate Berski, Co-Founder of hair care brand Curlsmith. “But actually, when you’re talking about families, and particularly women, in times of crisis—whether that’s homelessness, domestic violence, or other kinds of general poverty—which has been exacerbated by the pandemic, and the employment issues that have resulted from that, you realize that washing your hair is kind of a basic human need. The double benefit of beauty and personal care products is you don’t just help a woman stay clean, but you give her the confidence to go about her day, seek employment, and feel good about herself again.”

Joining Forces to Fill a Gap

That’s why Kate and the Curlsmith team decided to join forces with Project Beauty Share and donate essential hair care products to help end hygiene poverty. Project Beauty Share provides personal and hygiene products—such as toothpaste, deodorant, pads, tampons, shampoo and conditioner—to other nonprofits who distribute them to women and families overcoming abuse, addiction, homelessness, and poverty.

Curlsmith is providing Project Beauty Share with $50,000 worth of essential hair care products per year, as well as a charitable activity, once every quarter. Their partnership kicked off on February 8 and 9 with Curlsmith’s ‘1 for 1’ promotion in which they donated one full size product for every order placed on curlsmith.com (up to 1,000 full size products), with a donation valued at over $25,000, helping at least 1,000 women or families.

“Project Beauty Share always have a call out particularly for hair care products; we’ve been told it’s one of the biggest gaps in their offer,” Kate said. “We have seen big hygiene and skin care brands, but we haven’t seen many hair care brands making donations, so we knew we could fill the gap there. Being a premium brand, that’s not something that some of the service users might have access to. We thought we could help bring that extra boost and little glow to the lives of women and families in difficult times.”

Making a Difference Beyond Donations

The partnership goes more than skin deep, since people living in poverty are more likely to have health issues and low self-esteem. To expand their efforts to help end hygiene poverty, Curlsmith has a similar partnership with UK-based nonprofit The Hygiene Bank, which also provides essential hygiene products.

“We’ve signed a one-year contract with Project Beauty Share, but I can’t see that ending,” Kate said. “We’re also going to be making regular donations so that the charity knows they can rely on Curlsmith to provide the essentials of shampoo and conditioners every quarter. There are lots of conversations going on. We definitely want to do fundraising activities as well, because these organizations need cash donations to run and pay their small staff.”

The Curlsmith portfolio includes shampoos, conditioners, masks, styling products and hair supplements targeting moisture, scalp care, strength and temporary hair color. While originally targeted to the textured and curly hair care market, the brand now makes products that benefit all hair types with clean ingredients backed by science. Curlsmith began as an online community on YouTube and Instagram offering hair care content for managing curls and waves. Fueled by their community, a hair care line was developed and within a year it landed in 1,200 Ulta Beauty stores.

Kate sees their partnership with Project Beauty Share as part of Curlsmith’s journey to become a better business. They’re newly carbon neutral, are working toward becoming a certified B-corp, and offer “Feel Good Fridays” to their staff, in which everyone gets half a day a month to donate their time to the cause of their choice.

“Something that’s so close to me is to make sure we use our business as a force for good,” Kate said. “Our mission and our purpose is all about confidence and making everybody feel great about the hair they have. I think the emotional benefits of beauty and haircare products is almost even more significant than the hygiene benefits.”