Why I Won’t Be Spotlighting BCA Beauty Products

breast_cancerFor months now I have been receiving pitches from beauty brands and PR firms far and wide about which beauty products will be donating some or all of their proceeds to breast cancer charities. Most beauty magazines and beauty blogs have already started posting about them. And sure last year I went to Estee Lauder’s office in Manhattan for the BCRF kickoff (and it was a great experience.) And I was a part of Total Beauty’s “Total Beauty Total Cure” last year as well. Here locally, I’ve even organized vendor fairs to raise money for the American Cancer Society (and proud to have raised $3K for them. Although I have since learned they are rated F in Charity Watch.)

But this year I thought to myself…if I want to support a breast cancer charity and research, why do I have to buy lipstick to do so?

Many of you may be familiar with the term “pink washing” which in a sense means that there is a feeling that brands are using this disease to promote their own products. Some brands give 10% of their profits, some give 100%, but the bottom line is the publicity and brand awareness of their own products…which in a sense means an exploitation of a disease that is killing so many women that it is not even funny.

I live in the Pocono Mountains. This area is known to be a cancer cluster. I cannot even tell you how many people I have known who have died from cancer since I moved here. So many people in my own family have battled cancer of one kind or another. This may lead you to ask why I won’t spotlight beauty products with the pink ribbon if it means money going to charity.

The real, true answer? Because I think you should just donate 100% of your money to the charity directly. Sure, if you are already in the market for a new shower gel or lipstick, go ahead and buy one that will be donating to the cause, but if you really and truly want to make a difference, then pop online and make a direct donation to the cancer charity of your choice who have an A rating. Then there are no worries about how much of your money is going to help a woman battling this disease because A rated charites have lower administrative costs with more of the donation going towards research and supporting local chapters.

And you know what? Cancer hits any time of year. Any day, any hour, any person, regardless of religion, creed, gender, age or social class. So please don’t only donate to one cancer-specific charity in October. Donate any time of the year and to whichever cancer charity has your heart.

That is all. Sorry for the rant, but I felt it needed to be said. Please share your thoughts.

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Posted on by Shannon Smyth in beauty 17 Comments

About the author

Shannon Smyth

Shannon began A Girl's Gotta Spa! beauty blog in 2005 to morph her love of beauty and in educating women on what truly works and what does not. She has been featured in Glamour, VOGUE Australia, Woman's World, Nail Pro, SHAPE and on WBRE's PA Live. She is a go-to source for social media consulting when it comes to beauty brands.

17 Responses to Why I Won’t Be Spotlighting BCA Beauty Products

  1. Alyson@GlossMenagerie

    Shannon I completely agree. I have gotten BCA product pitches too, but I’m not interested in featuring them either.

  2. nandoism

    Great post and ideology behind it–rock on!

  3. Nicole Chase


    This is a great post. You make some good points especially the fact that cancer can strike at any given time, not just October. Also, people shouldn’t feel that the only way that they can support the cause is by buying products that are donating a certain amt to the cause. Lastly, exploitation of the disease is something that I never took into consideration until you explained it here.

    Thanks for ranting or better yet exposing your audience to a different way of looking at the cause.

  4. Fresco Phyrra

    As long as awareness is raised, and that people learn that it can affect not only women but men, I’m happy. I’m doing a BCA product on my blog for the first time this year. However, I know that many people don’t seem to realize how breast cancer can affect anyone. My grandmother had to have a masectomy and is a breast cancer survivor. My boyfriend had to have a bilateral masectomy done last year as he had breast lumps, and since his grandfather was a breast cancer survivor and he lost his mother to breast cancer, it was critical for him to have the surgery. I also had a scare with breast cancer 8 years ago, and was lucky that it turned out to be benign, but I still carry the scar.

  5. Shawn K. Quinn

    I agree with Fresco. Anyone remember Rod Roddy, game show announcer (Press Your Luck, Price is Right)? He was diagnosed with breast cancer shortly before his death in 2003. If it can happen to him, it can happen to any other guy out there.

  6. Henna

    Hey Shannon,

    You raised a lot of good points! I totally agree with you – if you really want to help, it’s probably a better idea to just donate directly. Unfortunately, most people don’t think of doing that, and so treating themselves to La Mer is the next best thing, I guess.

  7. Kimberly Kolodziejski

    Hi Shannon:
    I truly respect your opinion, but have another to offer from the other side of the counter. Chella had been asked to offer products for this Month and we offered products to reviewers as well. We believed that the opportunity to support this event was very important as this event has created such an awareness of Breast Cancer over the few years of its existance.
    Understanding we are a very small company, our contribution will not add much to the BCA bottom line. In addition, we do not we expect to generate any increase in revenue and, while it is difficult to mesure, we aren’t participating in order to increase our brand awareness. We have donated over $1000 in product (remember, we are not Estee Lauder) and will be donating 50% of any purchases that are made, but the real interest for Chella was supporting this cause and supporting our Blogging Beauties in their BCA endeavors.
    I agree that BCA should be an ongoing crusade, but I also feel that every little thing that is done to encourage BCA is a positive step forward. Any reason to have the Breast Cancer conversation initiated ~a conversation which is a difficult one at best, should be embraced by as many people as possible.
    Thanks for the platform to comment!

  8. Lisa Kennally -lisa ann skincare

    I totally agree with Kimberly. I’m sure there are many companies using the BCA to increase their brand awareness but let’s not forget the end result..more awareness of a serious and widespread disease and more money being donated to research and other support organizations. I have a skin care business and we have always donated to BCA charities and personally I donate year round. My sister has been battling breast cancer for the last 7 + years and I’m very happy to designate a product in my line as our “BCA” product.

  9. penelope

    this is so true. i have never looked at this in this perspective!!

  10. Indian Girl

    Great post, Shannon !

    I learn’t about giving form my mom. She does everything she can for everybody whether she knows them or not. And never once have I seen her buy a lipstick which indirectly led to helping a cause.
    You raised some very good points. Though I understand it is all about Corporate Charity, I wish they went big and just gave. Instead of tricking customers into buying something from them in order for them to give something back to the society.
    I must say I have in the past bought a few L’Oreal goodies because I felt good that they donated. But I don’t do it anymore. It feels much better and more rewarding to one’s soul when you give directly whether by cheque or by putting in man hours.

  11. Pierce Mattie

    Shannon & Friends,

    This brings up a bigger topic than BCA – cause related marketing. I am professionally torn over it. I am for it because it creates awareness for new issues and rallies consumers together for support. I am against it because as Shannon Nelson put it; “washing.” But this also asks the question – is 10% better than 100%? No, but it’s better than zero. I think if October sales of creams and lotions can save one life – then it’s worth it and as humans we can’t put a price or value on life, not through PR, cause related marketing, pink/red/yellow ribbons, you just can’t. And if you are going to get in a snit about BCA – well then you can’t support Heart Disease Month, Earth Day, Aids Month or really even Christmas for that matter, now can you?

    Moral of the story – lighten up and by some flipping lipstick!


  12. Mary007

    Hi! I’m a first time reader of your blog. My hats off to you! Not only did you say what was in your mind but I can tell you spoke from the heart. I couldn’t agree with you more on this topic. I’ve browsed these “pink” products and I noticed that the prices are marked up. It’s hard to believe that the “pink” product cost more to make than the same product in blue. It seems like these companies are not really losing any profit by donating whatever % from the proceeds because they’ve marked up the product. I’ve maybe bought one of these “pink” products and prefer to donate directly to a charity. That’s just me.

  13. Anna S.

    I completely understand. My grandparents died from cancer so it’s a sensitive issue for my family. I often saw the ads during month of October saying that X brand will donate 5-10% from such and such product…. but really that is a very small amount of money in the end… I would probably buy the product and feel better about purchasing it if all brands donated 100% or more.

  14. Jennifer H.

    Hi Shannon!

    I totally agree! As a beauty business owner, myself, it has run across my mind to do a product for breast cancer awareness. The thing is, it’s not something I have any experience with personally (or close to my family). I think I am very lucky, especially after reading the other gals’ posts. I have spent a little time thinking what “cause” I would like to support and I don’t want to pick one just to have one for the PR. I am waiting until I find something I am truly passionate about. Until then, if I want to bring awareness to something, I can blog about it.

    Thanks for your great post!

  15. The Fashionable Housewife

    I agree with you Shannon. That’s why we decided to do a Breast Cancer Awareness fundraiser and giveaway. (Fashionable Gals For A Cure)

    All of us at Fashionable Media felt that just telling people to buy more “pink stuff” was pretty meaningless and bland. Instead we are encouraging people to donate to Breast Cancer Research via Susan G Komen and they will be rewarded with prizes if they do!!! We’re giving away 20 gift baskets with over $3,000 worth of products and gift cards.

    I hope you’ll consider posting about “Fashionable Gals For A Cure” and help support our efforts to raise awareness and money for BC research instead of just selling pink products.

    Great post!!

  16. Allie

    Hi Shannon,

    I respectfully completely disagree. As a PR practitioner i represent a brand with a ‘BCA’ product and it is always the highlight of my year.

    It feels so good to be promoting something more than just a product. The letters we’ve received from women saying how much they appreciate our donations have been heartwarming, not to mention the effect some of our local initiatives have had on communities.

    As a previous post pointed out, something is better than nothing. Our product sells for the same price all year, with 20% of sales donated to BCA in October. Who wouldn’t want to support a great cause and their favorite brand at the same time?

    The more you support, the more initiatives like this will continue – cause marketing is the best thing that’s happened to fundraising in the last 20 years.

    Of course it has to serve two purposes (selling products is a business after all), promoting the brand and maintaining profitability (essential for any COMPANY) while bringing awareness and, most importantly, money to causes that need it. sounds like a win win to me, and i’ll continue being a proud part of it.

  17. Pingback: Best Charities for Breast Cancer Research | Best in Beauty

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