Here at The Unedit, we've featured articles on several occasions that discuss period poverty, the term used for when women are unable to have access to sanitary products as a result of not being able to afford them, or having to prioritise their budget elsewhere for the likes of food and basic living expenses. But it goes beyond that: hygiene poverty. According to this In Kind Direct report, 37% of people in the UK have had to go without hygiene and grooming products as a result of lack of funds, which, as a result of many of our's privilege, we forget that for some, basic items such as deodorant, toothpaste, and body wash aren't available.
Beauty PR director Jo Jones and writer Sali Hughes, both of whom have careers that revolve around a vast amount of these kinds of products, were shocked when they saw figures surrounding hygiene poverty and found themselves determined to try and combat it. In their world, it's common practice to be surrounded by the latest products, many of which go to waste or sit unused in desk drawers or bottoms of handbags leading up to their expiration dates. From there, they launched Beauty Banks, a non-profit that collects hygiene, grooming and beauty products for those who need it, working alongside The Trussell Trust, who operate a network of food banks and homeless shelters.
“Personal hygiene should be everyone's right. Being able to access basic hygiene products not only makes you feel better but it makes you feel like part of society - it helps you not to stand out, it makes you more employable, it makes it easier for teenage girls to attend school and not feel insecure that they're on their period and they can't afford protection,” Hughes told British Vogue. “Nobody would choose washing over eating if they could only afford one, but nobody should be forced to make that choice.”
“Can you imagine being a teenager who doesn't have access to body wash, shampoo and deodorant?' Jones added. 'For us it's all about small differences. Like the girl who goes to school during her period rather than skipping it - it's that. Or the homeless guy who can have a shave before going to a job interview. Small differences can have a big impact on self-esteem, self-confidence and our dignity.”
The best part? You can help, too.
The rules are pretty simple. All products must be unopened for health and safety reasons. As a non-profit, Beauty Banks can't accept money, so send products only. Also, nail polish, nail polish remover, and perfumes are a no-no due to the fact that they're restricted solvents.
When it comes to buying or collecting the products, think about the kind of products you wouldn't think twice about. Shampoo, sanitary items, shaving products, soap, toothpaste. Also, if you stay in hotels or fly regularly, collect toiletries from inside your room or the stuff inside your in-flight bag. Travel-sized items are also lighter to carry, as the majority of people receiving the products will be on the move a lot, so the lighter their load, the more comfortable it is for them. Be savvy. If you can't get out to the shops to buy products yourself, you can shop directly from Beauty Banks' Amazon wishlist, which will save a trip to the post office as well.
If you're packing up your own products, place them all in a box, labelling each side with the words 'Beauty Banks'. Then, send your box (or boxes) to:
c/o Jo Jones
The Communications Store
2 Kensington Square
[Header Source: @topshelfieillustrated]