Breast Cancer Awareness and COVID-19

Lezlee Westine
President and CEO, Personal Care Products Council

Each October, communities across the country align to raise awareness for breast cancer and promote the need for education, screening, early detection, new treatment therapies and patient support. With sustained focus over the last 40 years, significant advances have increased survival rates and improved the quality of life for the one in eight people diagnosed with the disease.

The pandemic has impacted our everyday lives in countless ways, including delays of life-saving screening tests necessary for the early detection and treatment of breast cancer. Mammogram rates across the country are down significantly versus screenings at pre-COVID-19 levels, as hospitals shifted their focus to treat those diagnosed with COVID-19 and patients opted to delay screening tests for fear of contracting the virus.

Although the pandemic has caused tremendous devastation and loss of life, it is also a reminder that we are all in this together. By uniting as a community to face the health and safety consequences of this virus, we continue to demonstrate our resilience when we work together against a common enemy. Breast cancer is no different.

More than 30 years ago, the beauty and personal care industry came together to support women being treated for cancer. Look Good Feel Better was the first program of its kind to help cancer patients manage the appearance-related side effects from treatment. The program was based on the belief that by helping to improve appearance, the workshops could also improve morale, confidence and hope. Having now served more than 2 million people in 27 countries, the program helps women – and men and teens – face cancer with confidence. Look Good Feel Better is a clear demonstration of the good that can happen when we unite behind a larger purpose.

While in-person LGFB workshops have been suspended through the end of 2020 due to COVID-19 health and safety concerns for participants, volunteers and hospital staff partners, the beauty industry’s signature philanthropic program offers live virtual workshops as a safe, convenient way for women to realize the benefits of the program from the comfort of their homes. Truly among the most vulnerable of populations, anyone who is being treated for cancer needs to take extra precautions to ensure their health and safety.

As an industry committed to women’s health and well-being, many beauty and personal care companies – including Avon, The Estée Lauder Companies, Mary Kay, Revlon and Henkel, among others – support longstanding educational programs and campaigns for breast cancer. In addition to raising awareness, these companies advocate for public policies that support reproductive health; commit funds for life saving research and treatments; and provide emotional support programs for the millions of men, women and teens affected, directly or indirectly, by breast cancer.

While researchers around the world are working to advance breast cancer treatment and eradicate the disease, we know that early detection is key to more available treatment options, increased survival and improved quality of life. This makes routine breast cancer screenings all the more important even during COVID-19. Many hospitals and other healthcare facilities across the country have reopened and are offering mammograms, ultrasounds and MRIs. If you have postponed your mammogram because of COVID-19, check with your primary care physician or gynecologist about rescheduling.

Breast cancer impacts the lives of so many people. Together, we can show our support for those affected by the disease and celebrate its survivors with these simple acts:

  1. Know the facts
    Know your risk factors and how to identify key symptoms of breast cancer.
  2. Wear and shop pink
    Help raise awareness for breast cancer by adding a touch of pink to your wardrobe.
  3.  Volunteer
    Offer your time to an organization focused on the disease, such as the Breast Cancer Charities of America (BCCA) and Susan G. Komen.
  4.  Make a donation
    Give a gift in honor of a survivor or loved one to help those still fighting against cancer. Donate to a worthy organization, such as Look Good Feel Better, Susan G. Komen, or the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. 

Transparency and Compliance in the Supply Chain

Lisa Powers
EVP, Public Affairs & Communications, Personal Care Products Council

Today’s increasingly complex global supply chains present many challenges for companies who are under heightened stakeholder scrutiny—from consumers, investors and NGOs focused on their ability to operate ethically, build resilience and manage risk. Recently, COVID-19 has forced many companies, and entire industries, to rethink and transform their global supply chain models.

Over the past few decades, companies have taken advantage of global sourcing opportunities in order to compete more efficiently, whether through reduced production costs, proximity to market or the need for specialized skills, which have introduced new types of risk.  

While some of these risks are direct, like supply chain disruptions or trade tariffs, others are less obvious—such as intellectual property theft and public relations crises—but equally threatening to businesses.

COVID-19 has placed manufacturers worldwide under increasing political and competitive pressures to increase domestic production; reduce dependence on sources that are perceived as risky; and build more agile, resilient and sustainable supply chains.

Members of the Personal Care Products Council (PCPC) are united in their commitment to operate responsibly and integrate sustainable practices along the entire value chain. As part of PCPC’s efforts to advance the capabilities, know-how and understanding of best practices, we recently launched a sustainability-focused webinar series for members, the most recent of which focused on transparency and compliance in the supply chain.

Webinar guest speaker Sandy Gray, supply chain sustainability solutions at EcoVadis, a CSR risk monitoring and sustainability rating platform, noted that beauty and cosmetics manufacturers must consider sustainability throughout the product lifecycle—from raw materials and manufacturing to packaging, distribution and retail—as more than two thirds of many beauty and personal care products’ environmental impacts occur upstream in the supply chain.



The beauty and personal care sector has been responsive to requests for greater disclosure around ES&G (Environmental, Social & Governance) performance from consumers, regulators, investors and other key stakeholders. These groups expect greater transparency around the impacts created in a company’s owned sites and operations and also that of their suppliers. In a demonstration of extraordinary leadership, an increasing number of companies in the sector have set ambitious goals to reduce their environmental impacts along the entire value chain. For example, many of PCPC’s member companies have set science-based greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction goals or aim to be carbon neutral or net positive. These commitments include the disclosure of scope 3 emissions made by suppliers. Setting goals, however, is only part of the solution. Disclosure, transparency and compliance are the mechanism to ensure performance and progress.  

According to Cliodhnagh Conlon, webinar presenter and associate director of consumer sectors & supply chain at BSR, one of the country’s leading sustainability nonprofit and consulting firms, new technologies, like blockchain, to identify and track steps throughout the supply chain will play an important role in not only meeting compliance requirements, but also providing transparency and assurance to  ensure trust with key audiences, including consumers.

Transparency in the supply chain is particularly important to consumers—73% say transparency is valuable to them and a majority say they are more likely or very likely to pay more for products from companies that operate in a more transparent manner.1

The beauty and personal care products industry is leading the way with several initiatives to promote sustainability, transparency and compliance, which leverage science-based and collaborative approaches, including:

  • The Responsible Beauty Initiative pre-competitive industry program focuses on improving sustainability throughout the entire beauty supply chain by sharing best practices and processes; driving a common understanding across the industry; and creating efficiencies through the use and sharing of common tools.
  • The Sustainable Packaging Initiative for Cosmetics (SPICE) pre-competitive industry program aims to define harmonized guidelines for sustainable packaging and create approaches and innovations based on eco-design.
  • The Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) requires GHG emission reduction targets to be adopted by companies to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement—to limit global warming to well-below 2°C above pre-industrial levels.
  • CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project) is a recognized global system for companies to measure, disclose, manage and share carbon emissions and other material environmental information.

These efforts are making a difference. According to analysis from EcoVadis, the beauty sector is a leader among industries when it comes to global sustainability ratings: 74% of suppliers to the beauty industry scored above the national average in a robust rating scale that measures 21 criteria related to the environment; labor and human rights; ethics; and sustainable procurement.

The industry’s commitment to ethical and transparent practices—as well as to the responsible management of its environmental impacts and economic and social value—is unwavering. Our 2019 sustainability report, Creating a More Beautiful World, highlights the innovative ways member companies integrate sustainability into their businesses.

While we are proud of the efforts individual companies are making in the sustainable management of their businesses, we recognize companies large and small still have more to do. Looking to the future, PCPC and the beauty and personal care products industry remain committed to transparency and continuous improvement. Together, we are making a difference to help create a more beautiful and sustainable world.


1 Source: Pure Branding, The ROI of Transparency




Preserving the Abundance of Nature

Lisa Powers
EVP, Public Affairs & Communications, Personal Care Products Council

On July 28, we celebrate World Nature Conservation Day to raise awareness, and encourage advocacy and action for the health and well-being of our environment. It is an opportunity to acknowledge the urgent need for the preservation and protection of our natural resources and to ensure their abundance for future generations.

Experts agree that human activities on Earth are causing widespread resource depletion and degradation. Humanity’s ecological footprint (a measure of consumption and impact on the planet) is estimated to be two to three times the Earth’s capacity to sustainably provide resources to meet demand. Fueled by population growth, the shortfall between the supply of resources and the demand for them is being met through the depletion (or degradation) of natural capital – things like clean air, fresh water, soil, forests, wetlands, marine ecosystems and biodiversity. Rising demand for resources to meet the needs of more than 7.6 billion people has transformed land use and generated unprecedented levels of pollution and ecosystem loss. Scientists estimate Earth’s overshoot (when humanity’s needs exceed the planet’s capacity) began in the 1970s, and has accelerated ever since.

While we may not experience the decline in resources, biodiversity loss and species extinction on an individual level, nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history.1 Scientists believe biodiversity loss affects ecosystems as much as climate change, pollution and other major forms of environmental stress; numerous studies have demonstrated that more biologically diverse ecosystems are healthier and more productive. Driven by continued disruptions to the environment, scientists predict that more than 1 million species are on track for extinction in the coming decades.

Leading nonprofit conservation organizations like the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Conservation International and The Nature Conservancy, however, know we can be smarter about how we use our oceans, freshwater and land, and how we produce energy, food and other resources. They believe we have the knowledge and capability to explore new ways to feed the growing population, meet our energy demands and manage our water supply.

The beauty and personal care industry recognizes that we are at a cross roads – actions taken now are essential to protecting the natural world we rely on today and to ensure a sustainable tomorrow. Most of the leading companies in the sector have established goals to reduce their operating and product footprints, to better manage their resource use and reduce waste. Some have programs in place to protect against deforestation and biodiversity loss but, admittedly, it will require more than the efforts of just one sector to halt and reverse what we are experiencing.

In order to ensure a healthy future for our planet and all humankind, we need public policies that protect our fragile ecosystems, biodiversity and species and technology to enable us to distribute these finite resources smarter and more efficiently. Most importantly, we need to rethink how we value nature and its role in our existence, and conserve on a far greater scale.

How You Can Help

  • Talk to others about conservation and its importance for our planet
  • Support a conservation organization with a donation or membership
  • Conserve in your own life: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
  • Support those on the front lines of conservation work by reading a book or watching a documentary that celebrates nature and sustainability



Celebrating Our Marine Ecosystems: World Oceans Day

Alexandra Kowcz
Chief Scientist, Personal Care Products Council

World Oceans Day, celebrated on June 8, provides the opportunity to recognize the vital need to protect our oceans. Covering 70 percent of the earth’s surface, the Arctic, Southern, Indian, Atlantic and Pacific oceans contribute innumerable benefits to our planet and all that lives here. Oceans provide half of the world’s oxygen; absorb 50 times more CO2 than the atmosphere; help regulate the earth’s climate; enable transportation and recreation; are the feedstock for many medicines; and provide significant economic benefits to society. Oceans are a key natural resource, upon which hundreds of millions of people depend, and are essential to the welfare and prosperity of human life.1

The earth’s oceans make our planet livable. Over-fishing, sea water acidification, warming temperatures and rising sea levels (caused by climate change) and pollution, however, are threatening their ability to support marine life — and us.

Plastic pollution is perhaps the most widespread and tangible problem affecting the marine environment today. A 2014 report by the UN Environment Program estimated plastic consumer goods causes $75 billion of environmental harm annually to natural ecosystems, including $13 billion specifically to marine ecosystems.2 After one use, 95 percent of plastic packaging material value ends up in landfills, as roadside litter or in our marine environments.



While plastics play a crucial role in modern life, plastic waste threatens our oceans’ health; food safety and quality; coastal tourism; and long-term human health. There is widespread acknowledgement, however, that quick fixes that address the symptoms are not enough; only a systemic shift that addresses the root cause of plastic waste recovery and management, implemented in coalitions by numerous actors along the entire value chain, will result in substantive change.

Recognizing the impacts of single use plastic packaging on marine ecosystems, the beauty and personal care industry is committed to working together to develop upstream and downstream solutions to address the issue, including:

  • Accelerating and scaling the development of alternative materials;
  • Developing innovative products designed for circular business models;
  • Engaging consumers in thoughtful disposal behaviors/recycling; and
  • Supporting collection infrastructure and the separation and sorting of plastic waste.

As part of their commitment to sustainability, and in an effort to address reliance on a single use model, several PCPC member companies, including Colgate-Palmolive, Henkel, Johnson & Johnson, L’Oréal, Procter & Gamble, The Estée Lauder Companies and Unilever, have set ambitious, time-bound goals that all their plastic packaging will be recyclable, reusable, compostable, or refillable. Many brands are making recycling easier for consumers to bring their empty packaging back to the point of sale (POS), or return by mail, often incentivized with a reward. Brands are also increasing their use of recycled content, or using new material sources like paper that’s both recyclable and compostable, and can be made from recycled materials.

Every year, our oceans provide us with a wealth of goods and services, conservatively valued at $2.5 trillion, and play a fundamental role in supporting life on earth.3 In addition to industry’s actions, there are actions each of us can take. Most people are familiar with the three R’s – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle – to help reduce plastic waste and its impact on our planet. Here are some additional things you can do to protect our oceans:

Reduce Your Carbon Footprint and Energy Consumption

Reduce the effects of climate change on the ocean by leaving the car at home when you can and being conscious of your energy use at home and work.

 Make Safe, Sustainable Seafood Choices

When shopping or dining out, help reduce the demand for over-exploited species by choosing seafood that is both healthful and sustainable.

 Use Fewer Plastic Products

Carry a reusable water bottle, store food in non-disposable containers, bring your own reusable bag when shopping and recycle whenever possible. Avoid single use plastic like straws, bags and bottled water.

 Help Take Care of the Beach

Whether you enjoy diving, surfing or relaxing on the beach, always clean up after yourself.

Travel the Ocean Responsibly

Practice responsible boating, kayaking and other recreational activities on the water.

Support Organizations Working to Protect the Ocean

Consider giving financial support or volunteering for hands-on work or advocacy with a conservation organization.





Sun Safety in the Shadow of COVID-19

Alexandra Kowcz
Chief Scientist, Personal Care Products Council

Memorial Day Weekend signals the arrival of summer and, with it, familiar warm-weather activities like afternoons at the beach or pool, back-yard BBQs and more time spent outdoors. For many people across the country who have respected the stay-at-home orders to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, summer cannot come soon enough. And while many states have initiated reopening plans to reboot their economies – easing restrictions on beaches, parks and other outdoor recreational sites – this will not be a typical summer. Although scientists continue to study whether higher temperatures, humidity and sunlight will have a mitigating impact on the spread of COVID-19, health agencies continue to recommend the use of face masks and social distancing.

In addition to these new COVID-19 behaviors we have adopted to keep us healthy, we also need to practice sun safety. While we may be experiencing a vitamin D deficiency from sheltering indoors, it is important to take precautions to protect ourselves from the sun’s damaging rays once we emerge from our homes. Experts believe four out of five cases of skin cancer caused by ultraviolet (UV) exposure could be prevented.

As we begin to venture outdoors, here is a reminder of the measures you can take to stay safe in the sun:

Limit Your Exposure

To protect against damage from the sun’s rays, try to avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the rays are strongest. Another approach to determine when best to stay out of the sun is by using the shadow rule: “Short Shadow, Seek Shade.” The intensity of UV rays is directly related to the angle of the sun (or altitude above the horizon). When a person’s shadow is shorter than they are tall, the intensity of UV rays is more likely to cause sunburn.

You can also consult the UV Index, which indicates how strong the UV light is in your area on any given day. Developed by the U.S. National Weather Service and Environmental Protection Agency, a higher number (from 1 to 11+) means greater risk of exposure and higher chance of sunburn and skin damage that could ultimately lead to skin cancer. When the sun is strongest, seek shade under an umbrella, tree or other sun blocking structure.

Wear Protective Clothing

Hats, sunglasses and long-sleeved shirts and pants can provide important protection from UV rays. Clothing made from tightly woven fabric, wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays offer the best protection. Some clothing certified under international standards comes with information on its ultraviolet protection factor.

Liberally Apply Sunscreen

Sunscreens are designed to protect the skin by absorbing, reflecting or dispersing the sun’s rays and are typically categorized into either UV absorbers or UV reflectors. UV absorbers are chemicals, like avobenzone and octinoxate, that absorb UV radiation and convert it to a very low level of heat. UV reflectors block and scatter the rays before they penetrate the skin and include minerals like titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. Both types of sunscreens are available in many forms including lotions, creams, ointments, gels, sprays and balms.

Sunscreens are assigned a sun protection factor (SPF) that rates their effectiveness in blocking UV rays. A product’s SPF helps determine how long it will protect you before you need to re-apply or how long you can stay in the sun without burning. For example, if unprotected skin takes ten minutes to show signs of burning, SPF 30 sunscreen (when properly applied) would slow the rate of burning by 30 times, or 300 minutes in total. SPF 15 would provide 150 safe minutes; SPF 50, 500 minutes; etc.

You should always wear a sunscreen with at least SPF 30, no matter your skin tone. Even people with very dark skin can burn and develop skin cancer. When you see the term “broad spectrum” on a sunscreen product, it means you have protection from both UVA and UVB rays.

Apply your sunscreen liberally at least 30 minutes before going outside and remember to re-apply it every two hours and immediately after swimming or perspiring. If you’re taking medication, ask your doctor if it will make your skin more sensitive to the sun. Certain antibiotics, birth control pills, diuretics, antihistamines and anti-depressants can increase one’s sensitivity to the sun’s rays.

Health and safety are, rightfully, in the spotlight these days. In addition to social distancing and wearing a face covering, don’t forget to protect yourself from the damaging effects of the sun!

Earth Day 2020: An Awakening for Climate Change

Pamela Gill Alabaster
Contributing Writer

On the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, we celebrate the progress we have made over the last half century, while recognizing the work that must still be done to reduce the ongoing impact we have on our planet. COVID-19, in particular, has forced us to reexamine the interdependent relationship between people and nature.

The coronavirus pandemic has changed our daily lives in so many ways; in addition to the tragic loss of life, the virus has significantly disrupted society and the global economy. And while the impacts to human life have been unimaginable, there have also been corresponding temporary benefits to our natural world.

Global shelter-in-place mandates have resulted in widely reported climate benefits and significantly cleaner air. As industries, transportation networks, and businesses have slowed or shut down, there has been a dramatic drop in carbon emissions. Air pollution levels in China, New York, Spain, and the UK are meaningfully lower. From clearer water in Venice to blue skies in Beijing, our environment is experiencing positive change as a result of our response to the outbreak. These environmental benefits illuminate the trade-offs we face every day between our human wants and needs and the finite capacity of the planet to satisfy them.

More than 20 million Americans participated in the first Earth Day celebration fifty years ago, which led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the passage of federal laws intended to protect our air, water, and endangered species. Today, Earth Day is celebrated around the world. This year’s theme, climate action, provides us the opportunity to think about how these pro-climate behaviors and low-carbon lifestyles might continue post crisis.

For the beauty and personal care industry, climate action is central to environmental, social, and governance strategies. Today, 15 companies have committed to science-based targets to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (scope I, II, II) aligned with the Paris Agreement. These companies include: Beiersdorf, Colgate Palmolive, Croda, Firmenich, Givaudan, Henkel, International Flavors and Fragrance (IFF), Kao Corporation, L’Oréal, Procter & Gamble (P&G), Reckitt Benckiser, Symrise, Takasago, The Clorox Company, The Estée Lauder Companies, and Unilever.

Our industry recognizes the immediate and potential long-term impacts of climate change – its effect on our planet and the well-being of society. We are committed to improving energy efficiency along the entire value chain, shifting towards renewable energy sources, and reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. [Learn more from the industry’s 2019 Sustainability Report, Creating a More Beautiful World.]

Climate change is a tragedy of the global commons. However, just as COVID-19 has brought together people from around the world in solidarity to fight a common problem, so could we imagine a global response to climate change. We have seen the difference communities can make when they look out for one another and cooperate against a common enemy. Let’s learn from this crisis and apply social solidarity to address climate change for the future of our planet.

Pamela Alabaster serves as chief marketing and communications officer for Centric Brands and has been recognized by TriplePundit and Forbes as among the top women in sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility. Prior to her role at Centric Brands, Alabaster worked for the beauty industry for more than 25 years.

Caring for Our Communities: The Beauty and Personal Care Industry’s Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic

Lezlee Westine
President & CEO, Personal Care Products Council

In less than a month, the coronavirus changed how everyone around the world lives and works. It has caused significant economic loss and has tragically taken too many lives. Many of us are struggling with what is happening and how to adapt to this “new normal.” Amidst this rapid-fire change and uncertainty, however, there are many moments of encouragement and comfort as we witness generosity of spirit and the kindness of others.

The beauty and personal care industry is demonstrating its extraordinary corporate citizenship in a variety of ways during this crisis. Collectively, the industry is providing support to medical professionals on the front lines; nonprofit and relief organizations working to ensure the well-being of those less fortunate; and everyday citizens looking for ways to protect themselves and their families.

PCPC member companies including Amway, Combe, Coty, Johnson & Johnson, L’Oréal, LVMH, Mary Kay, Merle Norman, P&G, Revlon, Shiseido, The Estée Lauder Companies and Unilever, have voluntarily converted manufacturing lines to produce alcohol-based hand sanitizers for free distribution to medical professionals. Beiersdorf, Colgate, Henkel, Johnson & Johnson L’Oréal, P&G, The Estée Lauder Companies and Unilever are among those who have committed multi-million-dollar cash, product and in-kind donations of soap, personal hygiene and household cleaning products, as well as surgical masks and other protective equipment.

PCPC member companies are also providing millions of dollars in cash support to a range of disaster relief organizations including the Red Cross, Doctors without Borders, The NYC COVID-19 Response & Impact Fund, Feeding America, Feed the Children, and the WHO/UN COVID-19 Fund, among others.

Recognizing the significant financial hardship many smaller businesses are experiencing, industry leaders have also implemented measures to ease the financial burdens for those that have been forced to close, including hair salons, perfumeries and other professional beauty businesses. In addition to deferring payments until they reopen for business, some member companies are also providing flexible payment terms for mid-sized businesses and accelerating payment to smaller suppliers. Working in partnership with the Professional Beauty Association (PBA), companies like L’Oréal USA Professional Products Division, have made cash donations to the PBA COVID-19 Relief Fund, which supports licensed professionals who are unable to work due to COVID-19 and provides emergency aid for short-term immediate needs.

Finally, PCPC’s Look Good Feel Better (LGFB) Foundation is ensuring support remains available for cancer patients at high risk for COVID-19 who must continue their treatment protocols. In tandem with the CDC’s social distancing guidance, LGFB transitioned all patient workshop support to the existing LGFB Live! Virtual Workshops platform, offering interactive, livestreaming programs to patients seeking support and community during a period of increased isolation and anxiety.

We are grateful for the courageous health care professionals who tirelessly work to care for those affected by this pandemic. For their well-being and for the safety of others, I encourage us all to be good neighbors and follow the advice of global health organizations to stay home; if you must go out, observe the recommended social and physical distancing guidelines. In the words of Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization, “This is a time for facts, not fear. This is the time for science, not rumors. This is a time for solidarity, not stigma. We are all in this together and we can only stop it together.”

What is World Water Day?

Alexandra Kowcz
Chief Scientist, Personal Care Products Council

World Water Day is celebrated every year on March 22 to help raise awareness for our need to better mitigate our use of this finite resource, which is fundamental to human well-being and only renewable when carefully managed.

The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), launched in 2015, include a target to ensure everyone has access to safe water by 2030. Today, 3 in 10 people lack access to safe drinking water worldwide.1 Industry, government, academia, and civil society have all identified water shortages as a top global risk.

Recognizing clean, accessible water is essential for life, SDG #6 aims to address the economics and poor infrastructure that leaves millions of people, including children, without access to clean water.2 Fortunately, great progress has been made over the last decade; more than 90% of the world’s population now has access to improved sources of drinking water.3

However, as the global population grows, so will the demand for water; more people means more food production. Agriculture accounts for 70% of water withdrawals worldwide, making it by far the largest consumer of water.4 Therefore, to use water more responsibly, we must continue to identify solutions to protect our oceans and wetlands; implement new agricultural irrigation techniques; develop novel approaches to capturing and storing water; and increase the safe reuse of wastewater.

While the beauty and personal care sector is not a particularly water intensive industry, water is used in product formulations, in the manufacturing process, and by consumers when they use or remove products. Understanding the critical need for water conservation, numerous companies within the sector are learning how to do more with less and drive greater efficiency with their use of water across all aspects of a product’s lifecycle.

With ambitious public targets to reduce water consumption and improve efficiency in operations, AmorePacific, BASF, Burt’s Bees, Colgate-Palmolive, Croda, Edgewell, Givaudan, Henkel, Firmenich, IFF, KAO, L’Oréal, P&G, and Unilever have all implemented strategies that include tools to measure water use by function (cleaning, lavatories, steam heat, and cooling); closed-loop cooling systems; rainwater harvesting systems; and methods to optimize industrial processes to reduce or eliminate the need to source water from external water networks or operate with “dry” factories.

In addition to industry’s efforts to conserve water in operations, many companies are developing “Water-Smart” products, or products formulated to use less water, for instance:

  • Unilever’s Love Beauty and Planet line uses fast-rinse technology in its conditioners, saving time and water.
  • P&G and Henkel are promoting dry shampoo formulations, which enable consumers to go longer between washes; P&G’s waterless shampoo brands Gemz and EC30 go beyond preserving hair between washes.
  • Shiseido has developed a new rinse aid technology, adapted for a foaming facial wash, that reduces water required for rinsing by 35%.

Of course, each of us can also take actions that will make a big difference including:

  • Keep your showers to under 5 minutes.
  • Turn off the water to brush your teeth.
  • Only run the washing machine and dishwasher when you have a full load.
  • Use a low flow shower head and faucet aerators.
  • Install a dual flush or low flow toilet or put a conversion kit on your existing toilet.
  • Don’t overwater your lawn or water during peak periods; install rain sensors on irrigation systems.
  • Monitor your water usage on your water bill.
  • Clean up debris along waterways, lakes, creeks, ponds, streams, or other water sources.
  • Plant trees and native plants along water sources to help prevent erosion.

This year, as we celebrate World Water Day, let us focus our attention on how we can more equitably share, conserve and respect water’s essential role in the preservation of all living things.



To find out more about Goal #6 and the other Sustainable Development Goals, visit







Making Progress for Women … And the World

Lezlee Westine
President & CEO, Personal Care Products Council

The cosmetics and personal care products industry celebrates women every day of the year, and our commitment to well-being starts with our support for women in work and in life.

International Women’s Day (IWD), global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, gives us an opportunity to reflect on our commitment to women. We fundamentally support that an equal world is an empowered world. Our industry agrees that we must challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women’s achievements.

From Estée Lauder to Madam CJ Walker to Elizabeth Arden to Jo Malone to a new generation of female founders emerging today, no industry has as many female success stories as the beauty and personal care industry. Today, more than half our executives are women.  Women make up nearly two-thirds of our workforce, and women of color are leading voices. Our companies’ efforts for women in the workforce are recognized by Top Companies for Executive Women, Working Mother’s 100 Best Companies and Forbes’ America’s Best Employers for Women.

Our industry’s commitment to women and the world around us is unparalleled. As part of our commitment to providing products that enhance quality of life, companies make a significant and positive social impact that goes far beyond the direct benefits of their products. They support a wide range of CSR programs, issues, and causes that improve lives and make communities better. Companies in the beauty and personal care sector are generous charitable donors; per $1 million of sales, their annual charitable contributions are more than double the national average for other major industry sectors.

From the industry’s signature program, Look Good…Feel Better that helps people with cancer improve their self-esteem and confidence by helping them manage the appearance related side effects of cancer treatment, to programs supporting women’s empowerment and leadership; promoting STEM education and careers for women; initiatives addressing domestic violence; supporting breast cancer awareness, detection and treatment; campaigns promoting self-esteem; and programs tackling racial bias, our industry’s commitment to women and the world around them is strong.

International Women’s Day throughout its history has witnessed significant change and attitudinal shifts in both women’s and society’s thoughts about women’s equality and emancipation. The same is true for the personal care products industry. Our member companies are constantly adapting, not only to meet consumer preferences but also to help shape the future.

We know women expect a lot from us and want us to take action and to continuously improve our products and practices. While we are proud of the progress we have made, we know there is more to do. As we celebrate International Women’s Day, we celebrate the progress we have all made together and continue our commitment to supporting women and the world around them.

Celebrating Black History Month and Madam C.J. Walker: Entrepreneur, Philanthropist, Activist and Self-Made Business Woman

Lisa Powers
EVP, Public Affairs & Communications, Personal Care Products Council

“I had to make my own living and my own opportunity. But I made it! Don’t sit down and wait for the opportunities to come. Get up and make them.”

-Madam Walker

Madam C.J. Walker started her business at the turn of the century, at a time when women, including women of color, had few rights and little opportunity. Along with her contemporaries Helena Rubenstein, who opened her first beauty salon, the Valaze House of Beauty in 1902, and Elizabeth Arden, who’s renowned Red Door Salon was established in 1910, these women were pioneers in the beauty industry. They knew that the end game was less about beauty itself, although the benefits of self-confidence derived from these products were already well-established, it was more about female empowerment.

Madam Walker’s great-great-granddaughter and biographer A’Lelia Bundles sat down with us to tell us more about this amazing trailblazer.

Q. What inspired Madam C. J. Walker to start her business and why did it become such an important force for black women more than a century ago?

“It is really interesting to look at Elizabeth Arden, Helena Rubenstein and Madam Walker as part of a group of women who, at the turn of the last century, were pioneers of this modern haircare and cosmetics industry. They really did see a need in the market at a time when men were either ignoring the business aspects or didn’t view it as something important. And, it’s really amazing how they took home recipes and concoctions that were sold locally or regionally and turned those businesses into international operations with distribution and marketing. These women are part of the pantheon that created this industry.

Madam Walker saw a need because she had a personal problem-she had challenges with losing her hair- and she developed a shampoo and ointment with sulfur that healed the scalp, which became Madam Walker’s Wonderful Hair Grower, her most important product. The women whom she first treated just wanted to have healthier hair, and then she realized, that it wasn’t just about helping women have healthier hair, it was about helping women become economically independent. So in many ways, she was healing their scalps, but in other ways she was healing their souls and self-confidence. She trained thousands of women, traveled all over the United Sates, demonstrating her product and over a period of time, the hair care products became a means to a more significant end. Once she saw this transformation happening in women, she realized they needed to, not just look better and feel better, but they needed education and they needed economic opportunities.”

Q. Born Sarah Breedlove in 1867 in Louisiana, of humble beginnings, Madam Walker became a celebrated entrepreneur, philanthropist and social activist. Reflecting on her legacy, it is clear that she had purpose beyond making money, and that she intended to use her platform to create positive social impacts in communities across the country. Not only an advocate for women’s empowerment, Madam Walker also believed strongly in supporting communities. What can you tell us about how she used her platform to inspire positive change?

“At her first convention of sales agents in 1917, Madam Walker gave prizes to the women who had sold the most products and brought in the most new agents. She also gave prizes to women whose local clubs and chapters had contributed the most to charity. During her keynote address, she said, I want others to look at us and realize that as Walker Agents, we care not just about ourselves, but about others. And at the end of the convention, the women sent a telegram to President Woodrow Wilson urging him to support legislation to make lynching a federal crime. Madam Walker viewed her agents as community leaders and as women who were making a difference in the community. As she traveled around demonstrating her products, she would give a lecture that was more about what was happening in the black community, in education, and in politics, and try to identify other women who could be leaders in their communities. The seeds that Madam Walker planted recognized that we need to feel good about ourselves, but we also need education and financial independence.”

Q. Do you think business has an obligation to provide more than shareholder value? Is there a broader remit for the modern company, like your great-great- grandmother envisioned?

“There are some truly wealthy people today, who believe they have an obligation to give back, because others have sacrificed. Greed is not good. Corporations need to give to their communities. Corporations need to give back and there are a lot of great models today. I grew up in Indianapolis and the Lilly Endowment has been extremely generous to the community and has made Indianapolis a better place because of the investments it makes in education and cultural activities. So you can tell the difference in a city where a locally based corporation really wants to improve its community and not just profit from its community. You can truly tell the difference when the leadership of a company has a generous spirit and believes in its people.”

Q. Madam Walker’s successful direct sales business model was built on training and educating women in small towns across the country, providing them with skills and the opportunity to become economically independent and provide for their families. The beauty sector today is characterized by the employment opportunities it presents for women, people of color and small businesses. Today the sector has more women in management positions than the national average. What would Madam Walker say about the opportunities for women in business today? Have we made any progress?

“I think she would be happy to see so many women CEOs both in companies that they founded themselves, and in companies founded by other people in which they have worked their way up through the corporation. But, I think that she would also be frustrated, that less than 2% of venture capital is invested in women owned businesses, and businesses owned by women of color. She’d be happy to see there are more women millionaires, and more than one black woman billionaire, but she would think that there are still not enough women running the c- suites and not enough money being invested in women’s ventures.”

Q. What started as a restorative scalp treatment, Madam C.J. Walker’s Wonderful Hair Grower, became a thriving hair care company. Leveraging innovative marketing and sales approaches like using her likeness on packaging, with before and after imagery, placing her products on college campuses, and offering sales incentives, Madam Walker was well ahead of her time. Describing her concept and method of hair growth as beauty culture, and linking it to the positive appearance and conduct of black women, Madam Walker was in so many ways, without social media as we know it today, an influencer. Who are the role models and influencers that inform your attitudes about the world?

“My mother. She was very smart and knew how to bring people together and had very strong opinions. My mother was Vice President of the Madam C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company while I was growing up. And of course, studying the details of Madam Walker’s life and the breadth of her experience as a philanthropist, entrepreneur and suffragette and all of those other dimensions of her life has influenced me greatly. Marie Johns, with whom I grew up in Indianapolis, is someone I admire because she has managed to be a CEO, but she was also the person who cooks Thanksgiving dinner, or calls her friends and has them come over. The women who lives where they can be successful but also have generous spirits are the ones I admire most.”

Q. One of the most successful women entrepreneurs and the first self-made female millionaire, Madam Walker was a visionary with extraordinary courage, who pushed boundaries and challenged the status quo. What advice do you think Madam Walker would offer to young women starting their own businesses today?

“What she often said was first you must have a really great product and then you have to advertise and promote that product. If she were alive today, she would be on Instagram- she was an early adopter- and she understood the power of advertising. One of the reasons she moved to Indianapolis was because she had a mail order business and it had good distribution, because of its location and the train, but also because it had three black newspapers, including a nationally distributed newspaper, the Indianapolis Freeman, which was like a black USA Today, and she took out an ad in the paper, with a before and after picture, that demonstrated the product’s performance and included testimonials. She also surrounded herself with a strong executive team and she had a knack for selecting the right people. Lastly, she understood the power of philanthropy and doing for others. Her philanthropy she did out of the goodness of her heart, but it also elevated her in the eyes of the public.”

About A’Lelia Bundles

Author and journalist A’Lelia Bundles writes biographies about the amazing women in her family: entrepreneur Madam C. J. Walker and Harlem Renaissance icon A’Lelia Walker. She also frequently lectures at conferences, colleges, corporations and other venues about entrepreneurship, philanthropy, financial literacy and women’s and African American studies or history. She is at work on her fifth book, The Joy Goddess of Harlem: A’Lelia Walker and the Harlem Renaissance, about her great-grandmother whose parties, arts patronage and travels helped define the era.

Images 1 and 2 courtesy of Madam Walker Family Archives/A’Lelia Bundles