How beauty banks are fighting hygiene poverty

A food-bank style enterprise set up to fight hygiene poverty has been overwhelmed by the effort to help the rising number of people forced to go without everyday essentials like toothpaste, shampoo and deodorant.

Tens of thousands of health and hygiene products have been donated by public to the Beauty Banks scheme, which distributes them to more than 125 charities around the country, since it was set up last year.

Jo Jones co-founded the social enterprise after learning a shocking 37% of people in Britain go without hygiene or grooming essentials each day.

Jo Jones said she hopes the enterprise can help bring hygiene and period poverty to an end. Credit: ITV News

"If you have to choose between feeding your family or having soap, shower gel and sanitary towels you're obviously going to choose food," she told ITV News.

"We want to be part of a solution for hygiene poverty and period poverty."

PR-worker Jo and co-founder Sali Hughes, a journalist, both work in industries where they are surrounded by beauty products so decided to use their contacts to help the cause.

The dramatic public response means Jo's office in London has now become a hub for countless boxes and bags of donated items.

The public donations have far exceeded the scheme's expectations. Credit: ITV News

Beauty Banks focuses on collecting basic toiletries like toothpaste and shower gel, but also welcomes otherwise-unattainable luxuries like makeup, which the women say helps to lift self-esteem.

"A lipstick or ... a nice moisturiser can be a lifetime away for what people can afford," Jo explained.

"So it's just a nice treat and a nice confidence boost."

Sandra, a refugee from the Congo, is one of the beneficiaries of the initiative and appreciates the donations.

Sandra, who can't afford to shop for High Street products, is among the beneficiaries. Credit: ITV News

"I'm a human being, I'm normal like everyone (but) because of my situation, I can't go to Superdrug or to Boots to buy it," she told ITV News.

"But if someone can donate (everyday products), I can have it - it makes me feel happy, I can look good and smart."

Amy Williams from The Jesus Centre is among the charity workers around the country who receive the items to give to the needy.

She told ITV News the enterprise has filled a clear gap for items not covered by food banks.

Charity worker Amy Williams is full of praise for the scheme. Credit: ITV News

"We didn't really struggle sourcing food donations in the same way, but it was really difficult finding anywhere that would donate toiletries to us, so until Beauty Banks came along, there weren't many options for us."

Jo hopes the project will inspire people to collect for their own banks around the country in the short term.

But in the long term, she hopes the collective effort will eventually become redundant.

The Beauty Banks enterprise's ultimate goal is to not exist. Credit: ITV News

"As well as putting a bandage over this problem we want to be part of the solution," she said.

"Our ultimate goal is that beauty banks doesn't exist and it's not needed anymore.

"We know we're not going to change the world but we might change the world for one person and you know that's what drives us."

Donations of unused products can be sent to:


Alternatively purchases made on the Beauty Banks wish list on Easho will be sent directly to them, without postage costs.