The only thing we love more than shouting out our favorite beauty products? Shouting out our favorite beauty products that support mental health. Especially in these times (and oh, are they times), we’re all looking for new ways to hike our moods—but not in a mindless-shopping or consumption-just-because kind of way.
According to a 2021 report from Havas Group, 64 percent of survey respondents prefer buying from brands who care about purpose along with profit, and 77 percent expect companies to support them. Gen Z, in particular, appreciates corporations that give a crap: 72 percent, per one survey, say they’re more likely to plunk down dollars for companies that contribute to social causes.
When the social cause you care about is mental health, the beautysphere is suddenly, happily, here for you. What’s not on our list? Creams that cost a month’s rent but donate, like, 2 cents to their chosen initiatives. Everything here makes a meaningful contribution to your skin, your mood, and our collective well-being.
How It Helps You: Stressors can trigger skin sensitivity and redness, especially for people with eczema and keratosis pilaris. This hydrating cream uses plant-derived squalene and Cortinhib G—an ingredient that, in the company’s clinical studies, reduced the levels of cortisol (they tested saliva), a stress hormone, as well as reinforce the skin’s barrier.
How It Helps Everyone: Selfmade calls itself “emotionally intelligent,” and we’re here for it. The AAPI-founded brand joins emotions and skin care through the principles of psychodermatology, a field of study where clinicians are both psychologists and dermatologists. Selfmade sees skin routines as purposeful and therapeutic rituals, recommending you ask the question on the bottle—What does loving myself look like in action?—as you apply the stuff inside.
When you buy something Selfmade, a percentage of sales goes toward mental health content on the brand’s site. Up next, your purchases will help fund an app that delves further into well-being and skin—and how they affect each other.
BIPOC mental health experts and a “Junior Advisory Board” of Gen Z women help with new product ideas and feedback, and the company also partners with community-based mental health leaders and nonprofits, including: Camesha Jones, LCSW, of Sista Afya in Chicago; Tiffany Wright of Coco Coalition out of Oakland; and Dr. Alfiee Breland, Ph.D., of the AAKOMA Project in Virginia.
How It Helps You: You love a bold lipstick shade, but not so much the usual side effects, like dried pigment flecks as it fades and smears on your teeth when you talk. No lipstick-xiety with this puppy! Once dry, the strong, glossy hues stay put for up to 16 hours, without photo-bombing your pearly whites. Plus, the formula is vegan. Yay, animals.
How It Helps Everyone: In 2020, Maybelline debuted its Brave Together initiative, along with a study review—in partnership with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health—that underscored just how important interpersonal relationships are to adolescent mental health. The cosmetics giant has pledged to invest $10 million in mental health organizations, and donates funds to the Crisis Health Line, where you can text TOGETHER to 741741 for free, confidential counseling.
How It Helps You: Looking on the bright side is just a little bit easier when you’re literally glowing, thanks to this biodegradable sheet mask soaked with antioxidant vitamin C, spot-fading niacinamide, and moisturizing hyaluronic acid.
How It Helps Everyone: Sundree donates 3 percent of each sale to the Mental Health Coalition, a nonprofit that brings together leading mental health orgs to help end stigma and provide resources to the BIPOC, Black, AAPI, and LGBTQIA+ communities.
How It Helps You: Philosophy calls this pumped-up version of its classic fragrance a “feel-good scent,” and we must concur. With wild strawberries, juicy raspberries, rose absolute, and sultry musk to keep it not-too-saccharine sweet, we’re feelin’ pretty darn good just typing this.
How It Helps Everyone: Let’s be honest: Way back in 2014, Philosophy was talking about mental health when few others in beauty gave a hoot. Through its Hope & Grace initiative, the brand has donated $5.8 million to community-based mental health organizations focused on women—and every Philosophy purchase keeps that support flowing.
How It Helps You: Uncontrolled acne can do a number on self-esteem, even increasing the risk of depression, anxiety, and social isolation in teens, research (and life experience) tells us. With Zylorma—a patent-pending acne-slaying complex—plus zit-fighting superhero salicylic acid, these wipes make it easy to prevent and treat breakouts, even if you can’t muster the energy to wash at the sink.
How It Helps Everyone: Raf Five donates $1 of every purchase to NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, supporting its HelpLine team of more than 60 trained volunteers. They respond to approximately 6,000 requests per month for mental health info and support.
How It Helps You: There’s nothing like blush—you know, after therapy, helpful meds, friends, partners, and cat videos—to pump you up in a jiff. This one in particular, as a Mental editor put it, “makes you look like you just finished dancing a bop on TikTok.” And the ethereal pink case is like an oyster-shell jewel, with a hefty weight in your palm and a satisfying click when you close it.
How It Helps Everyone: When she’s not solving Murders in the Building, Gomez, who has bipolar disorder, is giving us even more reasons to love her, making both gorgeous, thoughtfully named beauty products and real change in mental health. Rare Beauty has pledged to raise $100 million over the next decade to increase access to mental health services, and they donate 1 percent of all sales to the Rare Impact Fund, whose goal is expanding access to mental health services in educational settings.
How It Helps You: Though designed with teens in mind, Bubble works equally well for elder Gen Z’ers (yes, you’re now elders, too) and the rest of us grown-ups. Try putting this mineral-rich mask on in the shower: As it sloughs gunk off your skin’s surface with exfoliating azelaic acid, it soothes with vitamin E and protects with antixoxidants grapeseed oil and flower extracts. A nice metaphor for the soul, too.
How It Helps Everyone: “We think taking care of our mental health should be just as common (and accessible) as taking care of our skin,” they proclaim on their site. All. The. Claps! Bubble donates 1 percent of sales to nonprofit orgs that support young people who have mental health issues, and they’re open to your suggestions. Email them at email@example.com to name-drop an organization. They also partner with BetterHelp, an online therapy company, to provide the youngs with a discount on private counseling services.
8. Malicious Women Candle Co. Anxiety Girl, $17.50
How It Helps You: Infused with the scent of “Impending Doom” (lavender and coconut water, natch), this 100 percent soy candle is a tongue-in-cheek reminder to release some of life’s never-ending BS.
How It Helps Everyone: Friends Lacie Marsh-Carroll and Laura Caudle used to joke about how they could have responded differently in sucky situations “if only we were a little more malicious.” When Caudle died by suicide after battling depression, Marsh-Carroll entered therapy, where her therapist suggested she take up a hobby. She made a candle to honor Caudle, and thus sparked Malicious Women. The company donates a portion of sales to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
How It Helps You: One of the first over-the-counter “microdermabrasion” exfoliants, this creamy scrub has as many accolades as Beyoncé. It’s been reformulated with natural, biodegradable ingredients—like biocellulose crystals made from renewable wood pulp, alpha hydroxy acids, and vegan lactic acid—but still buffs away dead cells like a champ. The result? A lovely little skin gleam and, hopefully, a little-brighter mood, too.
How It Helps Everyone: Dr. Fredric Brandt, M.D., was a famous dermatologist, beloved for his ability to inject fillers in the most undetectable way while singing as he worked. After he died by suicide in 2015, the brand created the Dr. Brandt Foundation, which donates $1 from every purchase of this cult-favorite scrub to mental health programs. The Foundation also hosts a #SayILoveYou speaker series, featuring prominent artists, athletes, and cultural arbiters—on topics such as body image, and race and mental health—to help end stigma.