When Selena Gomez launched Rare Beauty back in 2020, the message was simple: break down previous notions that everyone must be perfect, and shine a light on mental health issues.
While this may have broken every budding makeup brand’s dream, brands like Fenty Beauty shared similar, groundbreaking mission statements: bolster inclusivity in the makeup industry and force all brands to do the same in the process.
Inspired by her 2020 album, Rare, Rare Beauty began with the basics: 48 foundation shades, lip balms and matte lip creams, eyebrow definers, and the icon, liquid blush. Four years later, it’s hard to imagine a more viral, innovative celebrity makeup brand that remains in stride with Fenty.
Quickly, the Rare Beauty Soft Pinch Liquid Blush became TikTok’s go-to staple product. And no one can deny there is no blush on the market that is as pigmented, easily blendable, and long-lasting as this one. Selena Gomez has proven herself a bonafide content creator with her charismatic social media posts for fun Rare Beauty launches like an under-eye brightener, an SPF-laden tinted moisturizer, and lip combos.
Not only is Rare Beauty inclusive in shade range, but the spherical shape of the top of their products is disability-friendly.
As of 2024, Rare Beauty is a $2 billion company. But what sets this company apart is their attention to detail and true dedication to bettering the world. The same year that Rare Beauty was founded, the Rare Impact Fund was also created.
What Is The Rare Impact Fund?
In a statement by Gomez on the Rare Impact Fund’s website, she states,
“The Rare Impact Fund is committed to expanding access to mental health services and education for young people everywhere. We work with a strong network of supporters and experts to bring mental health resources into educational settings to reach young people.
Because no one– regardless of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, or background - should struggle alone.”
Upon their start, the Rare Impact Fund committed to raising $100 million by 2030. Along with corporate sponsorships and donations from individuals, 1% of proceeds from all Rare Beauty sales go towards the charity as well. By 2021, they had donated over $1.2 million in grants to eight mental health institutions including Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence.
In 2021, the Rare Impact Fund launched a GoFundMe for their new Mental Health 101 initiative. According to the GoFundMe,
“Mental Health 101 advocates for more mental health in education, empowers our community, and encourages financial support for more mental health services in educational settings through the Rare Impact Fund,”
Promising to match up to $200,000 in donations, to date the GoFundMe has raised over $500,000 and has donations from less than six months ago.
How The Rare Impact Fund Works
By leveraging both Selena Gomez’s millions of social media followers and the four million people who follow Rare Beauty on Instagram, the Rare Impact Fund quickly trickles into visibility. Suddenly, fans of the brand and Gomez alike can help make a difference by donating even a few dollars in honor of their favorite actress-singer extraordinaire.
As of 2023, the Rare Impact Fund helped grantees like UCLA Friends of Semel Institute, Batyr, La Familia, Mindful Life Project, Black Teacher Project, and Trans Lifeline. According to the website, they have raised $6 million in contributions and distributed $3 million in grant support so far.
Rare Beauty and the Rare Impact Fund alone are blazing a trail for all brands: you can make a change while still distributing high-quality products — and it pays off.
Vaping Crisis Showing No Signs of Stopping
The CDC has reported over 2,600 serious lung injuries related to vaping.
In case you've been living under a rock, there has been a vaping crisis sweeping the nation. Vaping has been under much scrutiny, especially after the US Surgeon General declared it an epidemic in December 2018 (prior to the current pandemic rightfully distracting us).
Originally, the fight against vaping was due to defective batteries that could explode. Although a rare occurrence, there were numerous deaths reported. There were also reports of some consumers experiencing seizures. Now, the CDC has reported over 2,600 serious lung injuries related to vaping– including vapes for both tobacco and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). That number has increased by as much as 200 in just two weeks, adding to the scare. To make matters worse, little is known about what is causing these injuries.
With the outbreak showing no signs of slowing down, the federal and state governments are doing what they can to limit the damage. The CDC and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have issued clear warnings to consumers against using any vaping device, THC, tobacco, or neither. Some states, including Massachusetts, Oregon, and Washington, have placed temporary bans of some sort on vaping products in an attempt to avoid more injury cases.
What Do We Know?
In a March announcement by the CDC, we learned that a majority of the injuries were suffered by younger victims aged under 35 years old – 80% of the cases to be exact. 15% of the cases involved those under the age of 18. Of all the cases, the CDC has reported 26 deaths across 21 states. Those states include Indiana, Kansas (2), Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Alabama, California (3), Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia (2), Illinois, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Oregon (2), Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia.
A majority of the deaths were reported in older victims with an average age of 49 years old. The CDC continues to investigate more deaths. Although test results have come back mixed for the most part, it was found that 76% of the victims reported using products containing THC. In comparison, 58% of the victims reported using both THC and tobacco products, while only 13% used only tobacco products.
A lot of the confusion stems from the fact that it's happening in all vapes, just more frequently in THC products. Scientists are also having difficulty finding any one substance in all the samples. Mixed results and inconsistencies are causing several obstacles for the FDA in its investigation.
Is Cannabis Still Safe?
Vaporizers are considered to be the safest method of smoking, as they leave zero chance of producing combustive smoke and also allows you to avoid the health risks associated with smoking. The same goes for e-cigarettes, with these being around for even longer. When taking all of these factors into consideration, it's no wonder that people everywhere, every day are making the switch from combustibles to vaping.
For those who are nervous that this could be the downfall of cannabis, think again. The many health benefits that the plant provides is backed by powerful scientific research and is in no way under doubt during this investigation. These health benefits include, but aren't limited to:
- Providing relief from chronic pain
- Improving lung capacity
- Regulating seizures
- Helping with ADHD
- Managing stress, anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders
As of now, the FDA is more focused on certain ingredients and additives in the oil solution that might be causing these lung injuries. They fear that it's not the THC, but the additives that our bodies are not reacting positively to.
Searching For a Possible Cause
In their research, the FDA has uncovered several potential causes that have been linked to the outbreak of lung injuries in vape consumers. A major concern is in vaping products bought off the streets. With no way of regulating this, the possibilities are endless as far as what could be in that product.
One box of counterfeit products found in the US was said to contain a pesticide that turned into cyanide when heated. This is definitely something that shouldn't be inhaled into our lungs. Some reports suggest that it's not just the chemicals in the liquids and oils that cause concern, but the device itself could contain harmful chemicals. There were also reports of some counterfeit products being made with butane honey oil (BHO), which is known as the most dangerous way of extracting cannabis.
Through analyzing a wide variety of vape samples containing THC, the FDA has been trying to find similar substances in all of them that could be causing the injuries. Unfortunately, they haven't found one substance that appeared in all of the samples. This is causing the FDA to suggest that there are multiple reasons consumers could be experiencing these lung issues. One substance that has been found in nearly half of the samples is vitamin E acetate.
Used to cheaply thin the THC oil in the vape cartridges, this chemical is the oil derived from vitamin E. Despite it being safe for consumption as a supplement or a topical, there are growing concerns about the effects when inhaled. In addition to the vitamin E acetate, the FDA has found numerous other chemicals including metals, cutting agents, pesticides, among others.
What Can You Do to Protect Yourself?
With so much unknown in this investigation, the worst thing we can do is make it definitive and assume that vaping is dangerous.
In the meantime, it's important to remain on the lookout for more information from the CDC, FDA, and local organizations. The good news is, there are plenty of other ways to consume cannabis without ever touching a vaping product. If you're looking for something to inhale, flower is always a good choice. For those that aren't a fan of flower, edibles are an easy and fun alternative. Even certain topicals will give you the benefits of cannabidiol (CBD) if you're trying to avoid THC all together. Either way, there are safer ways of enjoying cannabis. If vape products are the preferred choice, only purchase from a trusted and regulated source. Ask the retailer for more info on what ingredients were used in making the product – both the oils and devices. It is also suggested to heat your vape at the lowest temperature possible.
Just because current law is murky, doesn't mean consumers can't continue to enjoy ourselves in the realm of cannabis -- all is good in moderation and well-conducted research.