Avon reveals 1 in 6 UK women have had a partner control their make-up

By Julia Wray | Published: 22-Nov-2023

The brand’s ‘Reverse Makeup Tutorial’ video is based on real experiences and was created with anti-domestic violence charity No More

Avon has released ‘Reverse Makeup Tutorial’, a video created alongside anti-domestic violence charity No More to shine a light on controlling behaviour using make-up as a tool for manipulation. 

New research from the beauty company reveals one in six women have had a partner control whether or not they wear make-up, while 11% of women have had a partner influence if they wear make-up. 

Launched to coincide with the United Nations’ 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence, the research reflects the experience of 1,035 British women.

Avon’s findings also show that the youngest age group surveyed, 18 to 24-year-olds, reported the highest incidences (22%) of partners controlling how much make-up they wore. 

Nearly one in six of all women who have had a partner control or influence their make-up have also used make-up to hide an injury inflicted by their partner.

More than one in five have witnessed a friend having their appearance influenced or controlled by a partner, with the highest incidence again amongst the youngest women (40%). 

Of all the women who had witnessed such a thing, 27% said they didn’t say anything or take action because they did not think it was their place and 21% because they were unsure of what to say. 

Avon and No More’s video zeroes in on controlling and abusive behaviour designed to destroy a woman’s self-esteem via appearance and make-up; behaviour which the companies said is often part of or a precursor to physical violence. 

The words in the video are based on real experiences of those who’ve experienced domestic violence and signposts to where victims, friends and families can go to seek help.

“Everyone should have the right and freedom to choose how they want to style themselves and whether they want their partner to be part of those decisions,” commented Avon CEO Angela Cretu of the video.

“Make-up should be fun and empowering, a form of self-expression, style and confidence.”

The CEO of No More, Pamela Zaballa, said: “Addressing gender-based violence requires bold, innovative approaches. 

“With the 'Reverse Makeup Tutorial’, we are grateful to Avon for revealing the harrowing reality many women face every day. 

“This video, rooted in the authentic experiences of domestic violence survivors, not only raises awareness but also guides those affected toward avenues of support.”

Cretu added that Avon’s website features a list of organisations who can help women and girls impacted by emotional, verbal or physical abuse. 

Beauty’s anti-violence campaigns

Avon’s video is the latest in a series of initiatives from cosmetic companies educating around domestic and/or partner violence. 

This month, L’Oréal Group’s YSL Beauty announced a nine-piece social media series called ‘Mistaken For Love’ – part of its wider ‘Abuse Is Not Love’ global programme – to highlight the key warning signs associated with intimate partner violence. 

These include humiliation, manipulation, jealousy, control, intrusion, isolation, intimidation, blackmailing and ignoring. 

UK retailer Superdrug, meanwhile, teamed up with Love Island star Georgia Harrison on a sexual consent initiative, called ‘You Before Yes’, to provide education and support to improve people's understanding of consent.

And last year, Dermalogica partnered with Shear Haven in the UK and Ireland – an initiative that provides domestic violence education to beauty professionals and salons.

The skin care brand’s aim was to increase the number of its therapists able to spot the signs of domestic abuse and provide at-risk clients with the tools to get them to safety.

Conversely, other beauty players have been accused of minimising or even glamorising violence against women. 

Earlier this year, the SS24 London Fashion Week show for designer Mowalola Ogunlesi, featuring make-up looks from MUA Isamaya Ffrench which were inspired by car crash victims, received criticism from campaigners. 

At the time, human rights activist Aisha Ali-Khan posted on social media platform X: “Giving supermodels a fake black eye is absolutely reprehensible. 

“What an insult to victims of #domesticviolence seeing injuries like this glamorised for public consumption.” 

Another miss-step which angered anti-domestic violence advocates came in 2016 when Moroccan state TV marked the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women with a make-up lesson in applying concealer to facial bruises.

The channel, 2M, later apologised for its “error of judgement” following a backlash.

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