It’s easy to take for granted everyday essentials. Toothpaste, shower gel, soap and tampons are all items that we stock up immediately once we’ve run out, or make sure to always have a spare. But what happens when the idea of a blissful warm shower becomes a luxury and you have to choose between being clean and eating? We often don’t think of toiletries as luxuries as they’re so ingrained in our daily routine, but if you had to live without them for a little bit you would more than notice.

This is where Beauty banks come in. Like food banks, they were set up as non- profit organisations to help those in poverty in the UK. Beauty banks were an initiative established by journalist Sali Hughes and friend Jo Jones after the pair discovered the extent of hygiene poverty in the U.K. The pair hope to encourage people to donate toiletries to Beauty Banks, and push the movement even further with the help of those in the beauty industry.

After hearing stories from friends working as teachers who had to bring in extra sanitary supplies for girls in their classes, and Hughes having experienced homelessness herself as a teenager, the pair started researching the issue of hygiene poverty in the UK. A report by Kind Direct found that 37 percent of people in the UK have had to cut down on toiletries or even go without due to simply not being able to afford them. The charity distributed £2.2 million worth of toiletries last year, a rise of 67 percent from 2016.

It’s a harsh reality to live in a world where people are having to choose between eating and looking after their personal hygiene, and it’s something that’s often forgotten about when the issue of food banks and poverty is spoken about in the UK. We are often shown pictures of stacked tins and pasta, but rarely do we consider the implications of those living in poverty not able to access basic toiletries and hygiene products.

Everyone should have the right to feel clean and be able to look after their bodies.

So how can we help?

Many of us have unwanted toiletries, whether that be from sets at Christmas, or maybe accidentally buying too much of something and then preferring a different brand. Hughes says: “you can help by collected anything new and useful, from babies toothbrushes to men’s shaving gel, from soap to roll-on. When you’ve gathered together enough for a parcel and removed any restricted solvents, pack it all into a box and kindly write ‘Beauty Banks’ on every side, then post it to:

Beauty Banks c/o Jo Jones The Communications Store 2 Kensington Square London W8 5EP

It doesn’t take much to help improve someone’s life and a little can go a really long way.