Selena Gomez Has Rewritten the Script for Beauty Start-Ups

With Rare Beauty, Selena Gomez added entrepreneur to her pop-star-producer-actor résumé. In the process, she's created impact far beyond the brand's blushes and balms.

Selena Gomez is a member of The A List, which honors individuals who are driving and shaping the future of beauty.

There are brands that give back — and then there are brands that are created with a specific philanthropic mission at their core. There aren’t many in that second group and even fewer are driven by a global superstar. But when Selena Gomez founded Rare Beauty in 2020, she was passionate about it bringing the world more than silky lip colors and cushiony blushes (though she certainly does that well). “I have bipolar [disorder] and I’m not afraid to say that’s something I deal with. That’s something that I live with,” she told us on a recent call. “I’m gonna take [my experience] and create a space for other girls and boys — whoever they identify as — [so] they don’t go through what I’ve gone through.”

A headshot of Selena Gomez founder of Rare Beauty wearing a denim jacket.
Micaiah Carter

Founded alongside Gomez’s makeup brand was her nonprofit, the Rare Impact Fund. Rare Beauty donates 1 percent of all sales (yes, that’s gross, not net) to the fund, which is dedicated to breaking mental health stigmas and providing communities with resources.

In its first year, the Rare Impact Fund gave $1.2 million in grants to eight mental health and education-focused organizations, including the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services. These groups provide services such as suicide prevention training and mentoring programs. “Helping young people gain access to mental health resources is exactly why we created the [fund],” says Gomez. And this is just the beginning of a $100 million commitment over the next 10 years. “It’s ambitious, but with the help of incredible partners — corporations, philanthropists, and our own community — we know we can make it happen,” says Elyse Cohen, vice president of social impact and inclusion at Rare Beauty. “In just over one year, we’ve seen the tremendous enthusiasm and support needed to reach this goal.”

A large part of Gomez’s fan base is Gen Z and over 40 percent of that population has experienced increased mental health struggles during the pandemic, according to a survey by the American Psychological Association. As difficult as this time has been, “an interesting silver lining is that [the pandemic] gave people permission to finally talk about mental health,” says Cohen. Gomez, who bravely opened up several years ago about her own mental health, is there to help lead the conversation, with equal parts conviction and compassion. In addition to monetary contributions, the Rare Impact Fund is committed to creating community events that open the door for honest discussions. “I’ve been able to join a couple [virtually] and what’s so beautiful is that people are so open, and strangers are expressing how they feel,” says Gomez.

While Gomez has become a powerful voice in the historically silenced world of mental illness, she often finds that the most meaningful support doesn’t involve uttering a word. “When I’m talking to someone who’s struggling, the first thing I do is just listen. That’s all I want — to be heard,” she says.

Listening to Gomez, one thing is especially clear: She has a vision for what the future of philanthropy in the beauty industry can look like.

“I don’t want to be someone that people look up to because I wear pretty dresses and I like to sing,” she says. “I want to be remembered as someone who cares. I care a lot — and that’s what I want to do with my platform.”

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