Courtesy of MAC Cosmetics


How MAC Cosmetics' Viva Glam Helped Pave the Way for Inclusive Beauty Culture

In recent years, we’ve watched beauty culture slowly become more and more inclusive, with big-name makeup brands finally expanding their shade ranges (amen to that), and skin-care companies showcasing photos of what real skin looks like in all of its flawed glory, sans the filters and airbrushing that we’ve become so accustomed to. With that being said, it’s impossible to talk about the progress we’ve made without mentioning MAC Cosmetics, as they’re one of the first major brands to champion inclusivity, diversity, and equality across the board. In turn, our friends at MAC helped pave the way for the more inclusive beauty landscape that we live in today.

Aside from its extensive shade ranges, one of the main ways MAC became a pioneer for inclusivity in the beauty industry is through its iconic Viva Glam program, which the brand started in 1994 with a single red lipstick designed to raise awareness and funds for those living with and affected by HIV and AIDS. To this day, 100 percent of the selling price from MAC’s Viva Glam Lipsticks goes to organizations supporting people and communities in need. In recent years, they expanded their mission to not only be about ending HIV and AIDS, but also advancing equal rights and healthy futures of women, girls, and members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Through their efforts, MAC has managed to raise more than $500 million (and counting) globally for those in need, with funds supporting HIV and AIDS treatment and prevention, LGBTQIA+ and gender equality, and the reproductive health of women, girls, and queer folks everywhere.

Of course, it’s definitely worth noting that MAC’s efforts go well-beyond just monetary donations through the Viva Glam Fund — the program has had a real human-level impact as well. For instance, the brand directly partners with a variety of non-profit organizations, like the Hetrick-Martin Institute (HMI), which is the nation’s oldest and biggest org for LGBTQIA+ youth, to help them provide a safe environment for folks ages 13 to 24. (FYI, 100 percent of proceeds from MAC’s Underground Pride liner will go to HMI this year.)

Courtesy of MAC Cosmetics

Additionally, the brand supports Grassroot Soccer’s sexual and reproductive health and rights program, SKILLZ Girl, which aids in building important life skills for young women who are living in vulnerable communities in Africa. The curriculum covers everything from reproductive health and HIV prevention, to basic life skills. A final example is MAC’s longtime support for IDEA Exchange, which is a free and completely legal clinic that provides clean needles to help prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS. The Viva Glam Fund has backed the organization since 2016 and continues to help them drive their mission forward.

Courtesy of MAC Cosmetics

The brand’s inclusivity efforts don’t stop there. On top of its charitable contributions, the MAC Viva Glam campaign has a long legacy of representing and celebrating diversity in all its forms throughout the years. In fact, when they launched Viva Glam in ‘94, they teamed up with none other than RuPaul as a spokesmodel — and that was way before drag culture became mainstream. Additionally, they’ve worked with everyone from Ricky Martin, Troye Sivan, and drag queen Aquaria, to Mary J. Blige, Miley Cyrus, Winnie Harlow, and most recently, Grammy award-winning artist, Rosalía, who served as the face of the Viva Glam ‘26 campaign last year.

Speaking of last year: Amid the global pandemic, MAC worked alongside Rosalía to support people around the world who were on the frontlines to ensure they received the education and help they needed in order to live healthy lives. As if that wasn’t enough, the brand also donated $10 million from its Viva Glam fund in support of COVID-19 relief efforts, with a focus on helping people who were at higher risk.

For context, the purchase of one $19 Viva Glam lipstick can provide the following: one rapid oral HIV test, one pair of school shoes for a child orphaned by AIDS, one week of fresh groceries for a mother and child affected by HIV, 254 condoms to prevent HIV transmission, eight meals for homeless LGBTQAI+ youth, and 32 safer sex kits, which includes condoms, lubricant, and instructions. Needless to say, MAC’s Viva Glam campaign has helped improve the lives of myriad people around the world — that, and it’s really helped to raise awareness and curb the stigma that comes with HIV and AIDS, too.

From the Viva Glam line, you have three lipsticks to choose from: Viva Glam I, an intense matte blue-red; Viva Glam II, a creamy satin nude; and Viva Glam III, a matte plum with brown undertones. Each lipstick retails for $19, and to recap, every cent goes to charity.

Cheers to MAC for being one of the first huge beauty brands to help set the stage for the more inclusive beauty culture that we know today — and for always giving back, which says so much about a brand’s identity.