“No Make-up Selfies” Fund Ten Clinical Trials #nomakeupselfie


Kim Novak’s appearance at the Oscars wearing no make up has led to a craze that’s raised more than $12 million for a cancer charity — and caused some confusion with polar bears.

Novak’s appearance sparked some media criticism from folk who seemed confused that an 81-year-old without makeup looked different to how she once appeared as a matinee idol. That led to a lashback of women posting self-portrait photographs of themselves without wearing makeup.

18-year-old Fiona Cunningham of Stoke-in-Trent in the United Kingdom started a Facebook webpage last week in which she encouraged friends to post their own #nomakeupselfie and donate £3 (US$5) to Cancer Research UK via a text message donation service.

The idea quickly went viral, helped partly by some users posting a picture and then nominating two friends to do the same, a recent take on the controversial “neknominate” craze involving unusual alcohol consumption. Although Cancer Research UK did not have any involvement in setting up the campaign, it gratefully endorsed and publicized it (see picture above.)

At first the #nomakeupselfie trend earned some criticism with naysayers questioning the links between makeup and cancer, or highlighting those users who posted a picture without any mention of the charitable element. However, at last count Cancer Research UK had received £8 million (US$12.8 million) which it says will fund 10 clinical trials:

Clinical trials run over many years and can involve hundreds of patients. The costs include paying to run the trial and collect data from patients, as well as analysing it to see if the new treatment works. The costs per year can range from around £30,000 per year to £100,000 depending on the particular study and the longer a trial runs, the higher the costs.  The money raised from the selfies will support these 10 trials over their entire duration. The shortest of the trials is two years while the longest is 10, and in total it all adds up to more than 50 years of research time.

The craze also had some spinoffs from people who spotted the obvious limitation on potential participants: some men have instead posted pics of themselves wearing makeup, and there’s been a less family-friendly trend involving people wearing socks and mittens in unconventional ways.

There have been some hitches. To donate, British users can send the SMS text message “BEAT” to 70099. However, that number is shared among several charities using keywords to identify donations and people who mistakenly texted “DONATE” have instead sent their money to Unicef. The two charities are now working together on the issue and Unicef will be transferring the mistaken donations to Cancer Research.

More entertainingly, the World Wildlife Fund has received an unusually high number of enquiries about adopting polar bears. It turns out some of those donating to the cancer appeal had, either through typos or over-enthusiastic auto-correct, texted “BEAR” rather than “BEAT”. In this case, no money went to the WWF as it only uses this service to send out details to potential adoptees.

People outside the UK can donate to Cancer Research UK through its website.

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