How a ‘No Makeup Selfie’ Trend Suddenly Became a Cancer Awareness Effort

Viral posts evolve organically

In an age when social media has made us even more aware of how we look at any given moment ("A picture? Now? Wait, how's my hair?"), asking women to take photos of themselves without makeup and upload them to social channels seems risky. And yet, thousands are doing it in the U.K. in the name of cancer awareness.

A "No makeup selfie" campaign grew organically in Britain in recent weeks, and ended up raising several million pounds for Cancer Research U.K., even though the group initially had nothing to do with the effort.

Author Laura Lippman apparently started the trend to support actress Kim Novak, whose looks were criticized at the Oscars. Others picked up on the idea, and somehow the hashtag #breastcancerawareness and donation links to Cancer Research U.K. started getting added to the selfies. "It's brilliant it's raising so much money. It's totally unexpected because it wasn't something we planned," a rep for the group tells Britain's Telegraph newspaper.

Because most interesting ideas need a fun spinoff, the hashtag #manupandmakeup also started trending, as men put on makeup to raise money for Prostate Cancer U.K.