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Give n’ Glow, nonprofit established by a Northeastern student, provides disadvantaged women with donated beauty products

Samantha Asprelli, a rising third-year student, solicits makeup from influencers and brand partners such as Glossier, Physicians Formula, Skinfix, Flyte.70 and First Aid Beauty.

Someone doing makeup on someone else.
Samantha Asprelli, founder of Give n’ Glow, applies makeup to a woman’s face at a pop-up event. Courtesy photo

Samantha Asprelli loves makeup.

“I just know when I do have makeup on,” she says. “I feel more confident in myself.”

Asprelli is a rising third-year Northeastern University student studying social innovation and entrepreneurship and brand management at the D’Amore-McKim School of Business.

She also likes to make people smile and help them forget their worries — even for a moment.

Asprelli’s nonprofit, Give n’ Glow, does exactly that — empowers disadvantaged women to see past their circumstances and recognize their worth and beauty by providing them with new and gently used donated beauty products.

Headshot of Samantha Asprellie.
Samantha Asprelli believes that access to beauty products can be a catalyst for self-confidence, empowerment and personal growth. Courtesy photo

“It’s incredible seeing these women walk away, not only with a smile on their face, but with products in hand that they knew they couldn’t afford otherwise,” Asprelli says.

Give n’ Glow accepts makeup from influencers who test makeup for online reviews and don’t need it afterward; and brand partners such as Glossier, Physicians Formula, Skinfix, Flyte.70 and First Aid Beauty that want to see their unsold inventory used before it expires.

Asprelli started her service journey in the eighth grade with Project 351, a Massachusetts organization that empowers youth to create positive change in their community.

She launched Give n’ Glow last August by collecting extra makeup that her friends had bought for prom and were never going to use again. Her first pilot event was at a food pantry in her hometown of Wrentham, Massachusetts. 

It was a huge success, she says.

“That’s when I realized that we could start asking other donors for their makeup to give away,” Asprelli says.

She believes that all women should have access to beauty-care products — like they do to food, clothing and shelter. 

Asprelli’s nonprofit does pop-up shops, makeovers and workshops at food pantries and homeless shelters, where women are taught how to apply makeup and use beauty products.

“It’s usually very simple — blush, mascara, some nice skincare to start — and it just kind of gives them a hands-on experience that they’re really not getting elsewhere,” she says.

Asprelli and Give n’ Glow were recently recognized as the winner in the undergraduate student category of Northeastern’s 2024 Women Who Empower Innovator Awards.

“Women Who Empower resonates with who I am as a person,” she says.

Although Give n’ Glow primarily serves women, Asprelli says, it also helps men looking for products such as soap, sunscreen or moisturizers.

Makeup is not a priority for shelters or food pantries, she says, because it’s not considered essential. Her organization is filling that gap.

“I know that there are greater needs of housing, food and clothing, but we like to say that we stand on the shoulders of those organizations that serve basic needs of survival, and we just enhance what they’re doing,” Asprelli says. 

She believes a makeover or self-care can have therapeutic effects.

“I think a lot of us can understand that when we have our favorite outfit on, when we have jewelry that we love — maybe it’s a new pair of earrings — when we just have mascara on, there’s something different that we feel about ourselves,” she says. “Having women who need that confidence experience that it’s just a whole other level of a boost of self-esteem that they need.”

Asprelli relies on volunteers to help with Give n’ Glow’s research, outreach, social media and content creation, while she does most of “the physical labor” that includes picking up packages and taking inventory of the donated products.

She has converted an extra room at her parents’ house into a mini warehouse where everything is categorized — skincare, haircare, feminine hygiene, cosmetics, nail polish and so on.

An aerial view of dozens of beauty products lay flat on a white surface.
Give n’ Glow takes only in-kind donations from independent donors who have a stockpile of makeup; influencers who test makeup for their online reviews and often don’t need it afterwards; and beauty brand partners who might be looking to put to good use their unsold inventory before it expires.
Courtesy photo

The manufactured and expiration dates of each product is cataloged, Asprelli says, while bottled or canned products are inspected to make sure they have at least 75% remaining. Pressed blush, eye shadows and bronzer are sanitized using professional-grade cosmetic sanitation spray. 

Products that have an applicator and touch the skin — like lip gloss, concealer and mascara — must be new, Asprelli says.

The work she does for Give n’ Glow allows her to look beyond the common stereotypes associated with the unhoused population.

“I am now part of helping that community,” Asprelli says. “Now I pay attention to the people who are sitting down with a cardboard sign on the sidewalks, and I make sure that I am serving them to the best of my abilities.”

She hopes to expand Give n’ Glow and ignite change in the beauty industry.

“If we are consuming more than we should, let’s give it back,” she says. “Let’s redirect these secondhand beauty products into the hands of women who need it, who can truly benefit from it, rather than us just using it once and never again.”