NEW YORK — The cosmetics industry doesn’t just want to make breast cancer survivors look better — it is also determined to fund the grassroots research that one day could eliminate the disease altogether.

And beauty execs are definitely putting their money where their mouths are: To date, beauty firms involved in the effort have raised more than $400 million for the cause during the past 15 years.

“This kind of effort is a great credit to our industry,” said Irene Malbin, vice president of public affairs for the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association, referring to October’s Breast Cancer Awareness month and the fund-raising efforts that are undertaken each year. “The cosmetic industry is in a unique position to reach women, and they are helping women and their families not only in terms of awareness, but in terms of research.”

In 1993, Evelyn Lauder, senior corporate vice president of the Estée Lauder Cos., founded the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. The organization, which has raised nearly $100 million thus far to support the cause, is funded in a variety of ways — including by selling beauty items produced by the Lauder divisions. This year, several fashion heavyweights are donating percentages of selected products to the BCRF, including Coach, Cartier, Jimmy Choo and Wolford. As reported, Lauder is also putting the world in the pink throughout the month of October by lighting up a slew of international monuments in the international breast cancer color.

Revlon is also a strong supporter of research and has set up its own breast cancer research center, the Revlon/UCLA Women’s Cancer Research Program. The center was responsible for the work that led to the conception of Herceptin, the first nontoxic targeted therapy to fight against women’s cancers. Revlon also hosts one of the nation’s largest 5K events, the Revlon Run/Walk for Women, twice a year in New York and L.A.

The Avon Foundation and its breast cancer program, the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade, established in 1992, have recently joined in partnership with the National Cancer Institute for the Avon-NCI Progress for Patients program. The program will provide $20 million in grants to researchers whom NCI will help Avon to select. In a separate venture Avon gave $4 million in a partnership with the American College of Radiology Imaging for a clinical trial to compare the effectiveness of traditional mammogram with ultrasound technology in early detection.

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