This week, thousands of women helped raise more than £2m for Cancer Research UK by posing for a photograph without their makeup. Lizzie Anderson reports on the latest social media craze.

Anyone who has logged onto Facebook or Twitter over the last few days will be aware of the ‘no makeup selfie’ trend that has taken social media by storm. Our newsfeeds have been invaded by photographs of fresh-faced women of all ages and background smiling proudly at the camera without even a hint of blusher.

The aim is to raise money and awareness for Cancer Research UK, with women donating cash to the charity after posting their snaps with the hastag #nomakeupselfieforcancer.

Since Tuesday (March 18), more than 800,000 people have donated to the charity via text message and thousands more have supported the campaign via online fundraising pages. Cancer Research UK is obviously thrilled for this unexpected rush of donations and the widespread media interest.

Meanwhile, many of those taking part have received a confidence boost from the positive comments their bare-faced photos have attracted. Celebrities, including Coronation Street actress Kym Marsh and Liberty X singer Michele Heaton, have also joined in and many men have turned the craze on its head by posting shots of themselves wearing makeup.

Natalie-May Bradshaw and Daryl Mcgarrigle, from Newton Aycliffe in County Durham, were among the first to post their bare-faced photographs on Tuesday afternoon. Miss Mcgarrigle was inspired by a selfie of TV presenter Holly Willoughby and promptly posted her own photograph, with a caption to raise awareness of cancer. The 19-year-old also nominated several friends, including Miss Bradshaw, 23, who suggested taking things one step further by setting up a JustGiving page to raise cash for Cancer Research UK. Within an hour, more than £100 pounds had been pledged and, at the time of going to press, the total was almost £4,000.

Miss Bradshaw, a student nurse, says: “It is amazing. We are a bit overwhelmed to be honest. I have done fundraising events before and never raised anywhere near as much money as this.

“I have been contacted by people from Canada and Australia who have donated. It is brilliant that something so simple and easy can raise so much money for such a worthwhile cause.”

Miss Mcgarrigle adds: “We have set ourselves a target of £10,000 so we are urging more people to join in.”

The ‘no makeup selfie’ is a born out of the wider ‘selfie ‘phenomenon, which can be attributed to the growing popularity of social media and smartphones. Last November, the Oxford Dictionaries named ‘selfie’ its word of the year after research revealed its usage had increased by 17,000 per cent in just 12 months.

The official definition is: a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.

According to the research, conducted by Oxford Dictionaries editors, the word was first used in a post on an Australian online forum in 2002.

Critics have labelled the trend narcissistic but selfie-fans see it as harmless fun and another facet of our desire to document our lives through social media.

Nicki Embleton, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for the North East, says: “The #nomakeupselfie Twitter trend isn’t something Cancer Research UK started – but it’s great to see so many people getting involved to help raise awareness of cancer amongst their friends and family.

“After posting a message and picture on the Cancer Research UK Facebook and Twitter pages on Wednesday morning, with information about how to support the charity, we’ve also received almost 800,000 text donations and raised over £1m, a huge increase in volume of what we usually see over this time.

“We’ve seen hundreds of thousands get involved on the Cancer Research UK Facebook and Twitter pages, showing their support too.”

Across the North-East, around 40 people a day are diagnosed with cancer. To support the charity’s work, visit or donate £3 by texting BEAT to 70099.

Women can also sign up for their nearest Race for Life event at

To help Miss Mcgarrigle and Miss Bradshaw reach their £10,000 target visit