selfies
#nomakeupselfies from (left to right) @ChrisEdFund, @CoppaFeelPeople and @bunnyflickTwitter
Laura Lippman
Bare faced: Laura LippmanTwitter/Laura Lippman

For the last 24 hours, there has been an influx of selfies" on Facebook feeds across the UK, accompanied by the hashtag #nomakeupselfie.

The campaign, which has gone viral since it was launched on Tuesday, asks women to post fresh-faced photographs of themselves on social media to raise awareness of cancer. Its beginning seem to have been inspired by actress Kim Novak's now infamous appearance on the stage at this year's Oscars ceremony.

The 81-year-old actress, who was recently treated for breast cancer and suffered a horse-riding accident, has had extensive facial plastic surgery, a fact which did not go unnoticed by Twitter users, including Donald Trump ("Kim should sue her plastic surgeon") and NY Post columnist Robert Rorke  who said Novak's appearance was one of the "eight weirdest Oscar moments".

Trump
Donald Trump suggested Kim Novak should sue her plastic surgeon (Reuters)

In response to the social media storm directed at Novak, author Laura Lippman led the protests by posting a picture of her own bare face and, with the addition of the philanthropic #breastcancerawareness hashtag, has attempted to turn the narcissistic photo habit into something worthwhile.

Now - despite Cancer Research playing no part in the campaign - the charity has revealed to the Telegraph that it has received almost a million unexpected donations as a result. Over £1 million was raised through 800,000 text donations, while the charity also saw a sudden rise in visits to its website. In addition, Cancer Research said it had experienced an influx of people donating at their UK shops.

Although it was not an orchestrated campaign, the charity tweeted its support after noticing the trend:

Some have argued that the campaign is simply vanity, thinly veiled as a humanitarian act. On balance, an unmade face has little to do with cancer and does not directly raise money for charity. 

And in some ways, it seems that Lippman's original picture - posted after Novak was criticised after the Oscars - has simply had a cancer awareness hashtag added without any further thought. It is also difficult to stomach the idea that posting a photograph of what you actually look like, minus the foundation or mascara, is deemed brave - particularly when juxtaposed with cancer.

The statistics, however, show that selfies actually are having an impact - whether vanity is involved or not. Regardless of its flaws, there is definitely something to be said for the solidarity of participants in the campaign.

Instead of berating someone for not running a marathon or doing anything "constructive", it seems more appropriate to recognise that there is good intent behind the photos - despite the element of vanity. Admittedly, more can be done that a quick selfie and some may have only posted for comments, but others have done it to try and make a difference.

Taking a quick picture may not be immediately life changing, nor is it equivalent to donating your life savings or climbing a mountain. But the campaign - along with a text donation - is quick and easy way to do a little bit to to beat cancer. The #nomakeupselfie campaign is uniting people in a positive way and, so far, it has made an indisputable impact to Cancer Research.

You can donate at Cancerresearchuk.org.