A PACKED audience at the Oxford Union voted against the idea that spending money on looking good was more important than doing good.

The debate on Tuesday was organised by the Oxfordshire Community Foundation (OCF), which connects local charities with businesses looking for a cause to sponsor.

The 380-strong audience listened to a mixture of arguments from six high-profile speakers before casting their vote.

Jayne Woodley, chief executive officer of OCF, opened the debate. She said: “I hope this will be a shared opportunity for all of us to open up our hearts and minds and consider how we choose to spend our time and money.

“Community foundations are all about the common good. One thing society needs more than anything right now is more people to become champions of the common good.”

In favour of the motion were James Bevan of charity investment managers CCLA, plastic surgeon Nigel Mercer and Guardian beauty editor Sali Hughes.

Mr Mercer claimed that humans were “biologically programmed” to like attractiveness and added that there were ways to combine looking good and doing good.

He said: “If VAT was put on to Botox and fillers, we could fund the gap in the health service. We could bring in £2 billion in revenue a year.”

Ms Hughes took a stand for the beauty industry, arguing that it improved people’s happiness and wellbeing.

She said: “Below-the-line commenters frequently wonder how my readers and I can justify spending £30 of our hard-earned cash on moisturiser. They’re amazed to hear women are actually capable of having multiple interests.”

Against the the motion were author Danny Dorling, philanthropy campaigner John Nickson and James Partridge, of disfigurement equality charity Changing Faces.

Mr Dorling, also a professor of geography at Oxford University, said people overspending to improve self-image had “escalated to a point where we need to control it again, and think about how we could use that money in better ways. A quarter of children in this city are living in poverty”.

Mr Nickson focused on the role of private philanthropy in the context of government cuts, citing that the beauty industry is estimated to be worth more than £70 billion but personal giving is at about £10 billion.