Leading firms remove shark oil from formulations

By Guy Montague-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Cosmetics

Leading cosmetics companies are phasing out the use of shark
liver oil in skin care formulations in response to growing to
pressure from environmental campaigners.

Both Unilever and L'Oreal have promised to stop using shark liver oil, also known as squalene, in their cosmetic products. The companies vowed to remove the ingredient, which is added as an emollient to creams, lotions and glosses, following a sustained investigative campaign by Oceana, the international marine conservation organisation. Cosmetic formulators will be glad to discover that there is an equivalent to shark liver oil found in nature. Squalene may also be sourced from olives and boasts the same qualities as the shark-based alternative at a lower price, according to Oceana. The environmental organisation spoke to manufacturers and visited ports and cosmetic shops in the course of its campaign. It can now confirm that Beiersdorf, LVMH, Henkel, Boots, Clarins, Sisley and La Mer (an Estée Lauder brand) have also either made the decision to stop using animal-based squalene or never used it in the first place. Deep-sea sharks are often caught specifically for their squalene oil which is harvested from their livers, where it is found in great quantities. Such sharks have especially large reserves of squalene, as their livers account for up to one-third of the weight of the entire animal. The excessive catches of these animals have contributed to dramatic population declines of certain species, some of which are on the IUCN Red List of threatened species. "Oceana is satisfied to see that some of the biggest names in the cosmetics industry are recognising their corporate social responsibilities and choosing not to contribute to the extinction of these important animals,"​ said Rebecca Greenberg, a marine scientist with Oceana and coordinator of the shark campaign.

Related topics Formulation & Science

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