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Make up your mind!

Aathirai Rajasekar | October 22, 2020

With skincare becoming a part of self care and makeup becoming an everyday essential, the cosmetic industry has taken over our lives, one brand at a time. Unfortunately, we often forget the flip side and let it slide. Recently, I read about sharks being exploited by the cosmetic industry to the point where they could be extirpated if we don’t ban the use of squalene or shark liver oil.

Squalene is a lipid found in many animals, plants and even in human sebum. It’s smooth texture, water solubility and resistance to extreme temperature makes it the primary ingredient in almost all beauty products right from moisturizer to lip gloss. Around hundred million sharks are killed every year, of which three to six million deep sea sharks are annihilated by the cosmetic industry.

In a survey conducted in 2013, 15 out of 25 world’s largest cosmetic brands used shark squalene in their products. When the American NGO OCEANA published a study on the same, leading cosmetics manufacturers like Unilever, LVMH, L’Oreal, La Mer, etc decided to use plant squalene in place of shark squalene. Yet, a lot of brands chose not to make this commitment as plant based squalene is 30% more expensive than its animal based counterpart. Although when laboratory tests were conducted, most of these leading brands still used shark squalene along with some plant squalene.

However, there are some brands that take conscious effort to inform the consumers about the eco responsible usage of squalene. Brands like Clinique and Estee Lauder highlight the use of plant based squalene, in their product label. Whereas other brands like The Body Shop, Weleda and A-DERMA mention it on their brand packaging as well as their website. While brands like Clarins and Dr. Scheller take it a step further by displaying strong environmental commitments by implementing eco-responsible and sustainable practices, such as using exclusively vegan formulas where they extract squalene from olives and sugarcane.

How do we pay heed to this as sensible humans? Well, instead of blaming the industry and the government (which is not going to get us anywhere), we can try to educate ourselves about pressing issues like this and make sure we don’t condone such practices. To begin with, one could switch to vegan options from some of the regular brands like Too faced, Smashbox, Anastasia Beverly Hills or go completely vegan with The Body Shop, Nyx, Elf and Bare Minerals. Certain brands market their products as cruelty free and that is quite misleading. Cruelty free doesn’t mean that they don’t use any constituents derived from animals but what they imply is that they don’t test their products on animals. Next time when you’re investing on a product make sure it’s cruelty free and vegan by checking their packaging or website, if not check with the store manager and ask them the right questions! A little research goes a long way ;)

P.s- If you guys know some indigenous vegan brands, please do share it with me and your friends, as we will not only build a sustainable life but also support our genuine local vendors. Cheers!