Is Smooth Skin Worth Extinction?

Shark Liver Oil

Shark Liver Oil

In honor of Shark Week’s 27th year, a discussion about the beauty industry and what it is doing to our underwater friends is long overdo. While the ocean is vastly under explored, it is well known that overfishing is causing our underwater ecosystems to struggle while trying to maintain their balance. Tuna is not the only thing being caught in these nets, however, so are many sharks. The sole purpose of sharks being captured is not only for their fins, but for their livers as well.  Shark livers produce an ingredient loved by the beauty industry called “squalene.” It is a potent moisturizer that does not leave a greasy residue, making it perfect for lip balms, body lotions and face creams, but is this ingredient worth taking down the oceans top predator?

Let’s backtrack to why we need to care more about sharks, and why we need to boycott products that kill these amazing animals for the sake of selling a product.

Sharks are at the top of the food chain in the ocean. They’re the garbage men of the sea, and go after weak or dying animals. When a sharks hunt, they are very intelligent about how they go about it. If they choose to go after a healthy seal, they ambush from the bottom and wait for the seal to slow down before going in to finish the hunt. A shark will not risk putting itself in danger for food, therefore, injuring their kill and waiting for it to slow down, or going after something that is already dead is much safer for the shark.  Smart, huh?

That being said, why are sharks beneficial to the ocean, and in turn, to us?  

Think of sharks as the first domino in a line. If that domino falls, the entire line collapses.  If sharks keep dying out at the rate that we are killing them, that is exactly what will happen under the sea.  Our planet is 70% water, and if that begins to deteriorate, so will everything else up on land.  The underwater ecosystems need sharks to thrive, and the beauty industry continues to savagely hunt these beautiful creatures for makeup.  Nearly 3 million sharks are needed every year to meet the demand for squalene, and while some cosmetics companies have opted to make their products shark free, a report by the French NGO has discovered that Europe is one of the most prominent players in the fight to end the shark slaughter.  The rest of the world, not so much.

Cosmetics companies such as Dove, L’Oreal, Clarins and La Mer claim that they have foregone all squalene products, however, 90% of squalene in Japan comes from sharks, and all the companies mentioned above operate in Asia.

Sharks are dragged out of the ocean to have their livers cut out, and thrown back into the water, often alive.  Because it is cheaper to get squalene from sharks than it is the vegetable alternative, cosmetics companies still prefer this method.

If you find squalene in one of your products, will you still use it?