Sharks and Cosmetics: What YOU need to know

“Do you wear makeup? Then more likely than not you’re wearing shark on your face.”

A few weeks ago I was having a conversation with filmmaker, biologist, conservationist and fellow shark lover, Rob Stewart. His first film brought to light an enormous issue we face globally, shark fishing and finning. Sharkwater opened the eyes of many, introducing people around the world to the destructive and unsustainable shark fishing industry. And as we stood, talking about his new film Sharkwater Extinction, he said the above words to me; “Do you wear makeup? Then more likely than not you’re wearing shark on your face.” I stood there for a second, shocked and a little embarrassed. I consider myself an ambassador for the ocean, especially the sharks I’ve been obsessed with since I was a little girl. Was I really contributing to the slaughter of these animals? It was this very conversation that drove me to do a little digging of my own.

Sharks are being killed for more than just their fins.

Every year about 100 million sharks are killed for their fins and as bycatch. But what many people don’t know is that sharks are also being killed for their livers. Squalene, or shark liver oil is being used in cosmetics around the world because of its moisturizing properties. However, many cosmetic companies do not have squalene listed as an ingredient in their products. Instead, if you’re looking to avoid products containing shark, look for the ingredient squalane. Notice the ‘e’ in squalene has been swapped out for an ‘a’.

Squalane, the hydrogenized form of squalene (see here), can also be derived from plants. However, PETA’s Caring Consumer Guide has squalane listed as primarily derived from animals, especially shark liver oil. (Link)

So, how do we, the consumer avoid purchasing products containing shark, especially when cosmetic companies are NOT required to disclose whether or not the squalane in their products is plant or animal derived? Personally, I think companies would be proud to advertise cruelty-free products. If the company was truly using plant-derived squalane would that not be an incentive for you to choose their product over a company utilizing shark liver oil?

We need to start demanding that companies disclose to us where their ingredients come from.

Only then will companies begin to switch to meet the consumers wants with more eco-friendly products.

Sharks live in our oceans as apex predators; and as apex predators are essential for ensuring our oceans are healthy. Apex predators feed on species that are abundant, ensuring that no one species overpopulates and depletes the species on which it feeds. Unfortunately a study released by Bloom and Chabrol in 2012 found that about 90% of the worlds shark liver oil production goes straight into cosmetic industries. This equates to about 2.7 MILLION deep-sea sharks caught and killed yearly for cosmetics.

This needs to change. And YOU can be a huge part of that change.

Please spread the word and share this article. And if you haven’t check out Rob Stewart’s film Sharkwater, and support the making of his newest film at http://www.sharkwater.com/ .

 

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