Did you know:
One little ingredient in products like sunscreens, moisturizing lotions, lip balms, lipsticks and face creams is responsible for the death of over THREE MILLION sharks annually.
Killer ingredient: Squalene
“Squalene is a naturally occurring compound found in large quantities in the liver of sharks,” explains the shark protection group Shark Trust. “A sharks’ large oily liver helps to control its position in the water column, however many cosmetics companies use the oil as a base for their moisturizing and skin care creams, lipstick and gloss, as it is non-greasy and softens skin.”
Where does Squalene come from:
A United Nations report lists more than 50 shark species that are fished for their oil, several of which are currently listed on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's Red List.
Depending on the species, a shark's oily liver can comprise up to 20% of its body weight, making deep-sea sharks a prime target for fishermen looking to harvest squalene.
The process is sometimes very similar to the now infamous shark-finning but instead of taking the animal’s fin for the production of questionable medications and shark fin soup, fishermen take the animal’s liver. The practice is known as shark “livering”
Non-shark squalene can be extracted from vegetables and other plant-based substances to create a product known as "Squalane". Squalane has very similar properties to squalene and it is a much more sustainable substitute.
Be an informed consumer. Make sure to read the label of any cosmetic products you may use. Look for the words ’100% plant-derived,’ ‘vegetable based’ or ‘vegetable origins.’ If the label doesn’t indicate its specific source, ask the manufacturer if a product contains squalene derived from sharks.
Photo from: Rob Stewart, Sharkwater