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Sharks Are Being Exploited

Shark ingredients are hiding in food, cosmetics, supplements and more

There could be sharks in your house right now and you wouldn’t even know it.

Every year, humans slaughter up to 100 million sharks—but contrary to popular belief, it’s not just for their fins. Sharks are killed for their flesh, cartilage, skin and livers to make everyday household products like supplements, pet food, fertilizer, makeup and skincare. And the demand for these ingredients is driving some species of sharks to the edge of extinction.

So where are sharks hiding in your house, and how can you switch to cruelty-free alternatives?

Check your makeup bag for squalene and squalane

Squalene (and its derivative squalane) is harvested for its reported moisturizing powers. As a result, it’s often found in everything from sunscreen to foundation, lipstick, tanning lotion and other similar skincare and cosmetics products.

Much of the squalene and squalane found in cosmetics is made from shark liver. Roughly three million sharks are killed every year for this one ingredient, and yet plant-based squalene not only exists—it’s often considered to be cheaper and of higher quality than the animal-based version. Plant squalene can come from olives, amaranth seeds, rice bran, wheat germ, fungi and date palm so there’s no need to be using a cruel version with so much plant-based goodness at our disposal.

Look for shark liver oil in your medicine cabinet

Shark liver oil is an ingredient that shows up in many over- and under-the-counter topical ointments used to heal wounds. Shark liver oil is also found in fish oil supplements, immune system boosters, vaccines and more. Where possible, talk with your doctor to see if plant-based alternatives exist.

Check the kitchen and garden for shark meat

Some canned and pre-packaged fish contains shark meat. If you don’t eat fish, you should be aware that this warning extends to Fido’s food bowl as well. A lot of fish-flavored pet products—including both wet and dry food, as well as treats—often contain shark meat rather than the tuna, salmon or crab that’s listed on the label. The same goes for fertilizer. Some brands of this garden aid may use bits of ground fishmeal, including shark, to boost the beauty of your plants.

In both cases, alternative options may be harder to find. We recommend contacting the brand or supplier to ask for more information on the ingredients and their sources, and to encourage them to look for shark-free alternatives.

More ways to help

Pledge to protect sharks by banning these products from your shelves at home, and also by learning more about the cruel slaughter of this vital species. Purchase our limited edition Shark Fin Soap with 100 percent of the purchase price supporting the Rob Stewart Sharkwater Foundation or pick up Charity Pot Body Lotion, which supports grassroots organizations working on human rights, animal protection and environmental justice, including groups devoted to shark protection and healthy oceans.