Do a quick Google search for “squalene” and you’ll find a bunch of cosmetic and beauty blogs touting its moisturizing qualities.
Seems innocent, right?
It can be, if it’s sourced from vegetarian ingredients. However, the ugly truth is that most squalene comes from shark livers—it’s also partly why millions of sharks are slaughtered every year.
What is it?
Squalene is a compound that comes from shark liver oil (along with squalane, a derivative of squalene). Shark livers are made up of a high concentration of fatty acids, making them integral for a shark’s survival at lower ocean depths. Depending on the species, a shark’s liver can make up to 20 percent of its body weight, making them a prime target for hunters.
What makes squalene so popular in cosmetics like sunscreen, eye makeup, lipstick and lotion? Many manufacturers use shark liver oil in beauty products, because it mimics our body’s natural oils, so it’s easily absorbed without leaving behind a heavy-feeling residue.
Squalene is also a cheaper ingredient (compared to veggie substitutes) that’s been popular with companies for decades. The market for squalene isn’t highly regulated, either and it’s this demand that’s putting sharks at risk. They reproduce infrequently and take decades to grow and mature, putting this keystone species in danger of becoming extinct. And if sharks disappear, it’ll have a devastating effect on the health of our oceans.
Oceans are the largest ecosystems on the planet, partly responsible for the oxygen we breathe and much of the animal protein people eat. They absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and play a part in reducing climate change impacts. The world’s oceans are vital for humans—our health, economy, and our very survival depend on keeping them healthy, and healthy oceans depend on sharks.
Is there shark in my cosmetics?
Ultimately, if you’re unsure about any of the ingredients in your beauty products, a little research goes a long way. Amaranth seed, rice bran, wheat germ and olives are just a few sustainable, vegetarian substitutes from which squalene can be extracted and used instead of shark sources.
When purchasing any products, a quick look at the ingredients can help you make informed decisions. Look for words like:
- 100 percent plant-derived
- If it’s not clear, reach out and ask brands where their squalene comes from
- No ingredients? Well, that’s a whole other concern…
Stop the #SharkAttack
Grab the sea-inspired Shark Fin Soap and lather up with a lime and sea salt sudser. 100 percent of its purchase price (minus the taxes) will support the Rob Stewart Sharkwater Foundation that’s working to save sharks, oceans and humankind.
Or, grab a pot of our delicately-scented Charity Pot Body Lotion. 100 percent of this philanthropic skin soother’s purchase price (minus the taxes) supports grassroots organizations working for environmental justice, animal protection and human rights. Want more? Learn how else you can stop the #SharkAttack.