Sharks play an essential rol in the health of our oceans

Information, News

Do you have a shark on your face??

by Dorien Schröder, Dutch Shark Society

We all know how the shark finning industry is killing millions of sharks each year and that’s why we should not eat shark fin soup. We also know that a lot of shark species are being sold as fish and we should be careful about eating them because of the high levels of (toxic) mercury).

A shark with its liver clearly visible

But a lot of people don’t know shark liver oil is often used in make up. Products such as moisturiser, sunscreen, lipstick and eye makeup have a very small print with ingredients on it. When that reads ‘squalene’, it means shark liver oil is used. The squalene has moisturising properties that are very similar to those of our body, which is why many brands like to use it in their products. United Nation reports on more than 50 shark species that are being fished for the shark liver oil, and some of these are actually on the IUCN Red List.

Sharks do not have a swim bladder that helps them float, like other fish do. Instead their liver is very oily, and because oil is lighter than water, this keeps them from sinking to the ocean floor. This is why especially deep sea shark species are wanted for squalene, as their large oily livers up can make up 20% of their body weight to keep them floating. This is a problem, because we don’t know much about these species yet, but we do know they grow slowly and have small litters, making them especially sensitive to overfishing.

The French organisation Bloom estimates 3 million sharks are caught yearly for ‘livering’, where only the liver of the shark is taken and the rest of the shark is thrown overboard.

Some brands, such as Unilever, have already stopped using squalene as an ingredient, but we do advise you to check the ingredients before buying make up!

Alternatives for squalane/squalene are mentioned here:

This what you do NOT  want in your cosmetics!

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