After a short break in the Company checkup post series, it’s time to pull out the big guns. This time I will be discussing one of the biggest green cosmetic companies out there – I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that the Body Shop was the start of the green cosmetic movement, that has lead to people being more aware of what they put in their faces. Founded in 1976, the Body Shop has been very successful at creating a worldwide brand profile that exlaims key words like green, earth and nature.
So, let’s take a closer look at what the Body Shop’s claims. Have they managed to stick to these promises, or are they mostly greenwashing?
In my post series, I’ve sent out emails to every company to find out what they themselves say about their brand and find out how well they live up to their green claims. Many of the companies didn’t get back to me, and Body Shop was one of them. In fact, the PR email adress that was provided on the Swedish website wasn’t even valid. After a bit of research, I managed to find another email address to contact, but that didn’t even result in a reply either. The fact that a big company like the body shop has faulty email addresses on their website is in itself a pretty bad sign, but I won’t be making any judgments based on this, as I might just have visited the site at a bad time, just as they are replacing people or something. Instead of an email reply I did some research on their website to try and find answers to my questions.
THEIR OWN WORDS
What makes the Body Shop natural
”The Body Shop believes that there is only one way to beautiful – nature’s way. Having believed this for many years, The Body Shop has constantly sought out wonderful natural ingredients from all four corners of the globe to bring you products bursting with effectiveness to enhance your natural beauty. Whilst doing all of this The Body Shop also strives to protect this beautiful planet and the people who depend on it – not because it’s fashionable, but based on the belief that it’s the only way.”
”The Body Shop has always been recognised for having a unique approach to packaging and in 2008 The Body Shop introduced 100% PCR bottles (post consumer recyclate) PET bottles (polyethylene terephthalate)”
”The unique Community Trade programme creates sustainable trading relationships with disadvantaged communities around the world and provides essential income to more than 25,000 people across the globe. Over 65% of products contain Community Trade ingredients or are produced through the Community Trade programme”
The Body Shop and animal testing
”We’ve never tested our products on animals. This means you can be sure that our products have not been tested on animals for cosmetic reasons. (…) All The Body Shop® products are certified by BUAV as meeting their Humane Cosmetics Standard.”
THE BODY SHOP: PRODUCTS
I picked out three products at random to have a closer look at the ingredients.
Price: $20 (6.8 oz / 200 ml)
INCI: Water, Glycerin, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Powder, Cetearyl Alcohol, Honey, Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Oil, Moringa Pterygosperma Seed Oil, Silica, Glyceryl Stearate, Bertholletia Excelsa (Brazil) Nut Oil, Lanolin Alcohol, PEG-100 Stearate, Fragrance, Juglans Regia (Walnut) Shell Powder, Moringa Pterygosperma Fruit Powder, Myristamidopropyl PG-Dimonium Chloride Phosphate, Nelumbo Nucifera Seed Powder, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Shell Powder, Phenethyl Alcohol, Carbomer, Caprylyl Glycol, Linalool, Hexyl Cinnamal, Sodium Hydroxide, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Tocopherol, Disodium EDTA, Benzyl Salicylate, Geraniol, Hydrogenated Jojoba Oil, Hydroxycitronellal, Caramel, Yellow 5, Chromium Hydroxide Green, Yellow 5 Lake.
Comments: Most of the first ingredients are of vegetable origin, which is good as the first ingredients are the ones that are included in largest quantities. I’m a bit surprised that glycerin is the largest ingredient after water, as it is normally not suggested to use more than 5% glycerin in a product, other wise it will be drying. Either there is very little of all of the ingredients, or there is way too much glycerin in this product. After all of the vegetable oils, there is a whole bunch of ingredients that are potentially toxic and irritating, such as BENZYL SALICYLATE, LILIAL, HYDROXYCITRONELLAL, HEXYL CINNAMAL, PEG-100 STEARATE and LANOLIN ALCOHOL. There are also some colouring agents and synthetic fragrances which are potentially harmful.
Price: $10 (8.4 fl oz/ 250 ml)
INCI: Water (Solvent/Diluent), Sucrose, Disodium Cocoyl Glutamate (Surfactant), Lauryl Betaine (Surfactant), Laureth-5 Carboxylic Acid (Surfactant – Cleansing Agent), Honey (Natural Additive), PEG-55 Propylene Glycol Oleate (Surfactant), Propylene Glycol (Humectant), Sodium Chloride (Viscosity Modifier), Glycerin (Humectant), Fragrance (Fragrance), Polyglyceryl-4 Caprate (Skin-Conditioning Agent), Sodium Benzoate (Preservative), Sucrose Laurate (Skin-Conditioning Agent), Isopropyl Alcohol (Solvent), Polyquaternium-6 (Conditioner), Salicylic Acid (Preservative/Hair Conditioner), Citric Acid (pH Adjuster), Schinziophyton Rautanenii (Mongongo) Kernel Oil (Skin-Conditioning Agent), Pentaclethra Macroloba Seed Oil (Skin-Conditioning Agent), Sodium Hydroxide (pH Adjuster), Tocopherol (Antioxidant).
Comments: This conditioner includes a few suspicious ingredients such as PEG-55 PROPYLENE GLYCOL OLEATE, SODIUM HYDROXIDE and FRAGRANCE. I’m concerned about how high up on the list the fragrances are, meaning there is apparently a lot of perfume in this product. I also saw that some people had complained about the strong and unpleasant smell in the comments.
Price: $36 (1 fl oz / 30 ml)
INCI: Aqua/Water (Solvent/Diluent), Alcohol Denat. (Solvent/Diluent), Glycerin (Humectant), Chondrus Crispus Powder (Abrasive), Propanediol (Viscosity Modifier), Sodium Hyaluronate (Humectant), Benzyl Alcohol (Preservative), Fagus Sylvatica Bud Extract (Skin Conditioning Agent), Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice (Skin Conditioning Agent), Adenosine (Skin-Conditioning Agent), Parfum/Fragrance (Fragrance), Linalool (Fragrance Ingredient), Crithmum Maritimum Callus Culture Filtrate (Skin Protectant), Orbignya Oleifera Seed Oil (Emollient), Citric Acid (pH Adjuster), Citronellol (Fragrance Ingredient), Buddleja Davidii Extract (Skin-Conditioning Agent), Malva Sylvestris Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract/Malva Sylvestris (Mallow) Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract (Skin Conditioning Agent), Thymus Vulgaris Flower/Leaf Extract/Thymus Vulgaris (Thyme) Flower/Leaf Extract (Skin-Conditioning Agent), Benzoic Acid (Preservative), Sorbic Acid (Preservative), Limonene (Fragrance Ingredient), Sodium Benzoate (Preservative), Potassium Sorbate (Preservative).
Comments: Sorry, I stopped reading after alcohol denat. A product that has alcohol as its main ingredient (after water) shouldn’t be allowed to be called “drops of youth”, because it will definitely do the opposite to you. It is certified organic, but only 20% of the ingredients are of organic origin.
When reading the Body Shop’s american website, they had many pages with info about their view on animal testing, human rights, environment etc. But interestingly enough, I couldn’t find any proper statement about the ingredients they use (apart from: ”We source some of the finest raw ingredients from the four corners of the globe.”) and what they don’t use. They do have a list of their active ingredients, but these are of course only the active ingredients that are naturally produced. However, when I used google to get more information, I came across Body Shop’s Hong Kong website, where I came across a very interesting statement: ”The Body Shop does not claim to be an all-natural company. We offer innovative products that are inspired by authentic natural ingredients from indigenous sources and we do use synthetic ingredients – colours, fragrances, preservatives – and we share that information with our customers so they can make informed choices for their individual needs.”
I have to say, this is the first time I’ve ever heard Body Shop say that they are not an all-natural company. Have you heard that before? Also, the thing about sharing information seem a bit exaggerated, like I said I couldn’t find any information about the ingredients they choose to use in the websites from USA, UK and Sweden. I do recommend you read the Hong Kong Frequently Asked Questions – they go through a few of their ingredients and explain quite honestly the why’s and what’s of their synthetic ingredients.
Like you saw above, the products I looked at did not really meet my standards of being properly natural. But even more than this, I am very concerned by Body Shop’s link to Nestlé. The Body Shop is now by L’oreal, who in turn have Nestlé as one of their main shareholders. You might have see the recently viral video where Nestlé’s former CEO discusses privatisation of water and says that it’s “extreme” to call water a public right. Even though the statement made by Peter Brabeck is from 2005, and has been somewhat exaggerated in the media, it is timely to take a look at the Body Shop with this in mind. Apart from this, Nestlé has a whole lot of shady business going on including child labor, palm oil use etc.. So by buying Body Shop you indirectly support things that are in direct opposition to the values that Body Shop claim to stand by, such as human rights and protection of the environment.
Also, the Body Shop has been one of the first companies to take a strong stance against animal testing, but its owner L’Oreal admittedly still uses animal testing in some of the ingredients in their cosmetic products.
Even without the connection to Nestlé I wouldn’t recommend the products because of their ingredients, one of the main concerns being their excessive use of synthetic fragrances, and all things considered I’m definitely putting Body Shop on my no-no list.