Sharks in Your Sunscreen

Jhanvi Patel

April 10, 2020

Lurking in many of your favorite beauty products are sharks. Yes, you heard it right. Sharks hide in our cosmetics, medicinal supplements, and food. Every year approximately 100 million sharks are brutally killed in order to be exploited for human needs and greed. The majority of these deaths can be attributed to the desire for shark fin soup; however, increasingly, cosmetics companies have relied on sharks in their products.  The oil obtained from sharks’ livers is called squalene. It is an alkene, and the reason for the terrible fate these majestic creatures face It is one of the most important ingredients in any cosmetic product with hydrating properties, from hair conditioning to moisturizers and lipsticks. The moisturizing effect created by squalene is critical to the texture and efficacy of these products, making their exploitation a key process in the cosmetic industry. It is a natural emollient and helps in preventing fine fines and the easing of dry patches. 

Roughly 3 million sharks are killed annually to obtain this precious ingredient. To avoid the cruel killing of an animal, scientists started exploring plant-based alternatives. They have since succeeded in producing squalene from olives, date palms, and rice bran, which is not only more cost-effective, but also a higher-quality product than the cruel alternative from our friends in the deep.

Together, squalane and squalene make up 10-12 percent of our skin’s natural oil. However, squalene is more stable in its natural state because it is unsaturated, both the compounds are equally important and essential in the cosmetic world. 



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