Why I will not buy The Body Shop body lotions and butter again

Why I will not buy The Body Shop skin care products for now
Fair trade. Non-cruelty to animals. Social- and environment-friendly ingredients, sourced ethically. These were some of Anita Roddick's principles when she founded The Body Shop in 1976. My first TBS products were a lipstick and loose powder, from their outlet in Heathrow Airport, London, when I was going home for the holidays, and found I had accidentally packed my makeup in the check-in luggage and couldn't powder my oily face. From then, TBS body butters and body lotions have been my moisturisers of choice, as you must have seen from many haul and empties posts here. So what's wrong now?
As usual, I finished another tub of The Body Shop Body Butter earlier this month - this was Lemon - and reached for a new tub bought in February - Olive. A weeks' use later (I shower twice a day and moisturise all over), I felt there was something off. My skin felt... heavier. Not thicker, not dry; just heavy. I don't know how else to describe it. I peeled off the label of the body butter and took a look at the ingredients. I don't know what caused the heaviness, but what I saw was enough to make me stop using the body butter.
Why I will not buy The Body Shop skin care products for now
Before I get into that, let's have a look at the body butter jars I have at hand right now. The Lemon one is empty, as I said. The Satsuma is unopened and expires in December 2014, and the Olive jar has been used for a week.
The empty Lemon Body Butter expires in 2014.
Why I will not buy The Body Shop skin care products for now
The Olive body butter expires only in December 2015.
Why I will not buy The Body Shop skin care products for now

The paraben problem in The Body Shop moisturisers - a recent addition

Now take a look at the ingredients. Lemon and Satsuma first. No parabens.
Why I will not buy The Body Shop skin care products for now
Why I will not buy The Body Shop skin care products for now
Below are the ingredients of the Olive Body Butter. Note the parabens above the watermark.
Why I will not buy The Body Shop skin care products for now
Now we move on to the body lotions, which I apply once a day. I am in the middle of the Shea Whip Body Lotion at the moment. Mercifully paraben-free as you must have guessed from the older packaging. We're going to look at Satsuma Body Puree, Moringa Milk and Sweet Lemon Whip body lotions.
Why I will not buy The Body Shop skin care products for nowWhy I will not buy The Body Shop skin care products for now
Satsuma Body Puree has newer packaging. I bought it in February, along with the Olive Oil Body Butter. This expires in November 2015.
Why I will not buy The Body Shop skin care products for now
Sweet Lemon Whip expires in  May 2015 while Moringa Milk Body Lotion expires in February 2015.
Why I will not buy The Body Shop skin care products for now
We're going to look at the ingredients now, older packaging first. Here are Morigna Milk and Sweet Lemon Whip. No parabens. Sorry for such god-awful pictures; we all know I suck at photography. I hope you can see some of the writing at least.
Why I will not buy The Body Shop skin care products for now
Why I will not buy The Body Shop skin care products for now
Satsuma Body Puree, on the other hand, contains parabens.
Why I will not buy The Body Shop skin care products for now

Are parabens harmful or not?

I have no idea if parabens are harmful or not, since there are conflicting opinions about this. However, as my former boss used to say, "When in doubt, leave it out." 
I asked my derm, who is a close family friend, what she thought caused the heaviness. She said it could be sulphites or even dimethicone, but since I had not had problems with dimethicone elsewhere and could not pinpoint the sulphites in these, it could be that my skin didn't like something new that was there in the ingredients - it went away two days after I stopped using the Olive butter and moved to Sweet Lemon Whip. I also keep asking my derm what she thinks of parabens and she keeps saying no one knows for sure, but parabens have been found in breast tumour tissue, though we cannot say if it helped cause tumour in any way, and they do mimic oestrogen. Again, oestrogen is proven to encourage endometriosis.
The jury is very much divided on parabens, as you must have read all over the place. As a rule, I am quite easygoing as long as my makeup does not cause adverse reactions. Quite a few of my eyeliners, lipsticks and mascaras contain parabens. However, I am a bit more particular about skin care.
There is a difference between applying a little mascara with parabens on my eyelashes, or blush with parabens on the cheeks, or even a face mask with parabens, which I'll wash off in some 20 minutes. But because there is some history of oestrogen-issues in my family, rubbing in dollops of body lotion that contains two or three kinds of parabens two times a day all over your skin is not something I want to do until we have conclusive evidence that parabens are perfectly fine even with regard to oestrogen-mimicking. As a matter of fact, I stopped using Lush moisturisers because of parabens.
I will use up the paraben-free products shown here, but not the ones with parabens.
Why has The Body Shop recently introduced parabens into their lotions and butters? When many companies are pulling out parabens from their ingredients and shouting it out from the rooftops their labels, TBS goes and ADDS them???

And, the animal testing connection 

This has nothing to do with cosmetics, but I want to tell you something I have personally seen. Two years ago, I was sent to cover an international diabetes conference, where I have actually seen white mice being fed and injected with super-high levels of sugars in order to test newer kinds of insulin. The company in question made the sucrose cube thingies and another company made special cages with provisions for sugar cubes and control cubes on either side. Half the visitors thought the brightly-coloured cubes were candy and ate them up. The company official saw my press pass and gave me a guided tour. Some protestors were asked if they would volunteer or if they are willing to not be treated at all for any ailment, since every medicine or drug that hits the market undergoes animal testing long before clinical trials. I admit to using products that don't have the cruelty-free label as long as I don't get allergies. I have spoken to several researchers at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, about this and, they said, as of now, the verdict is that there seems to be no viable alternative to discover new ways of treating diseases. But the ethics of this, the rights and the wrongs, and the medical morals are not what I am discussing here, so let us not get drawn into that. Just wanted to share some of my journalistic adventures.
I am talking about the U-turn that The Body Shop seems to have taken with regards to animal testing.
Take a look at the label on the bottle of Moringa Milk Body Lotion and the Lemon Body Butter - it clearly states the company's policy.
Why I will not buy The Body Shop skin care products for nowWhy I will not buy The Body Shop skin care products for now
This declaration also exists on the Sweet Lemon Whip. And now, we are looking at the labels on the Satsuma Body Puree - where did that declaration go?
Why I will not buy The Body Shop skin care products for nowWhy I will not buy The Body Shop skin care products for now
This, by itself, was mystifying. But there is more.
Last week, Kimberly Hannah of The Plastic Diaries posted a very interesting item on her Facebook page: an article that claims that TBS is selling out on animal testing, since the brand had entered China. Kimberly's latest update about this is a news item that TBS has pulled out from China. Then what was the point in going in?
Mind you, Lush is very clear about their stand on animal testing and lobbied away until the EU passed a legislation banning it entirely - for cosmetics, not medicines.
All this is a confusing rollercoaster-ride. Surely a company like TBS would be well aware of China's stand on animal testing before they even venture into that market? And, whatever happened to the label? Is this because TBS was purchased by L'Oreal in 2006, and policies have changed recently?

What about other products from The Body Shop?

This paragraph has been added an hour after publishing the post. Some of you have asked me about The Body Shop's other products. Apart from skin care, I love the Rainforest sulphate-free shampoos and conditioners from the brand. I have not bought any new shampoos so far in 2014 as I have stocked up heavily on these lol. And the ones I have contain no parabens or sulphates and do carry both "against animal testing" and "eco-conscious" labels. I cannot speak for other products as I haven't used their scrubs in ages and the one compact I have was bought in early 2013. I will check out the Rainforest shampoos once I run out and let you know what I find (End of edit).
Bottom Line
Are we to conclude that The Body Shop is no longer "against animal testing", since the label has gone from the latest products? And, that all new products will contain parabens from now on? Either way, until we get some answers from the company and they make either stand clearer, I am not buying body lotions and body butters from TBS. I will, however, buy shampoos and conditioner from the Rainforest range once I run out, and see if things have changed.
Disclaimer: Entirely my own opinion. Not a paid post. No agenda, nothing against any company or person, just disappointed by recent additions and changes to one of my favourite brands. All products shown are from TBS outlets and paid for by me. Neither TBS nor Lush is, at the time of writing this post, aware of my existence.
Two days until my international blogoversary giveaway ends.
  1. OH my god....its disappointing....Thanks for a detailed post like this which actually points out such misleading information by brands....claiming to be cruelty free, but exception on certain items...This is ridiculous....
    TBS is one among my fav brands and this is something which I never thought would happen...
    Hmm, I will have to go through my pdt ingredient list now....

    I think, now Loccitane is the only brand which we can trust....

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  2. Wooaa.. seriously? TBS is my fave :'( Need to find another one huh?

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  3. hey very good post. thanks for this will be careful from now.
    but after ur post i checked all the stuff i have from tbs, 2 butters, 1 lotion and 1 souffle type moisturizer. i didnt see parabens in any and all have the against animal testing declaration on them. ive bought all of them here in the US since ive come here in august'13. and i have 1 shower gel of the new packaging that i had bought in india only before i came n 1 shower gel n 2 scrubs i bought here all have animal testing label. so i dont know about their decision about animal testing. or i've even read somewhere that tbs is not consistent with what they sell in diff countries. so im very confused now.
    and also about parabens, maybe they have different recipes of all moisturizers so some have parabens and some dont. its just my guess. n do post more info that u find :)

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  4. Wow I didn't know this, I don't know much about parabens, but the fact that you can feel there's something off about the new products, says it all I guess.. Also the animal testing.. whuuut, why would they change a strong plus like that. Anyway next time I want to buy something from TBS I'll take a good look at the ingredients list and claims :)
    Thank you for this post!

    Love,
    Karlien

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  5. What a brilliant, beautiful article you have compiled. I love that you just stated what you saw, what you have learnt and that you aren't claiming to know whether some things are good or bad. Just brilliant. Well done!

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  6. Oh my......It's really disappointing....I am really shocked to read all this......:(

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  7. Oh my God! Animal testing?
    What is wrong with TBS?

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  8. am bit disappointed to see TBS under the radar :O !

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  9. I'm gutted to read this post, I really thought that TBS were better than this. To go and change one one of the best things they had going for them (against animal testing) just so they can hop along and sell in China is awful. I say this about every company that tests on animals, but I wonder how their employees would feel if they went through some of the sh*t that the animals go through. It's disgusting. And it's one of the reasons I always buy my skincare, bath and shower things from LUSH - they don't disappoint in this area and I'm sure they won't start testing on animals (or they'd lose A LOT of customers/business).
    A very detailed post, thank you for letting us know.
    Daniela xo // danielascribbles

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  10. Wow! That is so disappointing :(

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  11. aww :( its so disappointing

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  12. thanks for sharing this post

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  13. TBS was my favourite.But I got close to expiry products from their sale.Now these changes and I hate it :( Glad you have thrown some light here

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  14. Wow! This was a very good post, something that I'm sure a lot of us needed to see!
    Well I can say that I will never use one of these again! Goes to show that we should be looking at the label's a lot more! Great post again and deffo will take this into account and spread the word! xx

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  15. Sad and disappointing. It's one thing if the company has always been known to contain certain ingredients, but it's another thing when a company which historically did use those ingredients (such as TBS), now suddenly decides to do so.

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  16. very well written Renu.... didn't expect TBS to do such a volte face regarding animal testing.... good you caught on to and shared this.

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  17. Great post, well written! Indeed there's a lot of unanswered questions out there, and since I just purchased a few bits for my face skin care routine recently, I'll definitely go check out the labels!!!!
    Too bad for TBS..ruining their image themselves is quite...stupid!

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  18. Aprajita TrivediApril 13, 2014

    OMG!!!!!!!!
    M REALLY SO SHOCKED !!!

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  19. IshtyleAwhileJune 04, 2014

    Woah!! Really makes you reconsider things!!1

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  20. I emailed the body shop about this. OF course Loreal owns them now so they'll do anything for
    a dollar. I agree with you so much. I returned my things way back and don't shop there anymore.
    I think they're going to go bankrupt with The Body Shop unless they change things. The shop isn't even fun anymore like it use to be.

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  21. Loreal bought The Body Shop when the owner died.

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  22. The Body Shop is owned by Loreal now, that's why they have gone crappy

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  23. Loreal bought them out when the owner died that's why they're so crappy now. Loreal has no ethics just money making schemes

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  24. MyBeautyJunctionNovember 30, 2014

    Which is what flabbergasts me. They were proud of their environmentally and socially safe products but all of a sudden that ethic goes for a toss?

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  25. MyBeautyJunctionNovember 30, 2014

    Thank you, Cait! I wonder if TBS products sold in the UK carry the same ingredients and labelling discrepancies. The ones here are also made in the UK but one wonders if they import slightly different products.

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  26. MyBeautyJunctionNovember 30, 2014

    True.

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  27. MyBeautyJunctionNovember 30, 2014

    Gosh, really? How awful!

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  28. MyBeautyJunctionNovember 30, 2014

    I know, right! I have stocked up on the body lotions and butters but this is such a let-down. Soap & Glory used to be paraben-free but I picked up a bunch of products from the Gulf and most of them had parabens :(

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  29. MyBeautyJunctionNovember 30, 2014

    Yeah, I'm thinking of looking at L'Occitane as an option.

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  30. MyBeautyJunctionNovember 30, 2014

    Thanks for sharing that, Poorva. Are the bottles in the US made in the UK? The ones here are all made in the UK but I wonder if they import slightly different products? Or, because I bought the paraben-ones only last month, it could be a very new development.

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  31. MyBeautyJunctionNovember 30, 2014

    Thank you! I don't know much about parabens either but anything that mimics oestrogen is a no-no if you've had any gynaecological problems in the family. My Mum developed endometriosis some years ago so I'm staying away from parabens till we know more.

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  32. made in UK. ya thats also possible thats its a new thing.

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  33. Try again.....many L'Occitane products contain parabens as well. : (

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  34. I was also quite stunned when I saw parabens on three body butters I purchased in a gift set. I am an avid and consistent label reader, but I purchased the butters without even thinking to research the ingredients. They were from The Bodyshop, afterall. I am certified in oncology esthetics and I refrain from purchasing skin care and beauty products with toxic/unsafe ingredient, even though parabens are 'controversial.' The US' standards are completely different than the EU, and many toxic/unsafe ingredients continue to be present in many products. Even the exact same company, brand, and product can consist of dangerous ingredients in the US where in the EU these same products do not. Thank you for spreading the word about your findings, as this is the only way for consumers to become aware and demand change... and I do believe changes have been and will continue to happen as long as we all communicate with each other.

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  35. Thank you for taking the time to make one of the best-ever comments on this blog! I think it's very unfair that a brand has different standards for different regions - as if some people can be exposed to certain chemicals/ingredients while others must be protected. A lot of "top" brands tend to push rubbishy products in their own line, to Asian countries. For all their claims of being holier-than-thou and ever so ethical, this discrepancy in labels was shocking from TBS. I admit I've been tempted at times to go into their store and buy a few things, but I've resolutely stayed away since then. Oncology aesthetics? That sounds really interesting, I'm off to google it!

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