Sunday, March 16, 2014

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

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 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 inconsistency that The Body Shop seems to show with regards to disclosure on 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.

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