L’Oréal has recently sold The Body Shop to the Brazilian company Natura Cosméticos. The contract that was signed gave The Body Shop an enterprise value of over £1bn.
Who are Natura Cosméticos?
Natura is a Brazilian manufacturer of beauty products, skin care, hair care, perfumes and more. It is currently the largest cosmetic producer in Brazil, and it is a founding member of the Union for Ethical BioTrade.
Are Natura Cosméticos cruelty free?
On the Nature website, the company states the following:
“In 2001, Natura Brasil decided to end its use of animal testing. Major investment in education, training and the search for new alternative technologies enabled us to replace animal testing with in vitro procedures. We eliminated animal testing for all our finished products […] and also for our raw materials and active ingredients.” – Marcos Vaz, Director of Technical Services at Natura Brasil in Brazil
“We also insist that no animal testing is involved in the design of raw materials for Natura Brasil by our suppliers.”
“We carry out laboratory tests that simulate the reaction of a living organism, an animal or human skin to the product. To test for skin irritation, instead of using animal skin we use an artificial skin made in vitro from a cell culture. In November 2008, the Brazilian NGO PEA (animal protection organisation), a reference in the field, included Natura Brasil on its list of companies that do not use animal testing.”
Why wasn’t The Body Shop considered truly cruelty free?
In 2006 the founder of The Body Shop, Dame Anita Roddick, sold her company to makeup giant L’Oréal. This caused, and has continued to cause, a lot of controversy for The Body Shop as they placed their business value on issues such as ethical sourcing, fair-trade, natural ingredients, and of course being against animal testing.
L’Oréal on the other hand are a major brand which still tests ingredients and finished products on animals by agreeing to sell in China, as well as avoiding almost all issues to do with ethicality, wellbeing, and sourcing amongst others.
Roddick claimed that The Body Shop would inspire and encourage L’Oréal to take a leaf out of their book on cases such as these, but instead The Body Shop experienced a huge decrease in sales in 2016 as many people boycotted the brand, feeling that their money would in part go to L’Oréal and contribute towards animal testing and other injustices.
Another reason for the decline in sales is because The Body Shop has faced competition from huge companies such as Lush, who are explicitly against animal testing without the overhanging weight of a parent company.
Due to this competition The Body Shop is now absolutely upping their game, releasing ambitions to ensure all of their natural ingredients are traceable, cruelty-free, and sustainably sourced, as well as reducing the carbon footprint of all of their stores.
What does this all mean for The Body Shop?
After a long period of silence about this by The Body Shop, they have recently drummed up their anti-animal testing campaigns again, having ended their charity The Body Shop Foundation and starting up the charity Revolution in Kindness instead.
The charity’s website can be found at https://revolutioninkindness.org. Revolution in Kindness isn’t currently very active online or on their social media pages but as a new organisation it’s understandable that this takes some time to set up.
I feel like L’Oréal’s ownership has been a mistake for The Body Shop, but without L’Oréal’s funding The Body Shop may have been completely wiped out. The fierce competition on the high street from stores like Lush and Neal’s Yard mean that The Body Shop has finally chosen to go back to their original ethos and I just hope it isn’t a little too late.
Is The Body Shop cruelty free?
Natura Cosmetics claim to be cruelty free and they are listed by the Brazilian NGO PEA as a company that supports animal protection. However, as of yet there is no word from organisations such as Cruelty Free International or any other global cruelty free network.
The Body Shop, at this point in time, is unclear whether it is actually cruelty free or not. They claim they want to ensure all of their ingredients are traceable and cruelty free by 2020 – so it seems like they currently aren’t which is worrying.
The Body Shop’s ambition is faultless, but right now I’m not sure the company has had enough of a dramatic overhaul to prove its ethos. Everything still seems to be smoke and mirrors, and for now I’m sitting on the fence when it comes to purchasing from The Body Shop. I am by no means against The Body Shop, and I hope they will reach their ambitions and be a truly cruelty free, natural, environmentally friendly chain, but until they prove they have actually done so, I think The Body Shop is still in a bit of a haze.