Rating: Not great
- Packaging kerbside recyclable
- Palm oil derivatives appear to be RSPO certified
- Main ingredients are chemically simple
The Body Shop was established in the United Kingdom in the 1970s with the mission to use the business as a force for good. The brand is known for its stance against animal testing and supporting fair trade. The Body Shop was owned by L’Oreal for a period, but is now owned by the Brazilian-based company Natura.
The active ingredients in body scrubs are just granules of things like salt, sugar and ground up nut shells – packaged up in a liquid and shipped to you. If you are wanting to reduce the environmental impact of your personal care products, this could be a product category to avoid altogether. You could reduce transport emissions and packaging by using some salt and sugar from your pantry. The rating for this product is for its environmental impact compared to other body scrub products – find out more here.
Their Shea Exfoliating Sugar Body Scrub contains salt, sugar and silica as exfoliating ingredients. These ingredients are chemically simple. They are similar to chemicals that are naturally present in waterways, and should not cause too much disruption when they are released in treated waste water.
However, silica is commonly obtained from sand, which is mined. Sand mines can cause erosion and habitat degradation, and are often unregulated. It would be good to have more information on where the silica in this product comes from, but companies very rarely provide (or even have) this information.
The base of the product is made of octyl palmitate, sunflower oil, soy-derived glycine and shea butter. Octyl palmitate is derived from palm oil. The Body Shop is a founding member of the RSPO and only uses RSPO certified palm oil, but it is not as clear if this also extends to palm oil derivatives. On balance, it looks like at least some actions are being taken to ensure more sustainable palm oil is used.
Fragrances include alpha-isomethyl ionone, butylphenyl methylpropional and “parfum”. The first two ingredients are both toxic to aquatic life, although they are also readily biodegradable. Because they are readily biodegradable, some of it will break down during waste water treatment. However, some will still be released to the waterways.
The preservatives in this product are phenoxyethanol and propylparaben – a paraben. Phenoxyethanol has low aquatic toxicity and is readily biodegradable. Propylparaben is also readily biodegradable, but it is toxic to aquatic life. Some will break down during waste water treatment, but some will also be released to the environment where it will have toxic effects.
This product also contains titanium dioxide as a pigment. Titanium dioxide often contains some nanoparticles. The environmental impacts of nanoparticles are currently not well known.
The packaging for this product is good. It is a simple plastic tub without any extra seals, and is recyclable in most standard kerbside recycling schemes.
But does it work?
Considering how well a product works is a big factor in determining whether a product is a good one or not. A product that does not work is a waste.
Image credit: Footnotes and Finds