I worked at The Body Shop a couple of years ago for about six months as a sales leader. The schedule was flexible, the people were nice, and it smelled great in the store.
Many people love The Body Shop’s products not just because of the smell, but also because they feel good on the skin, and are well known for containing natural and Fair Trade ingredients from all around the world. But is The Body Shop paraben-free?
At the time I worked there, the majority of The Body Shop’s products still contained parabens, in addition to other irritant ingredients. I would have several customers come into the store, see all of the signs with appealing pictures of natural ingredients, start smelling and trying the products, be ready to check out, and then stop dead in their tracks once they started reading the labels. I lost many sales because these customers felt misled by the advertising and promotional materials. These customers came into the store for natural products, then looked at the labels and saw a laundry list of irritant and potentially toxic chemical ingredients mixed in with the beautiful organic, Community Trade, natural ingredients. It really was a shame.
A Glimmer of Hope for Change
I spoke to my manager about this on several occasions, and she was aware of this and shared my frustration. She did tell me that the company was well aware of the dangers of parabens, and was in the process of transitioning to paraben-free. Some product ranges were being discontinued and pulled from the shelves and were being replaced with paraben-free formulations. The new products coming in also were paraben-free. I left my position there feeling very confident that the company was headed in the right direction paraben-wise.
The Follow-up Investigation
It is now nearly two years later, and I am very sorry to say that The Body Shop is not yet paraben-free. Most of the product ranges that were being sold at the time I worked there, such as the Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Seaweed, and Wise Woman skin care ranges; several of the body butters; most of the hair care products; most of the soaps and shower gels; most of the makeup (except for the Nature’s Minerals range); and the list goes on.
There are several products that are newer, and do not contain parabens such as the Rainforest hair care line, Nutriganics skin care line, Deo-Dry deodorant, etc. However, there is a new skin care product range called Natrulift (not to be confused with Nutra-Lift) which has a serum that contains parabens. There are other preservatives in the formulation as well. This very unfortunate, and completely unnecessary.
Additionally, most of the products, even the paraben-free ones contain other irritant ingredients, such as sodium laureth sulfate, propylene glycol, polysorbate-80, and several artificial fragrance ingredients. If there are so many natural ingredients, why do they need artificial fragrances in the products?
The Findings: Is The Body Shop Paraben-Free?
I would have thought that more progress would have been made in the last two years. The Body Shop is owned by L’Oreal, and they spend a ton of money on marketing. It’s not like they don’t have the money to put safer preservatives and less irritant ingredients into their products. And I know for a fact that it IS absolutely possible to create beautiful, organic, toxin-free skincare that WORKS – I do it myself all the time, and teach others to do the same in Create Your Skincare.
I am very disappointed in The Body Shop because as a company, they do so many wonderful things with Community Trade (their Fair Trade initiative), human rights advocacy, spreading awareness of issues like child sex trafficking and domestic abuse, and have always been against animal testing. Yet, in spite of all of these wonderful company values, they continue to put ingredients that are known irritants, toxins, and carcinogens into their products.
It pains me to say this, but The Body Shop is BUSTED by the Paraben Police.
*Thanks again to Christi Ashley for the Paraben Police badge!
UPDATED 6/25/17 to add: L’Oreal is now in talks to sell The Body Shop to Brazil’s Natura. It will be interesting to see how this affects their formulations. Source: Reuters.