Opinion: Cosmetics industry is FINished

By Grace Senior, Creative Director

Roughly 3,748,067 to one. According to USA Today, those are the odds of someone being killed by a shark, yet at least 100 million sharks are killed by humans annually.

Sharks are made up of 440 different species, all incredibly important to the ocean’s ecosystem. As apex predators, sharks ensure the ocean does not become overrun by other types of sea life. Additionally, their eating habits help the ecosystem in other ways because of deep sea sharks’ taste for dead critters that have sunk to the bottom of the sea, emitting quite a bit of carbon. The deep sea sharks ingest such creatures and therefore keep the carbon cycle of the ocean in check. Other than their helpful eating habits, sharks do not get sick as often as other animal species, leading scientists to study them even closer, according to Conservation International. This type of research found that the shark’s outer tissue has antibacterial properties that scientists can mimic to create surfaces that attempt to lower the death-by-infection rate among humans below the astonishing 23,000 deaths per year. Now, tell me why someone would want to hunt such a magnificent animal?

I’ll tell you. There are three main reasons why humans hunt sharks: their fins, their internal organs and their skin. We’re going to focus on the internal organs. Other than shark fin soup and leather, products that are derived from the outside of a shark, humans hunt sharks for the oil that is secreted by the shark’s liver.

Known colloquially as squalene, shark liver oil is a highly coveted ingredient in many lotions, foundations, eye shadows, lipsticks and other cosmetic products of the same variety. Squalene has properties that moisturize the skin but do not make it oily; it also has abilities to decrease fine-lines and wrinkles in the skin. Squalene is desired in cosmetics because of our society’s unhealthy attachment to youth. Despite our collective desire to retain youth, squalene is not worth the addition of sharks to the endangered species list.

Petitions have been started time and again to show countries the dangers of overfishing sharks and using them specifically for shark fin soup and leather, but one of the main killers of sharks is right under our noses, and other than cosmetic companies coming to the conclusion to change on their own, they receive very little backlash from this thoughtless massacre for human beautification. This is a complex dilemma in my eyes because of this generation’s desire to save “cute” animals from the claws of gross cosmetic testing, but in all my research I have not heard of people fighting for sharks to be saved from the same cruelties. Is this not a country that strives for lack of judgement of beauty, as it attempts to move away from societal norms? Shouldn’t we be fighting for all those without a voice and not just the ones we cuddle when we desire unconditional affection?

Keep an eye out for what you’re actually putting on your skin, because your $20 eye cream could be costing multiple sharks their lives. Instead, look for lotions that use plant alternatives—which is actually better quality and allegedly costs less to manufacture, according to the Rob Stewart Sharkwater Foundation. Additionally, it also saves the lives of creatures that unknowingly save our lives just by existing.

No creature deserves to be harmed for the self-centered desires of people who only want to beautify their outsides. Perhaps beautify your insides by being a good person and fighting for the sharks. You may think they’re scary, but remember, vending machines kill more people than sharks annually, so what should we really be afraid of?

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