It’s that time of year again, when the whole country turns its attention to our ocean friends, sharks. Of course, at Biossance we always have our minds on these fascinating creatures because our plant-based squalane is saving thousands of them every day. Want to learn how? Then read on.
Savvy skincare lovers know that deep sea sharks have historically been killed for their squalene-rich livers. Similar to the horrific practice of finning (cutting off a shark’s fins and returning it to the ocean to die), the market for shark squalene has led to the practice of livering. Even though the demand for shark squalene has been greatly reduced, this still continues today and has caused many species to become vulnerable due to overfishing.
You might notice we’re referring to shark squalene, with an E. As a quick refresher, squalene is what’s naturally found in shark livers and humans alike. Squalane is the form of squalene used in cosmetics because it’s shelf-stable. Squalene serves a different purpose for sharks than in does for humans. At deep sea levels, sharks rely on their livers made up of roughly 80% squalene for buoyancy. In humans, squalene is one of the things that keeps our skin hydrated and supple. However, the amount of squalene in our skin depletes over time. That’s why squalane is such a coveted ingredient in skincare—it helps restore some of what’s lost as we age.
Over the past decade, major cosmetics companies in North America and Europe have turned to plant-based sources for squalane instead of shark squalene, largely thanks to consumer outcry to save the sharks. Biossance’s parent company, Amyris, has been one of the leaders in helping to reduce the need for this barbaric practice. Using biotechnology, we pioneered a way to sustainably derive squalane from sugarcane. This methodology makes up about 30% of the market for all sources of squalane globally, saving an estimated 2-3 million sharks annually.
There’s still more work to do, as shark squalene still makes up roughly 15% of the market globally. Help us spread the word about plant-based squalane from sugarcane instead of shark squalene by sharing this blog post and our other shark-related posts on Instagram and Facebook later this week. Together we can make a difference and save the sharks.