A sample jar of the Body Shop’s Coconut Body Butter fell out of my wife’s Marie Claire a few months back. In a way I have grown up with the Body Shop. I used to live not too far from Anita Roddick’s first shop back in the seventies when I was a teenager and I have taken an interest in its development ever since. I have never worked for them, but people I have worked with have and I have heard a fair bit about what has gone on in the company over the years.
I have never been particularly impressed by the professed green credentials of the brand. They aren’t worse than any other mass market personal care operation, but it is hard to put your finger on any way that they are better. Their formulations use the same set of chemicals that everyone else uses. Their rolling programme on animal testing meant that they did not apply any effective pressure on raw material suppliers to stop animal testing. But I always thought that their products were quite good: nice pleasant fragrances and generally quite effective. And of their range of formulations I also reckoned their range of body butters to be the jewel in their range. These were good moisturisers, probably because they had a very high oil content and also they used neat unprocessed lanolin which I think is one of the best moisturisers you can get your hands on. (Note – I don’t actually have a pack so I am writing from memory here.)
I am not short of moisturisers so it has taken a while to get round to looking at it. But I had a bit of dry skin so I picked it up for a bit of quick releif. To my amazement they seem to have changed the formulation. The water content seems to be higher. The lanolin has been replaced with lanolin alcohol. Easier to process no doubt, but not with anything like the same effect. And I don’t know where they found the fragrance, but it wasn’t very nice. In fact it was downright virulent. It wasn’t so much tropical paradise as viable alternative to pepper spray. I have been wondering what effect the takeover of the Body Shop by L’Oreal was going to have. I think I am beginning to see.