Superdrug. A cruelty-free shoppers dream. On your high street, reasonably priced, against animal testing, clearly labelled as suitable for vegans. Nothing to worry about. Or is there?
While hunting down palm oil free skincare I spent a couple of months emailing Superdrug to try and get answers about their ingredients in just four products. They found it very difficult to help.
I have a few Superdrug items and after checking against Palm Oil Investigations’ ingredients list I realised they all had potential palm oil ingredients. Ingredients included Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Glyceryl Oleate, Glycerin, Propylene Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Cetearyl alcohol, and Ethylhexyl palmitate.
I originally emailed on December 28th 2015 asking whether these were palm oil derived and if so, were they sustainably sourced? A month later on January 23rd an email confirmed that some Superdrug own brand products do contain palm oil derivatives. Unfortunately, not whether the products I asked about did, or which ingredients were, or any idea as to where it comes from.
A day later they clarified that:
As well as containing conflict palm oil derived ingredients, Superdrug apparently still use the extremely harmful microbeads in their facial scrub.
What are plastic microbeads?
Microbeads are really tiny plastic particles, usually smaller than two millimeters. The composition of microbeads can vary and often includes polyethylene (PE) or polypropylene (PP), Polyethylene Glycol (PEG), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polymethlyl methacrylate (PMMA) or nylon. Bottom line, it’s all plastic!
Check out this wonderful short animated video from
Story of Stuff
on the impact of microbeads
If you’re unsure whether a product contains microbeads, check ingredients labels!
For example, the Superdrug Tea Tree Exfoliating Scrub (not listed as vegan online) cites walnut shell granules as its exfoliant, and the Naturally Radiant Micro Polish Scrub (suitable for vegans) advertises blueberry seeds are doing the work, but the ingredient lists also include polyethylene as the third/fourth item. I’ve emailed to ask for confirmation this is microbeads.
Sometimes the ingredients list isn’t event clear. The B. Refined Exfoliating Cleanser doesn’t state microbeads on the website description, or include these standard ingredient names, but the tube itself says “microbeads buff away old skin cells”. I’ve had to email to ask what these are made of.
You could take a punt on the Refreshing or Oil-Balancing Facial Scrubs as these promise ‘100% natural exfoliants’, but they do still probably contain conflict palm oil.
If you’re looking for palm oil free skincare and truly natural exfoliants, check out my other posts. Also I highly recommend Mica Day’s blog and she has a post here on microbead alternatives.
I hope in future we can trust in these ‘cruelty-free’ brands more without having to interrogate each individual ingredient.