The Body Shop, founded in the mid 1970s, is a beauty company that offers vegetable-based products and a strong ethical mission. It is the second largest cosmetic franchise in the world. The Body Shop emphasizes its stance against animal testing and for fair trade and promotes positive environmental and social change through its products and community investment.
In 1976, Anita Roddick founded The Body Shop in Great Britain. Currently, The Body Shop has over 2,400 stores in 61 countries, and offers 1,200 products. In 1986, the company formed an alliance with Greenpeace, joining the group’s campaign to save the whales. Greenpeace and The Body Shop ended their alliance a few years later after London Greenpeace published a treatise criticizing The Body Shop for prioritizing corporate values over community. The Body Shop responded with a leaflet extolling the ways in which it promotes environmental responsibility. The company rejoined with Greenpeace in 2001 to promote clean energy. In 1990, the Body Shop Foundation was formed for the purpose of providing financial resources for nonprofit activist groups working for the protection of human rights and the environment. In March 2006, L’Oréal bought The Body Shop for $1.1 billion. Animal rights groups protested the takeover, since other products produced by the parent company are alleged to be tested on animals; L’Oréal, however, states that the company has not tested on animals since 1989.
The Body Shop takes a stance against animal testing. The company’s slogan reads: “Our products are not tested on animals, never have been and never will be.” Critics note that the actual policy on animal testing is to use ingredients that were tested on animals before 1991 (when their policy was introduced) or ingredients that were tested on animals after 1991 for non-cosmetic reasons. However, the company insists that its products are cruelty free. The Body Shop was the first international company to be recognized under the Humane Cosmetics Standard, sponsored by the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV ). While The Body Shop carries a range of personal care products, including lotions, cleansers, and fragrances for the home, all of its products have been 100 percent vegetarian as of June 2007. Conducting research on natural preservatives, the company is working toward a goal of having 80 percent of its products free from artificial preservatives.
The Body Shop has a long-established program called Community Trade, which is the company’s own fair trading network. The company does business with more than 30 community suppliers in 20 countries for its ingredients. By purchasing community-produced ingredients, the Body Shop supports fair trade, providing a fair price for community-produced ingredients. As of 2008, 65 percent of the company’s products contain Community Trade ingredients. In addition to securing product ingredients from such community partners, the Body Shop has offered handcrafted items supplied by small communities. The first such product was a foot massager developed by a community in southern India. Critics note that the company’s actual payments to such communities resulted in less than one percent of its costs.