Somewhere along the line, Shark Week crossed the line from strange, nerdy gimmick to widely anticipated program. Once a year, the Discovery channel devotes one week to everything sharks. In keeping with the theme, we had to take a look at what impact sharks have had on the beauty industry.

Squalane: People probably wouldn’t consider it but there just may be a little bit of shark in some of your beauty products. Squalane is an emollient and a solid moisturizer that can heal cracked skin fast. It can either be sourced from plants or shark livers. The latter is preferred as it requires shorter processing times and produces a higher yield than its olive oil counterpart as Marta noted. Despite some major brands like L’Oreal and Unilever ceasing the use of the product for wildlife’s sake, other brands continue to encourage the hunting of sharks in order to get to their livers. If a product you’re using contains squalane, contact the company in question to find out where they are getting their squalane from. It’s useless to use proper cosmetics if they’re coming at the cost of sharks.

Shark Oil: Shark oil just may be the new snake oil. The stuff is generally regarded for its fatty acids which can aid in brain function, but then I began to read about it being able to do much more. Healing wounds and inflammations? That seems a little far fetched but I decided to go with it. Patients, however, have claimed that shark liver oil can cure serious diseases, such as AIDS, arthritis, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, and psoriasis.  I understand that sharks themselves are pretty rugged creatures, even having very low rates of cancer, but rubbing shark oil on our bodies is probably not the best way to improve our health. In fact it might even hurt; using shark oil instead of actual treatment could have a bad outcome. Think about it, if shark oil was truly a medical breakthrough, wouldn't doctors be prescribing it left and right?

Shark Fin Soup: Since the 18th century, shark fin soup has been around. It is what it sounds like: the fins of a shark in some type of soupy broth that is most likely chicken stock. Like with the shark oil, benefits from shark fin soup are supposed to include bone, kidney, hair, skin, and nails. It is believed that collagen from the fish tails is meant to aid in skin and hair health. Unfortunately, there is practically no nutritional health from shark fin soup and you’d get more health benefits if you ate a bowl of vegetable soup and took a multivitamin. It would probably taste much better, too, as shark fin has NO flavor. In fact, there may even be bad outcomes of shark fin soup. Large fish like sharks have high mercury levels which can prove disastrous for your health. Pregnant women and children are advised to avoid it. Men often eat the soup to boost their sexual performance but ironically enough, those high levels of mercury can cause sterility in their reproductive glands. And women that eat it for beauty should beware that mercury poisoning could mean the end of your hair, teeth, and nails. The real crime is the waste - sharks are often harvested for their fins and dumped back into the ocean. A small yield for such a large animal. While some may liken the harvesting of sharks to cattle or poultry, it should be noted that we don't farm raise sharks and control of their numbers. They are wild creatures that we pluck from the ocean. Killing them off will have an impact on our ecosystem, so avoid any shark fin soup.

The fact of the matter is that the beauty industry doesn’t need sharks, and that’s a good thing because it doesn’t make sense to kill off a perfectly good animal in the pursuit of beauty. It just seems to be a misunderstanding, the way people thought “snake oil” could help cure you from illness and the way people use monkey bones in odd medicine. Hopefully the previously mentioned practices can be put to an end and we can leave the sharks alone.