• Caroline Donough

Love Beauty and Planet: Worth the Cruelty-Free Hype?



If you had read my previous post, you'd know this was coming: a review of Love Beauty and Planet. Yeah, I know, I'm late to the party... Love Beauty and Planet was launched, what, two years ago? Well, in my defense, this review was requested by a reader only recently, and as Lily Collins' character said at the end of the film Love, Rosie, "Better late than never," so...


And besides, since I needed to get a new bottle of shampoo anyway, I thought, "Why not?"


I kind of remember there being a ton of hype when Love Beauty and Planet first launched in Malaysia around 2019. It was like every major beauty magazine and social media influencer up and down the country was tripping all over each other trying to get first dibs on this fresh new brand being marketed as cruelty-free, vegan and planet-friendly. It was all the rage.


The first time I saw the brand in stores was at Guardian. And I remember looking it over and thinking to myself, "Whoa, gorgeous packaging. Very Laura Ashley." I almost, almost bought the shampoo, but didn't. "But why?" you ask. "It's certified cruelty-free. That's what you like."


I'll explain why in a minute, and then you'll understand. But first, let me get warmed up.


Let's begin with a few key points, shall we?

  • Love Beauty and Planet is certified cruelty-free by PETA and vegan by Vegan Action.

  • The brand is owned by Unilever.

  • Its product line consists of shampoos and conditioners for different hair types, as well as body washes and body lotions for specific skin needs.

  • It comes in five different collections: Argan Oil & Lavendar, Tea Tree Oil & Vetiver, Murumuru Butter & Rose, Coconut Water & Mimosa Flower and Coconut Oil & Ylang Ylang. Each collection is infused with an active ingredient and a fragrance - the clue is in the name!

  • The bottles are made from 100% post consumer recycled material and are recyclable. But not the caps and pumps; according to the brand's website, they're working on that.

  • At first, I was just going to buy a bottle of shampoo to try, but I ended up purchasing the conditioner as well. Since it's lockdown and all, I shopped online via Unilever's Official Store on Lazada.

  • Price I paid: RM48.00 for a shampoo-and-conditioner set (plus RM3.50 for delivery), which works out to RM24.00 per bottle - cheaper than in stores. The set I purchased came with a very pretty Love Beauty and Planet gift box (see pictures!). The gift box may only be available while stocks last, though, so do take note of that if ordering.

  • Content: 400ml per bottle.

  • Delivery: Via LEL Express. Arrived two working days after I placed the order.


I have to admit I haven't exactly been lavishing my tresses with much care in recent months, (and unfortunately it shows... ugh!), so I chose the Coconut Oil & Ylang Ylang shampoo and conditioner for damaged hair.


So what are my thoughts after using them for three weeks?


Well, if my hair could talk, it would probably say, "I feel amazing. Renewed almost. As though I've just spent the last three weeks at a spa and had the oiled hands of a masseuse knead away the split ends of my soul. Bliss... 😊"


OK, maybe it wouldn't say that, but you get the idea. 😁


Jokes aside, though, I'm noticing a slight improvement in my hair. I'm not expecting any sort of quick fix, though, and neither should you if you're thinking about buying this shampoo and conditioner. By all means, buy them if you want to. Just keep in mind that like any product out there, they won't perform miracles. Results, if any, should happen over time and may vary from person to person.


Let me also just mention that the brand uses a patent-pending, fast-rinse technology for its conditioners, which they say helps to save some water with every shower. Personally, I find it rinses off maybe just a bit faster (??? 🤷🏻‍♀️), but nothing groundbreaking, and I'm really not sure how much water I'm saving, if at all any. I guess I'll find out when my water bill arrives! I'm all for the eco-friendly idea behind it, though... as long as it lives up to its promise.


So do I like this Coconut Oil & Ylang Ylang shampoo and conditioner for damaged hair? I'd say yes. They seem to be delivering on performance, plus they smell nice.


That said, I'm quite bummed that Love Beauty and Planet is owned by a company that's not cruelty-free - Unilever. That's right, people. Unilever is not cruelty-free despite what they say on their website. Out of the roughly 400 brands they own, only a handful have recently been approved by PETA, i.e. Dove, Simple, St Ives, Suave and Love Home and Planet (a range of home care products, not to be confused with Love Beauty and Planet). It's a start, yeah. But that's like a few crumbs out of a whole pie. 😠



If you take a look at Unilever's animal testing position statement, their cruelty-free position is contradictory at best. On one hand, they say they don't test on animals. OK, fine. Maybe it's true they don't. But on the other hand, they're choosing to sell many of their brands in China where animal testing on imported cosmetics is mandatory. Sure, the Chinese FDA has since 2014 relaxed the rules somewhat, but that's by no means an abolition of the rules. And sure, Unilever is working towards regulatory change, but until that change is enacted, the guys in blue can still meanwhile order them to submit samples of their formulations for testing if and when they deem it necessary. And Unilever would have no choice but to comply. Or pull out of China. Let's be honest... they're not going to pull out of China.


Though Love Beauty and Planet isn't sold in China (not to my knowledge at this point in time anyway), some would argue that the brand is just Unilever's crafty attempt at greenwashing. I'll admit the shampoo and conditioner I bought are pretty decent overall, and I quite like the brand's ethos. However, some of the brand's sustainability goals do sound a bit hollow. And the fact that the brand is owned by Unilever is a huge minus for me.


If you'll indulge me for just a bit, I'd like to repeat something I've written before, which is this:


To be considered cruelty-free, a brand or company must fulfill ALL the following criteria:

  • They don't test their finished products on animals.

  • They don't test their formulations on animals.

  • They don't test their raw ingredients on animals.

  • They don't buy their raw ingredients from suppliers that test on animals.

  • They don't allow any third party to test on animals on their behalf.

  • They don't sell their products in markets that test on animals.


No cosmetics company can credibly purport to be cruelty-free if they fail to satisfy even just one of these criteria... and therein lies the problem with Unilever.


Now do you see why earlier I said I was disinclined?


Since more and more people are choosing to shop ethically these days, a lot of brands and companies are claiming to be cruelty-free (even if they're not) to attract more customers. So how do we, as consumers, tell if they're legit? CERTIFICATION. It's the only way for a brand or company to be truly transparent about their production processes and cruelty-free status. Only three organisations in the world issue cruelty-free certification: Leaping Bunny, Choose Cruelty Free and PETA. Out of the three, Leaping Bunny is considered the gold standard in cruelty-free certification as it has the most stringent criteria of all. This is followed by Choose Cruelty Free in my opinion, and then only PETA, which happens to be the most lenient of the three. But don't just take my word for it. See for yourself:


Leaping Bunny's criteria:

https://www.leapingbunny.org/about/corporate-standard-compassion-animals-standard


Choose Cruelty Free's criteria:

https://www.choosecrueltyfree.org.au/cruelty-free-accreditation


PETA's criteria:

https://www.peta.org/about-peta/how-is-a-company-certified-as-cruelty-free



I'll wrap up with this:

  • The Coconut Oil & Ylang Ylang shampoo and conditioner I bought are quite good in my opinion.

  • The brand, Love Beauty and Planet, is certified cruelty-free by PETA.

  • But the parent company, Unilever, is not cruelty-free.



Note: Prices, where mentioned, are correct at time of writing.

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