• Caroline Donough

Love Beauty and Planet: Worth the Hype?

If you read my last 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 fairly recently, and as Lily Collins' character said at the end of the movie Love, Rosie, "Better late than never," so...

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

I have to say, though, I nearly passed on this one. I'll explain why in a minute. But first, let's dissect.

I kind of remember there being a ton of buzz when Love Beauty and Planet launched in the country a couple of years ago. It was like every leading beauty magazine and social media influencer up and down the country was giving it major love. It was all really buzzy. The first time I saw the brand in stores was at Guardian, and I remember looking over the bottle and thinking to myself, "Wow. Gorgeous packaging. Very Laura Ashley." I almost, almost bought the shampoo... but didn't.

"But why?" you ask. "It's certified cruelty-free."

Remember I said I almost passed on doing this review? Like I said, I'll explain momentarily, and once I do, you'll see why. Patience. Let me get warmed up first.

OK, let's start with a few key points, shall we?

- In Malaysia, the Love Beauty and Planet range consists of shampoos and conditioners for different hair types, and body washes and body lotions for specific skin needs.

- The brand is certified cruelty-free by PETA and vegan by Vegan Action.

- The brand is owned by Unilever.

- The brand's key feature is that each of its range spotlights a sustainably-sourced signature plant active ingredient like Australian tea tree oil, Moroccan argan oil, Amazonian murumuru butter and Filipino coconut water and oil, as well as an ethically-sourced aromatic fragrance oil to indulge the senses like French lavender, Bulgarian rose, Comoros ylang ylang, Haitian vetiver and Moroccan mimosa.

- 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 the shampoo, 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. In my opinion, pretty reasonable. Cheaper than in stores. (I picked the set that came with a very pretty free gift box - see pictures! The gift box may only be available while stocks last, so do take note of that.)

- Content: 400ml per bottle.

- Delivery: Pretty fast. Two working days from the day I placed my order. Came via Pos Laju.

I have to confess I haven't exactly been showering my tresses with much care in weeks, so I chose the Hope and Repair shampoo-and-conditioner duo for my damaged locks. The main ingredient is coconut oil and the scent is ylang ylang.

So after three weeks of using these two products, what are my thoughts?

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, this coconut and ylang ylang shampoo and conditioner are good. I'm not expecting them to give me any sort of quick fix, though, and neither should you if you're thinking about buying them. 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 should be forthcoming, but not overnight. From what I can see, there's some improvement in my hair, so that's a good sign.

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 does seem to rinse off a bit faster, but nothing particularly groundbreaking, and I'm really not sure how much water I'm actually saving. I guess I'll find out when my water bill arrives! I'm all for the eco-friendly idea behind it, though.

Overall, I like this shampoo and conditioner. They deliver on performance and 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. Yes, Unilever is working towards regulatory change, but until that change is legally established, the Chinese government can still in the meantime order them to take their products off the shelves and/or submit samples of their formulations for testing on animals 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 I quite like the brand's ethos. And the shampoo and conditioner I bought are pretty decent overall. But some of the brand's sustainability intentions as listed on their website do sound a bit hollow. And the fact that the brand is owned by Unilever is a definite minus.

Now do you see why I almost passed on this one?

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 that fails to satisfy even one of these criteria can credibly purport to be cruelty-free.

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, know if they're legit? CERTIFICATION - that's the only way for a brand or company to be truly transparent about their manufacturing processes and cruelty-free status. Only three organisations in the world certify cruelty-free products, and they are Leaping Bunny, Choose Cruelty Free and PETA. Out of the three, Leaping Bunny is the gold standard in cruelty-free certification as it has the most stringent criteria; followed by Choose Cruelty Free in my opinion; and then only PETA, which is the most lenient. But don't take my word for it. See for yourself:

Leaping Bunny's criteria:


Choose Cruelty Free's criteria:


PETA's criteria:


I'll wrap up with this:

- The shampoo and conditioner I bought are good.

- 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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