Why We Love The Body Shop: An Ode To A British Favourite

The Body Shop / © The Body Shop International PLC

There aren’t many British beauty brands that evoke the same level of nostalgia as The Body Shop . From its iconic fragrances to fruity lip balms, bright coloured makeup and indulgent body butters, it has remained a staple on our high streets for nearly 40 years.

Launched by ‘eco-warrior’ Dame Anita Roddick in Brighton, 1976, a pioneer in the ‘green’ beauty space, she wanted to bring awareness to ethically-sourced, sustainable, and cruelty-free products, believing the beauty industry could be a force for good around the world. She worked tirelessly to spread her message to the mass market, until she passed away in 2007. The brand has continued her legacy focusing on fair trade deals and initiatives, becoming a B Corp, and recently announcing all of its products are now 100 percent vegan .

Unfortunately, as the green beauty market has evolved and become saturated , The Body Shop has struggled to stay on top. Especially in the last five years after it was sold by French giant L’Oreal to Natura, a Brazilian beauty company, in 2017 for £880 million, and once again in November 2023 to investment group Aurelius, which has just announced it will be calling in the administrators.

Why it has not been able to hold the attention of the ethically-conscious shopper is still up for debate. But its inability to grab the ‘Sephora Kids’ generation may also have played a major factor. Whilst tweens and teens are begging their parents for bronzing drops, and retinols, they have missed out on the rite of beauty passage which involves simple ingredients, fruity scents and intoxicating perfumes – instead jumping straight to premium products and fancy packaging.

Regardless of the reasoning, The Body Shop will forever live in our minds as a positive option on the high street for those who want to make ethical, sustainable, and cruelty-free choices. Which is why it feels even more upsetting to think this latest run of financial difficulties could result in yet another British institution, like Topshop, leaving our high street forever.

To celebrate The Body Shop’s legacy, POPSUGAR UK team reveal its best memories and products from the brand.

“It was my 13th Birthday, in 1996, a group of my friends and I were going to Planet Hollywood for dinner. Before we boarded our transport for the night, a rather bougee minibus, one of the girls handed me my birthday present, suggesting I open it before we left. As I ripped the packaging I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was a much coveted The Body Shop Bronzing Makeup Kit. My first ever makeup products and quite probably the start of an obsession with beauty, which continued for the next three decades. I can still picture the three eyeshadow shades and brown, glitter-fleeked lip gloss now. I couldn’t wait to get it on my face. At the time, The Body Shop was seen as a teenage-friendly destination, with its vegan, simple formulas, it received the seal of approval from parents up and down the country. It felt innocent and as far away from the current tween/teen trend we are seeing now.

My love for the brand didn’t end there, I stand by the Vitamin C Glow Boosting Intense Moisturiser (£22) as one of the best for brightening dull skin and one of my most recommended products of all time remains its Camomile Sumpstous Cleansing Butter (£12) – an OG in the market!” – Associate Editor, Lauren Ezekiel

“The Body Shop’s White Musk (£20) is a scent that will always remind me of my mum, a hoarder in her own right, she has about two bottles left, but it’ll no doubt find its way on her Mother’s Day, Christmas and Birthday wish lists. At home, we love the smell, since she’s made it so homey, cosy and associated with the holidays.” – Editorial Co-ordinator, Lauren Gordon

“The smell of the Peppermint Invigorating Foot Cream (£12) instantly takes me back to DIY pamper days with my mum when I was growing up. After we’d soaked our feet in a washing up bowl and added a coat of Rimmel 60 seconds to our toes, we’d always finish with a generous layer of the creamy pink lotion which left our feet feeling totally refreshed.” – Senior Content Producer, Chloe Dunn.

“My first introduction to skincare and bodycare was at The Body Shop. At 11-years-old, I saved up my pound coins in my piggy bank for a trip to my local brance. I remember vividly the sweet scents that filled the shop. The first product I ever bought was the Mango Body Butter (£7). I soon became obsessed with the scents and ended up buying every single body butter in the collection – from coconut to strawberry!” – Associate Editor, Aaliyah Harry.

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