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The Dark Side of Palm Oil

What is Palm Oil? Palm oil is a vegetable oil extracted from the fruit of oil palms. It’s natural and used in all sorts of products you use on a daily basis, from food to beauty products–cleansers, shampoos, soaps, and some make-up. Its derivatives are glycerol, fatty acids, or fatty alcohols, ingredients used in products for their emollient or foaming properties. Palm oil is very versatile and with the push towards natural ingredients, many companies have been drawn to it. It adds foam to our toothpaste, moisturizes soaps and it helps to create the lather in our shampoos. 

We have been using palm for decades, but its recent popularity has raised concerns about the sustainability of how it is harvested. It has devastating consequences for the environment. Humans are consuming 50 million tons of palm oil each year, which amounts to an area of the rainforest, the size of 300 football fields, being cleared every hour to make room for palm oil production. It's a major driver of deforestation destroying the habitats of many already endangered species and contributing significantly to the tons of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. 

If you’re like us, you want to know what goes into your body and onto your skin, not just from a safety standpoint, but from a sourcing, sustainability and ethical one too. As we were formulating our products we learned about each ingredient and we made the decision whether it was up to our standards– Palm Oil and its derivatives didn’t pass the test! But as a consumer looking to avoid it, it is no easy task.  Many products containing palm oil are not clearly labeled. Palm Oil and its derivatives are hidden behind many different names in ingredient lists. See below:  

Ingredients: Vegetable Oil, Vegetable Fat, Palm Kernel, Palm Kernel Oil, Palm Fruit Oil, Palmate, Palmitate, Palmolein, Glyceryl, Stearate, Stearic Acid, Elaeis Guineensis, Palmitic Acid, Palm Stearine, Palmitoyl Oxostearamide, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-3, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Kernelate, Sodium Palm Kernelate, Sodium Lauryl Lactylate/Sulphate, Hyrated Palm Glycerides, Etyl Palmitate, Octyl Palmitate, Palmityl Alcohol


If you do find these in your products, check for a RSPO symbol – a production standard that sets best practices for producing and sourcing palm oil, and it has the buy-in of most of the global industry – or another indication that the palm oil used was sourced sustainably. No proof? Our advice, choose a different product!
References: Cosmetic Ingredient Review, WWF, and Rainforest Rescue

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