When it comes to skincare ingredients, we've all heard sweeping statements like "palm oil is bad" and "you should really stay away from parabens". And even if we do take that advice in an effort to be the conscious consumers we strive to be, we don't always know why. So in an effort to help you make more informed choices, we've started a series of blog posts to give you the low-down on why certain ingredients have a bad rep, and why you won't see them in our products. Ever.
We recently got an email from a customer - shout out to Candice! - saying how happy she is to find a brand (us) that doesn't use palm oil, because that sh*t is literally EVERYWHERE. Pick up a food or personal care product in your immediate vicinity and you are pretty much guaranteed to see palm oil hidden somewhere in the ingredients list.
So let's start with what it is, and why it's so popular with large corporations. Palm is an edible vegetable oil extracted from - yup, you guessed it! - the fruits of palm trees. And no, we're not talking about coconuts, it's a different variety of palm tree. These are mostly grown in Indonesia and Malaysia, comprising around 85% of production, as well as pockets of West Africa and Northern South America. It is so widely used because it is cheaper to produce (a driving factor for most businesses), super multifunctional, and has less health risks than other trans fats when ingested. And demand is growing, with around 50 million tonnes being consumed every year.
So why the controversy? The production of palm oil is now one of world's leading causes of rainforest destruction. Let that just sink in for a minute. You know the concept of climate change? Yeah, palm oil production is one of the biggest contributors to that. Endangered wildlife, like orangutans, are killed and displaced, while rural communities and indigenous people are often exploited.
But I'm pretty sure I've heard about sustainable palm oil? Well, yes. It's a thing, but only around 18% of palm oil is produced sustainably. That means it's produced using standards that promote ethical human and environmental practices. However, enforcement is questionable at best, and what is believed to be "ethical" is subjective.
So what can we do? It's a tricky one. The palm oil industry provides millions of jobs to people in need, and contributes hugely to the GDPs of Indonesia and Malaysia. If it isn't used in food and personal care items, it will be used in other industries that are even more unregulated. We avoid brands and products that contain palm oil, and we want to educate our customers why you should do the same.
For us as Lulu & Marula, we've made the conscious decision not to use even sustainable certified palm oil in any of our products.
Ingredient names to avoid. Palm oil is a sneaky one, and comes in the following ingredient forms:
- PKO - Palm Kernel Oil
- Palmitate - Vitamin A or Asorbyl Palmitate
- Sodium Laureth Sulphate (can also be from coconut)
- Sodium Lauryl Sulphates (can also be from ricinus oil)
- Sodium dodecyl Sulphate (SDS or NaDS)
- Elaeis Guineensis
- Glyceryl Stearate
- Stearic Acid
- Steareth -2 and Steareth -20
- Sodium Lauryl Sulphate
- Sodium lauryl sulfoacetate (can sometimes be from coconut)
- Hydrated palm glycerides
- Sodium isostearoyl lactylaye (derived from vegetable stearic acid)
- Cetyl palmitate and octyl palmitate
If you want to do more, you can join the Rainforest Action Network to help put pressure on corporations that use unsustainable palm oil.
Image via Pinterest.