9 December 2014

Why I Limit Palm Oil + A Palm Oil Free Soap Edit

Palm oil is natural and non-toxic, but it's an ingredient that brings up a lot of environmental and ethical concerns.  Due to its popular use in the food industry, cosmetics, detergents, and even biofuel, global production of palm oil has doubled in the last ten years, and according to the World Wildlife Fund, palm oil demand is expected to double again by 2020. (source)  To meet this demand, large areas of tropical forests are being cleared to make space for palm plantations.  This deforestation destroys critical habitats for endangered animal species and has even lead to the eviction of forest-dwelling people.  The palm oil industry is also linked to human rights violations, climate change, soil erosion, and air, soil and water pollution.  

You can find "sustainable" palm oil, certified through the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), but there's some controversy around this as well.  According to Greenpeace, there's very little to stop companies from having part of their operations certified by the RSPO while they continue to use unsustainable means in other palm plantations elsewhere (source), giving the illusion of much greater sustainability than is real.  There have also been instances of both child labour and forced labour discovered on RSPO certified plantations. (source)

Personally, I don't think it's feasible for me to completely eliminate palm oil at this point, but I do make an effort to minimize my consumption.  I'm a diligent label reader - of both food and personal care products - which allows me to always make informed choices.  Generally I allow palm oil in makeup items and some palm oil derivatives in skin and body care, but I don't use products that contain large quantities of this ingredient.  

Bar soap is one of the largest body care culprits for palm oil - both because it's less costly than a lot of other oils and because it creates a firm, long lasting bar of soap - but it's one product that I refuse to compromise on.  And there's no need: there are plenty of lovely natural soaps made without a trace of palm oil.  (See below for some great examples!)  Currently many of these offerings are from smaller, artisan companies, but I'm hopeful that we'll see more large companies taking notice of this issue in the future too.  


1.  Meow Meow Tweet Fennel Orange Soap
2.  Tierra Mia Organics Gentleman's Soap
3.  SoapGirl Wine + Roses Soap
4.  Green Beaver Lavender Sunflower Soap
5.  Vice and Velvet Jewel Soap Sampler
6.  Ella's Botanicals Skin Soother Bar
7.  Aquarian Bath Neem Olive Oil Soap
8.  Organic Fiji Tea Tree Spearmint Soap
9.  By Valenti Organics Almond Coconut Soap
10. Hugo Naturals Vanilla & Sweet Orange Soap
11. Acure Mint Cookie + Omega 7 Soap
12. Etta + Billie Earl Grey Soap

Is palm oil an ingredient you're concerned about?  Are there other palm oil free soaps you'd recommend?

Contains affiliate links.

20 comments:

  1. good work Caitie!! haha thanks, my soap research will be easy with this list now :) i avoid this oil too :) xx

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    1. Thanks Julie! I'm glad you found some new soaps to look into :)

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  2. I'm the same as you try to limit my consumption as I am concerned about the environmental impact. Avoiding it in foods can be a struggle, I see it almost everywhere.

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    1. It does crop up in a ton of packaged foods! I haven't been seeing it as much in organic/natural brands as I used to though, so maybe companies are starting to clue in :)

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  3. I also try to avoid it, but sometimes that's super hard because unfortunately it's everywhere! :( Great post and a nice selection of soaps<3 xx

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    1. It's definitely a hard one to avoid. I mentioned palm oil in a post a long time ago and I remember someone commenting that once you start looking for it, you see it everywhere...which is SO true! It's kind of amazing how many different products it ends up in.

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  4. I did not know this about palm oil. Thanks for the info!!

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    1. My pleasure! Happy to hear you learned something new :)

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  5. Love this post! I try to avoid this oil too :)

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  6. Thanks so much for including our Neem Olive oil Aquarian Bath soap. We are also concerned about deforestation and palm oil, which is why we don´t use it in any of our soaps. I have one customer in particular who shopped around for a long time and also tried making her own palm free soaps. She tells me that our Rose geranium Lavender soaps are the best palm free soaps and she buys about 20 of them a year. The formula is a little different that all of our other palm free formulas because it has both Organic cocoa butter and raw unrefined shea butter for making a very hard and long lasting bar.http://www.aquarianbath.com/lavender-rose-soap-vegan-geranium.html

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    1. My pleasure :) I've had some difficulty finding palm oil free soaps that are solid and long lasting as well...some of them just get really melty or gummy right away. Will definitely have to check that one out in the future!

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  7. Yeah, I'm pretty careful about it as well. I'm Honduran and my family can track the changes they've seen. What was once banana plantations have been switched over to African oil palm. Neither of these systems has tended to empower local farmers and deforestation is still a major problem.

    If a brand shows me the receipts as to their palm oil's suppliers (and their sustainability/conservation efforts), I am willing to consider.

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    1. Must be interesting being able to witness the transition first hand! It's crazy how exploitative these systems are to local farmers and that we just let it go on.

      If a company could prove sustainability, that would be fine with me too, but I wouldn't even know what kind of proof to ask for! Which is why I do my best to just minimize use overall :)

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  8. I really enjoyed this post and shared it straight away after reading but only just now have had time to comment! Thanks so much for going into depth about this 'issue' with Palm oil. I am quite aware of it but no where near as much as I should be. Lovely post, well done :-)
    Rach xx

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    1. Thanks Rachel! I think it's an important issue to consider, especially since so many people (and companies) often believe they're purchasing a much more sustainable product than they really are.

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  9. I completely agree with you and do try and limit the products I buy with Palm oil in it. Not as easy as you expect as it is in so many things. Very well written post and some lovely alternatives x

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    1. Thanks Karen! I was reading recently that something like 40-50% of the products (food, cosmetics and cleaning products) in the average household contain palm oil. I can believe it too - it really does crop up in everything!

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  10. amazing post, very well written. I'm always trying to avoid palm but, as many others have mentioned, it can be difficult. I also like Ground Soap and On a Branch Soap (both Canadian).

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    1. Thanks Nicole! As I was writing this I knew I was going to leave someone out, but I can't believe I forgot Ground Soap! They're one of my favorites too. Will have to check out On a Branch as well :)

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