What's the deal with Palm Oil?
Have you been wondering why 'Palm Oil' has a bad rap and is often included on a list of ingredients to avoid? With a harmless name that sounds natural, the mention of Palm Oil doesn't immediately ring alarm bells, but, it should. We're taking a closer look at why Palm Oil is associated with
What is Palm Oil?
Odorless, colorless and with a long shelf life, palm oil is a product formulator’s dream. From moisturizing creams to lip balms, this ingredient is found in many popular types of beauty products, and its use is not limited to the beauty industry. In fact, it is estimated globally that we each consume around 8 kilograms of Palm Oil per year! But, despite its widespread use, Palm Oil remains one of the major culprits of deforestation.
Why is Palm Oil popular in cosmetics?
So, let’s breakdown why palm oil is so popular in the beauty industry. The main reason is that it's an extremely effective moisturizer. It's rich in fatty acids and vitamins, making it ideal for nourishing the skin. Palm oil is also easily absorbed into the skin, which makes it a popular ingredient in many body lotions, creams, cleansers, shampoos, and many other beauty products. So far, so good, right?
It also has a long shelf life, making it an ideal ingredient for beauty products that need to be stored for long periods of time. Another reason for its popularity is that it's incredibly affordable. Compared to other oils, palm oil is relatively cheap to produce, which makes it a popular choice for cosmetics manufacturers looking to save costs. However, these benefits come at an environmental price.
The dark side of Palm Oil
Palm Oil has come under criticism for its environmental impact. The production of Palm Oil involves clearing vast areas of rainforest and other ecosystems to make room for Palm Oil plantations. This results in the loss of habitats for many species, including orangutans, elephants, and tigers, as well as the release of large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
In addition, the use of pesticides and fertilizers in the production of palm oil can also have a negative impact on the environment. These chemicals can leach into the soil and groundwater, causing contamination and harm to the surrounding ecosystems.
Another issue with Palm Oil is that it's often also produced using unsustainable practices. Many Palm Oil plantations are located in areas where there are limited regulations, which makes it easier for companies to engage in illegal and unethical practices. For example, some companies may engage in forced labor or exploit workers, and others may illegally clear protected areas of forest. Yikes!
So, what can we do to reduce the impact of Palm Oil on the environment?
The first step is to choose beauty products that are Palm Oil-free or made using sustainable Palm Oil. However, choosing products that do not contain Palm Oil might not be so easy as it may not always be obvious from your favorite product’s labels. There are over 200 different names for Palm Oil-based ingredients! Look for products that are certified by organizations such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), which ensures that the Palm Oil used in the product was produced using sustainable practices.
A safe bet is to support companies that are actively working to reduce their impact on the environment. There are loads of amazing brands with sustainability at their core that have started using alternative ingredients such as coconut oil or sunflower oil instead of Palm Oil. By choosing products from these companies, you can help drive the demand for more sustainable ingredients and help reduce the impact of Palm Oil on the environment. One thing is clear, Palm Oil's environmental impact cannot be ignored.