Since founding The Beauty Spyglass almost two years ago, I’ve learned so much about the beauty industry I buy into. In particular, the ethics behind some of my favourite brands and why I’m drawn in by pretty packaging without stopping to look at the bigger picture.
Blogging has made me much more conscious of brand choice, ethical stance and what I’m putting on my skin.
Recently, I became interested in the use of palm oil in everyday beauty and so I thought it would be only right to share a little more about it and the damaging effects its growth is having on our planet.
Being a conscious beauty enthusiast, I often find myself checking ingredient lists for palm oil, but why is it such an issue?
Here’s why – touted as “dirty palm oil” and derived from fruit grown on the West African oil palm, this widely used and unsustainable vegetable oil has a lot to answer for. Contributing to mass deforestation, displacement and destruction of indigenous settlements, violation of human rights and is linked directly to climate change…
Did you know – trees capture and store carbon dioxide naturally but when felled and burned they release carbon gas into the atmosphere, accounting for fifteen per cent of total, annual global warming.
Not to mention the loss of endangered species including the Borneo elephant and the Sumatran tiger, pushed ever closer to extinction. Six-thousand Orangutans are killed each year as their native home is bulldozed and burned to make way for oil palm growth. Surely this can’t continue?
As it stands, eighty-five per cent of globally exported palm oil is currently produced in Indonesia and Malaysia. Rain Forests are disappearing daily, with a football pitch sized area being cleared every twenty-five seconds and replaced with oil palm plantations. A massive sixty-six million tons of the stuff is produced annually to keep up with huge demand from the food, fuel and beauty industries, turning large profits for those involved with its production and sale.
I was shocked to read that oil palm plantations now cover twenty-seven million hectares of the world’s surface and is one of the worst environmental disasters of the 21st century.
Seventy-two per cent of palm oil usage is for processed or unhealthy foods and hides in over half of the food in your local supermarket. A further eighteen per cent is used within the beauty industry and the remaining ten per cent can be found in Biofuel.
There is a glimmer of hope – According to Green Palm, forty per cent of the worlds palm oil producers are now members of the RSPO (Roundtable of sustainable palm oil) and are certified to meet specific criteria. It’s also worth mentioning that some oil palm plantations are growing on land which has previously been used to grow coffee etc and has not been cleared specifically for oil palm. The message seems to be getting through for brands choosing to use certified RSPO palm oil, which in turn, will encourage others to hopefully follow suit.
What does the future hold?
With big names such as Unilever, Colgate and Palmolive promising to stop using unsustainable palm oil by 2020, it seems common sense is beginning to prevail. However, reports suggest these companies have made little effort to stay on track and may not meet the deadline. We will have to wait and see.
Is there a viable alternative…
There could be! Researchers at the University of Bath have developed a way of chemically engineering an oily yeast which can mimic the most sought-after properties of palm oil. With a yeast which has been used in the South African wine industry for many years, it’s believed an eco-friendly alternative is in sight! Source: Green Planet.
So, it begs the question, Is the use of palm oil in our everyday beauty products really necessary?
The answer is no, but it’s cost-effective for the brands which continue to use it, and for its purpose, it performs well. Holding colour – particularly when used in lip products, it’s pretty much tasteless and resists melting in high temperatures, so it’s easy to see why it’s so popular within the beauty industry.
My Final thoughts: Realistically, we probably all own and use products containing unsustainable palm oil, albeit unwittingly. That said, If you naturally choose an ethical approach to beauty, you may find less wide-spread use in your products. conversely, if you use a diverse range of beauty and self-care you’re more likely to come across it in your everyday go-to’s.
Just be mindful that palm oil has two-hundred alternative names so you’ll need to have your wits about you when looking at labels. Check the link above to see if you recognise any of its pseudonyms.
It’s also worth pointing out, with such a huge loss of wildlife, along with the threat to endangered species, the cruelty aspect can’t be ignored. If your makeup and/or skincare contains palm oil, essentially it’s not cruelty-free.
I’m compassionate by nature and really struggle to comprehend the devastating effects palm oil production causes. By becoming a little more conscious of what’s in our day-to-day products, we can stop buying into the palm oil industry and instead support ethical, earth-friendly brands such as PHB Ethical Beauty, Barefaced Beauty and Bloomtown which all have a fabulous range of certified palm oil free products available.
Look out for the RSPO certification on your products, this way, you know the oil is produced sustainably and you’ll not be supporting the dirty palm oil industry.
Also, read about The Body Shop Colour Crush lipsticks I’ve tried. These are produced with certified sustainable palm oil and are cruelty-free.
I’d love to know your stance on palm oil. Do you choose sustainably produced everyday beauty products? Let’s discuss!