Palm Oil Free Soap

How to avoid soap brands that use palm oil

Palm oil and palm oil derivatives have become an important component in many soap products. In particular, it is used for its viscosity and as a skin conditioning agent.

In our shopping guide to soap we rated 48 brands on their palm oil policy, and below are the ratings for all of them.

Avoiding palm oil

How a company sources and traces its palm oil products will affect whether it is linked with the clearing of rainforests and peatlands, and the degree to which its products negatively affect local communities, biodiversity and climate change.

Its production destroys rainforests and biodiversity. The plight of orangutans has been a key feature of palm oil campaigns, due to 80% of their habitat being destroyed in the last 20 years and the serious risk they face of extinction in our lifetime.

Social impacts are also wide-ranging, and economic gains are far from evenly distributed. More than 20 million people, comprising hundreds of distinct language groups, depend on Indonesia’s forests. Many traditional communities have lost their lands to plantations.

Demand for palm oil has undergone a phenomenal growth and is expected to more than double by 2030 and triple by 2050.

Palm Oil in Soap

Palm oil is widely used for its properties and because it is cheap, but as with other mass produced crops, the environmental and social costs go unaccounted for.

Many products aren't clearly labelled, and palm oil and its derivatives can appear under many names, including:

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, Hydrated Palm Glycerides, Etyl Palmitate, Octyl Palmitate, Palmityl Alcohol *

However, it is possible to buy soap that is palm-oil-free.  

Palm oil free companies (all products are palm oil free):

Lucy Bee, Conscious Skincare, Odylique, Caurnie, Friendly Soap, Earth Friendly Soap, Pure Nuff, Zaytoun and Honesty

Best rating for palm oil policy:

  • Bentley Organics
  • Neal’s Yard
  • Bio-D
  • Eco-leaf
  • Lush
  • Suma
  • Traidcraft

Middle rating for palm oil policy:

  • Faith in Nature
  • Green People
  • Yaoh
  • Weleda
  • Body Shop
  • Avalon
  • Avon
  • SC Johnson (Ecover, Method Products)
  • Henkel (Fa Soap)
  • Origins Natural
  • Beiersdorf (Nivea)
  • Reckitt Benckiser (Dettol)
  • Colgate-Palmolive (Palmolive, Sanex)
  • Unilever (Dove, Lifebuoy, Pears, Radox,)
  • Boots (Boots, Soap and Glory)

Worst rating for palm oil policy:

  • Urtekram
  • Astonish
  • Lavera
  • Baylis and Harding
  • Aesop
  • PZ Cussons (Original Source, Carex, Imperial Leather, Sanctuary)
  • L’Occitane
  • Molton
  • Procter and Gamble (Camay, Ivory)
  • Holland and Barrett (Dr Organic)
  • Superdrug
  • Toms of Maine
  • L’Oreal / Nestle (Sante)

How we rate companies for Palm Oil Policy

Worst rating

Companies using no or minimal certified palm products, and with no or minimal positive commitments score a worst rating.

Middle rating

The minimum that needs to be achieved for a middle rating is a fully certified supply chain, or a partially certified supply chain with other positive commitments met, such as disclosure of suppliers.

Best Rating

  • Companies able to demonstrate a fully certified supply chain for all palm ingredients used by the whole company group, and who declare suppliers and volumes will receive a best rating.
  • Companies that are palm oil free - using neither palm oil (CPO), palm kernel oil (PKO) nor palm derivatives - will also receive a best rating.
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