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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 as a fat because it is hard at room temperature.

In our shopping guide to soap we rated 53 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
  • Caurnie
  • Pure Nuff Stuff
  • Conscious Skincare

Best rating for palm oil policy:

  • Odylique
  • Little Soap Company
  • Lavera
  • Eco Warrior
  • Bio D
  • Friendly Soap

Middle rating for palm oil policy:

  • Faith in Nature
  • Alter/native, Ecoleaf
  • Neal's Yard
  • Dr Organic
  • Austin Austin
  • Nivea
  • Boots (Boots, Soap and Glory)
  • L'Oreal, CeraVe

Worst rating for palm oil policy:

  • Urtekram
  • Green People
  • Bentley Organics
  • Lush
  • Weleda
  • Body Shop
  • Avalon/Jason
  • Avon
  • Molton Brown
  • Honesty
  • Baylis and Harding
  • Cuticura
  • Johnson's
  • Bulldog
  • PZ Cussons (Carex, Imperial Leather, Bayleys of Bond St)
  • L’Occitane
  • Procter and Gamble (Camay)
  • Superdrug
  • Colgate-Palmolive (Palmolive, Sanex, Tom's of Maine)
  • Unilever (Dove, Simple, Pears, Radox,)

How we rate companies for Palm Oil Policy

Large companies will get the highest rating if they use no palm ingredients at all. If they do use palm ingredients their rating will be better the more of the following criteria they satisfy: 

  • all palm ingredients are certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)
  • over 50% of their palm ingredients are certified to the more stringent RSPO standards - Segregated or Identity Preserved
  • they list their mills and producers
  • they are not using producers identified as having the most ineffective 'No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation' measures
  • they publish an annual grievance list

Medium and smaller companies can also get higher ratings if they are using organic certified palm ingredients.

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