Late last year, Iceland (the frozen goods supermarket brand) announced that they will not be using any palm oil in their own range products any more. I never gave Iceland much thought before that but their Rang- Tan's campaign and commercial* (which was unfairly banned**) actually brought tears to me eyes. And I’m one tough dude.
It’s a difficult one to get away from and, why do we need to? Palm oil production, a majority in Indonesia, involves deforestation, sometimes illegal, which drives indigenous people from their homes. Orangutans are also driven away and can die in the process. Deforestation also creates climate change. Why is it difficult to get away from? It’s in cream crackers. It’s in the vegetable oil you cook with. It’s in peanut butter. Basically it's in half of what you buy at a supermarket and, it’s in most skincare products, organic, vegan, natural or otherwise. It's in all the most well known brands out there.
Creams and lotions by and large are created by combining water and oil. To successfully bind the two, you need an emulsifier. Much like how you can use an egg to bake a cake. Within the cosmetics market, manufacturers offer many different types of emulsifiers one can buy. They are often combinations of emulsifiers. Most, and I mean 99% of them, are made from coconut oil, wheat, other plant derivatives and, ‘may contain palm oil’ . Since palm oil is cheap to buy as a raw material and very versatile, one may deduce an emulsifier will contain palm oil when it says, 'may contain'. When a manufacturer does produce an emulsifier that does not contain any palm oil, it will label it clearly along side the name of the emulsifier.
As far as I know, there are less than 5 emulsifiers that are palm oil free. Xyliance used to be one until they were taken over by a different company. Sorbitan Olivate once was thought of to be but a few skincare companies who were using it found out it wasn’t***.
So. Of the handful of available emulsifiers that are palm free I have sought, I formulated until I were happy with the creams . And to formulate with the limited variety available has been testing. I have gone the difficult route but I believe it is the route worth taking. As far as I know, we are the only UK skincare company that produce cream emulsions that are palm oil free. There is a reason there are few in the world.
If you want to know if your skincare product contains palm oil, look up the ingredients in your skincare. They come in 100 different names****. Look for ingredients such as Cetearyl Alcohol (an extremely common emulsifier and is often within other emusifiers) and Polyglyceryl-3
As a consumer myself, I know I can make choices and help bring about change in what companies produce and use as ingredients. It’s simply supply and demand. As consumers, we are the most powerful force to bring about a change in any industry. We can all try to do our bit and hopefully someday, we will be able to shift this paradigm.
As a formulator of skincare, we hope there are more manufacturers who will develop more emulsifiers to choose from so that we and others can provide a good variety for people. We can continue to do this if we are supported.