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Pass On The Palm Oil: Your Guide To Sustainable Beauty

Pass On The Palm Oil: Your Guide To Sustainable Beauty

How many of us are familiar with the phrase, ‘If it’s yellow let it mellow’, ‘If it’s brown flush it down’, and ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’? Answer: probably most of us. But how many of us can say we actually do this on an everyday basis? Now, I am no way a political activist for climate change – I mean, I should be, we all should be—but let’s face it – most of us wouldn’t even know where to start with reducing our carbon footprint, and if we do, we’re reluctant to do our research on how we can do more than just recycling.

Having watched David Attenborough’s recent documentary on Netflix ‘Our Planet’, it dawned on me that it’s easy to distance ourselves from a problem when it doesn’t affect us blatantly every day. I’ve never been to Asia, but I know that because of ingredients such as Palm Oil, almost 70% of the Borneo rainforests have disappeared due to deforestation. With shocking figures like these, I wanted to find out what I could be doing to help the planet, and I found out it was as easy as swapping a few of my favorite products in my make-up bag.

Palm Oil is used in the formulation of most skin care products, make-up, and sun protectives. It’s an ingredient that comes from plants (yay, vegan), can be used in food such as chocolate and peanut butter (yummy), but is also used in common household cleaners (um, what?). It may seem perfectly harmless, but the effect it has on our planet and wildlife is devastating. Humans are using palm oil at such an alarming rate, leaving 100 wild Bornean orangutans dead every week, as well as contributing to 10% of all greenhouse gas emissions. Something has got to give!

Some of the major household beauty brand names use and produce this silent killer ingredient. Brands such as Johnson & Johnson, Unilever, P&G, and L’Oreal were exposed by climate fighting organization Greenpeace for being linked to major rainforest destruction in Indonesia. As a consumer, it’s appalling how palm oil is snuck into products under numerous names such as vegetable oil, palm olein, glyceryl, stearate, sodium laureth sulfate, and sodium kernelate, just to name a few out of 20+.

Now I’m not saying you should throw out all your favorite products, but not only will your skin, but body and planet also love you for it, you will feel good knowing the next set of beauty products you purchase, are made with the conscious choice to do better for your environment. Plus, there are some very cute orangutans that will appreciate you for it too. Here are some of my favorite brands that are doing better for you and the world we live in.

Eden Perfume

It can be tricky, with the number of ingredients you can never pronounce in any perfume product, to separate the bad ingredients from the not so bad ones.

Don’t fear though, Eden Perfume  is an ethical and sustainable scent brand operating straight out of Brighton in the UK. Their aim is to provide you with the deliciously expensive smells you love (think Chanel ‘Mademoiselle’ and Marc Jacobs ‘Daisy’), but with a much more sustainable ingredient list, and a much smaller price tag. None of their products contains palm oil, they are 100% vegan, and they don’t test on animals, what more could you want?

Saves money, smells good and is sustainable, now those are three $$$ I can get on board with.


With a natural skincare and makeup range to make the likes of Rimmel and L’Oreal envious, Odylique is a family run business on a local Suffolk farm. The Odylique mission is to bring positive therapeutic value to all customers through pure products that provide amazing results. All the ingredients used are sourced locally from sustainable and renewable sources.

They are the trailblazers for bringing natural skincare to the next level while making it accessible to all. And don’t worry about tricky ingredient names, they have made it so everyone will be more understanding of what is going in their bodies, by clearly listing ingredients in plain English, with some ranges being helpfully color-coded. Their customer favorites include Calming Rose Super Tonic, Creamy Coconut Cleanser and every make-up bag must-have, mascara.


All hail the skin gods, Glossier is my go-to for a fresh, moisturized face without the hassle of make-up, and it just made my day to find out they are sustainably beautiful too. Although not all their products are vegan – you can find out which ones are and which aren’t here – none have been found to contain palm oil, they don’t test on animals, and even go as far to not selling in countries that legally do test on animals, hurrah!


A name with a meaning, and a meaning they live by. Axiology is a brand solely devoted to the palm oil free production of lipstick. If you didn’t know, most lipsticks will contain palm oil as it is cheap, doesn’t melt easily, and holds color well. Their ethos is to provide the cleanest, most ethical lipstick on the planet by banishing this evil ingredient.

They also donate a portion of their profit to the Orangutan Foundation International, truly taking a stand against palm oil production. You know what you’re getting with this brand, and with 30 beautiful, all skin-tone friendly colors to choose from you are spoilt for choice!

We still have a long way to go if we want to conquer climate change and even with sustainable ingredients, there is still the plastic problem, melting ice caps, and carbon emissions. However, it can be easy to think that doing this one thing isn’t enough when really it is the small changes that make all the difference. If we, as consumers, make more conscious choices about what we choose to put in and on our bodies, soon we’ll find that large companies who do have the power, will take note (hopefully). Until then, have fun playing around with some new products while doing the planet a favor.

by Elisheba Akalawu
Cover Photo by Glossier
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