Orangutan in Rainforest

The dirty truth about Palm Oil in Shampoo and why you should avoid it

Palm Oil is widely used, it’s estimated that around half of all UK supermarket products contain it and for personal care, that goes up to a hefty 70%![1] 

So, what is Palm Oil anyway?

We’re glad you asked. Palm Oil is an edible vegetable oil derived from the fruit of the oil palm tree (Elaeis Guineensis). The majority of Palm Oil is sourced from Indonesia and Malaysia where cultivation causes significant deforestation and loss of habitat. Palm Oil production has also been implicated in forced labour and human rights abuses.[2]

Why is Palm Oil in Shampoo?

Palm Oil is used in a wide variety of products, from food to cosmetics (including shampoo and conditioner) because it’s both cheap and versatile. This doesn’t mean it comes without a cost, though – to both planet and people.

In haircare products, Palm Oil is used as an ingredient in many detergents and emulsifiers not only because it's inexpensive, it provides texture, conditioning and assists with moisture retention. 

So, what’s the problem with Palm Oil?

Palm Oil plantations are one of the leading causes of deforestation. The clearing of large areas of rainforest, creates erosion and the monoculture causes loss of biodiversity and critical habitat for many endangered species including Orangutans, Tigers and Elephants.

Globally, production of Palm Oil has been climbing steadily for decades. As demand continues to grow, Greenpeace estimates that every 25 seconds a football pitch sized area of rainforest is lost in Indonesia. And fires used to clear forests are the major source of greenhouse gas emissions. Deforestation contributes to climate change, the pesticides used create water pollution and indigenous communities are often displaced.

 Deforestation Indonesia

How can you identify which products contain Palm Oil?

By law, in the EU food products containing Palm Oil must be labelled. However, this does not cover Palm Oil derivatives in food and non-food products. Most big brand liquid Shampoo and Conditioners contain Palm Oil, ingredients containing such as Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES).

Frustratingly, it’s not always obvious, as Palm Oil can be listed under a variety of different names.[3] A good start is to look for ‘Palm Oil’, ‘Palm Kernel Oil’ or ‘Sodium Palmate' on the ingredients label.

Other ingredients that commonly include Palm Oil are:

  • Sodium Coco-Sulfate (SCS)
  • Cetearyl Alcohol
  • Glycerin
  • Stearic Acid
  • Glyceryl Stearate

However, it’s unfortunately not that simple …since Palm Oil Free versions of these ingredients also exist.

In some mass-produced Shampoo Bars, you may see an ingredient listed as Polyglyceryl-4 Laurate – this is always Palm Oil derived.

The best way to be sure products don’t contain Palm Oil is to check with the brand. If it’s Palm Free like KIND2, chances are they will state that clearly.

Being Kind to the Planet, means Palm Free Shampoo Bars! 

Choosing to formulate products without Palm Oil was a decision we made from the outset. At KIND2, all our Shampoo and Conditioner Bars are Palm Oil Free and you can find a full list of all our ingredients here.

So, if you want to use Palm Free Shampoo (while having great looking and healthy hair of course) head to the KIND2 shop!




[1] https://www.theguardian.com/news/2019/feb/19/palm-oil-ingredient-biscuits-shampoo-environmental

[2] https://money.cnn.com/2016/11/29/news/economy/palm-oil-labor-abuses-amnesty/

[3] https://www.palmoilinvestigations.org/names-for-palm-oil.html

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