How Hidden Palm Oil and Outsource Manufacture Allows Greenwashing In the Skincare Industry

August 02, 2021 0 Comments

How Hidden Palm Oil and Outsource Manufacture Allows Greenwashing In the Skincare Industry


This post is part of a more detailed article I wrote about Palm Oil a while ago. I just wanted to pull it out of the archives and focus on the 'Palm in Disguise' element of the article, as it seems particularly poignant with the increasing amount of 'Greenwashing' by businesses in the skincare / Beauty Industry.

There's is much greenwashing going on, with many meaningless virtue signalling 'stamps' to bolster up this misguided and egocentric corporate culture. I think one of the main reasons for this is many beauty / skincare businesses don't actually make their own products and have little input into how they are created above the very superficial, such as.. I want it to smell like Y, appeal to X market sector, and we have to have ingredient Z in there as it's currently trending 🙄

Most skincare/beauty companies outsource the creating and making of their 'miraculous' products and just market their stuff at you. Like most corporate entities do these days.

The main unregulated lies I keep on seeing are..  

"Planet Friendly"

"Vegan Friendly"

"Cruelty Free"


"No Palm Oil"

And look, they may not even know, because they don't make the products and it seems they have no interest in learning about what really goes into them. As well as contracting out the main part of their business they also contract out their ethics, values, integrity, honesty and knowledge around these issues. Like the high profile clothing and tech brands which have been highlighted for this in years gone by.

It often comes down to one element.. not knowing how many different guises palm oil comes under on ingredient lists. When palm oil is used in industry, hidden in the supply chain network and turns up in weird sounding ingredient listings on skincare products.. It probably ain't gonna be from a sustainably managed forest. 


Here are the main issues with unsustainable palm oil..

Major Driver of Deforestation

Destruction of Biodiversity

Destruction of endangered animals and their environments

Responsible for releasing millions of tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.. Contributing towards climate change

Exploitation of workers and communities

Here are a few pointers on how to recognise unsustainable, unethical and definitely not vegan friendly, planet friendly, cruelty free palm oil based ingredients..

Anything with ‘palm’ in the name is highly likely a derivative such as the Palmitoyl and Palmitic ingredients.

When you see a single fatty acid in an ingredient list or it’s saponified equivalent (some examples listed below) these could well be derived from palm oils. 

Fatty Acids

- Palmitic acid

- Hexadecanoic acid

- Myristate acid

- Caprylic acid

- Capric acid

- Lauric acid

- Stearic acid 

- Oleic acid 

Saponified Fatty Acids

- Sodium palmate

- Sodium myristate

- Sodium decanoate

- Sodium caprylate

- Sodium octanoate

- Sodium laurate 

- Sodium Stearate

- Sodium oleate

Some of the ‘coco’ ingredients which generally come from coconut oil can also be palm derived.

All the SLS’s are often derived from palm oil.

The popular skincare ingredient Capric/caprylic Triglyceride is either made from coconut or palm oil.

Glycerine or Glycerol - is often derived from palm oil. 

Vegetable Oil - You are not going to see this much in skincare ingredient lists but surprisingly, palm oil can be described as just plain vegetable oil. it’s the most widely used and consumed vegetable oil in the World.

Click here for a comprehensive list of potential palm oil products and ingredients. 

I hope this information has helped you to be a little more aware of the controversy around palm oil and helped you to understand some ingredient listings a little more.  Please feel free to leave any comments and open the discussion further.


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