Can products truly be cruelty free if they contain palm oil?

Every now and then something comes along and gives us a big kick in the bum and motivates us to do things differently. David Attenborough and BluePlanet 2 forced us as a nation into action over single use plastics, and now,the new banned Iceland ad with RangTan is making us think more about the devastating effects palm oil has on the world’s orangutan population.

Now, this isn’t about to become a preachy post about how all brands are awful but I am currently pondering if a brand can say it’s truly cruelty free if it uses palm oil from an unsustainable source? Brands which don’t test on animals are of course cruelty free but how far should that be extended? If palm oil is used,then it’s still having an impact on the environment and wildlife does it still make it cruelty free?

I know this is an incredibly grey area and often (I know I do) adopting the ‘ignorance is bliss’ attitude can be more straightforward but, we need to do something to reduce the impact our everyday living is having on the world.

This doesn’t mean to say I’m about to throw out everything I own and live in a mud hut in the dark but, it does mean I’m going to try and be more eco and ethically friendly with the products I buy and use.

For example, I love Glossier and bang on about their products and how good they are but it’s only recently that I’ve been seriously looking at their ingredients. The priming moisturiser contains Palmitic Acid which is a saturated fatty acid made from palm oil. Now, Glossier is cruelty free but how far does this extend beyond not testing on animals? I’m not trying to single Glossier out at all, it’s purely that I was standing in the shower and noticed the cruelty free stamp on the milk jelly cleanser, which then got me thinking and pondering about what cruelty free really means.

*update* I’ve had an email from Glossier explaining they only use ethically sourced RSPO-certified palm-derived ingredients, where possible. 

Back in 2008 I visited Sumatra with the Sumatran Orangutan Society and have seen first-hand the devastation palm oil growth has had on the rainforest and the impact on the orangutan population. It’s utterly heartbreaking and we have to do better.

Orangutan close up taking in Sumatra
Orangutan climbing through the rainforest
Disclaimer – i took these pictures back in 2008 when the digital cameras weren’t as amazing as they are now

But,(there’s always a but) living in a time of convenience and in all honesty ignorance, it is difficult to make those changes when brands and not just beauty use a multitude of names for palm oil. I’m making a promise to myself that I will do better and make better choices, this means being informed about the variety of guises palm oil takes in an ingredients list. Look out for things like: 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, SodiumLaureth Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Kernelate, Sodium PalmKernelate, Sodium Lauryl Lactylate/Sulphate, Hyrated Palm Glycerides, EtylPalmitate, Octyl Palmitate, Palmityl Alcohol – and that is just a small list!

See it’s an utter minefield



  1. 14/11/2018 / 9:56 pm

    Kylie, you are talking my language. Honestly, I have been looking into all this for over a year and it really does open up a can of worms. I have had many a night that I have cried frustrated tears over the industry I am part of for my day job, (the skincare industry) as I feel brands just dont take ownership. i could literally go on all day! You have made a great start by wanting to change, thats a huge step. if we all did this, even for a product at a time, imagine that start of change we could make happen. Great post my lovely, we are joining in the revolution haha xx

    • delphineblublog
      15/11/2018 / 6:12 am

      I think that’s the thing, if we all make small changes they will amount to big ones.
      But, big brands really need to take ownership and take the steps to make the changes. Once one big global brand does this others will follow suit xxx

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