Palm oil is in many curly hair products. You may have seen it listed in your favourite conditioner, curl cream, or hair oil. But what is it, and why is it included in so many products?
Unfortunately, palm oil is a controversial ingredient, and for good reason. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at why palm oil is problematic and whether curly-haired individuals should avoid products that contain it.
What is Palm Oil?
Palm oil is a type of vegetable oil that is extracted from the fruit of palm trees. It’s used in a variety of products, from food to cosmetics to cleaning supplies.
The main reason why palm oil is used so widely is that it’s relatively cheap to produce. In fact, palm oil is one of the most inexpensive vegetable oils on the market. It’s also versatile; palm oil can be used as both a solid and a liquid, which makes it ideal for use in a variety of products.
Why is Palm Oil Problematic?
The problem with palm oil is that its production leads to deforestation and habitat loss. In order to make room for more palm trees (and thus, more palm oil production), rainforests are being cleared at an alarming rate. This destruction of natural habitats leads to the loss of biodiversity and puts many species of animals at risk of extinction.
What’s more, the clear-cutting of rainforests to make room for palm plantations also contributes to climate change. When trees are cut down, they release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere – and since rainforests are some of the densest forests on Earth, they contain a lot of carbon. Therefore, when they’re cleared, a significant amount of carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere, exacerbating climate change.
Finally, the working conditions on palm plantations are often abysmal. In many cases, workers – who are mostly migrant laborers – are paid very little and are required to work extremely long hours. What’s more, they’re often exposed to hazardous chemicals without proper safety gear.
Should We Avoid Products Containing Palm Oil?
The short answer: yes. Because palm oil production leads to deforestation, habitat loss, and climate change – not to mention poor working conditions for plantation workers – curly-haired individuals should avoid products that contain this ingredient.
Fortunately, there are plenty of curly hair care products on the market that don’t contain palm oil (or any other controversial ingredients). So next time you’re shopping for new hair care products, be sure to check the ingredient list before making your purchase.
Palm oil and its derivatives can be listed under many other names. These include:
Palm Fruit Oil
Palm Kernel Oil
Sodium Laureth Sulfate
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
Sodium Palm Kernelate
Sodium Lauryl Lactylate/Sulphate
Hyrated Palm Glycerides
This huge list means it can be difficult to check labels for the presence of palm oil, and not all of the above ingredients will necessarily contain palm oil derivatives, but they may do.
The app Giki is a fantastic way to scan products and check for sustainability issues.
These hair products are free from palm oil or use sustainably sourced palm oil
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Faith in Nature Lemon & Tea Tree Shampoo
Jason Restorative Biotin Shampoo
Faith in Nature Organic Aloe Vera Conditioner
Jason Thickening Biotin & Hyaluronic Acid Conditioner
John Masters Organics Nourishing Defrizzer for Dry Hair
John Masters Organics Volumizing Foam
GIOVANNI 2chic Ultra-Moist Leave-In Conditioning Styling Elixir
You can find more palm oil-free products here on the Ethical Superstore.
In conclusion, while palm oil may be cheap and versatile, its production has a number of negative consequences – including deforestation, habitat loss, climate change, and poor working conditions for plantation workers. For these reasons, you may wish to avoid products that contain this ingredient. Fortunately, there are plenty of great curly hair care products on the market that don’t use palm oil or any other controversial ingredients.