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The use of palm oil in the skincare and beauty industry

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Over recent years palm oil has become ever more in the spotlight in regards to environmental sustainability and wildlife protection. Rightly so. The increased use of palm oil has resulted in greater amounts of rainforest being taken over and converted to palm oil plantations. This means that vital habitat for wildlife has been lost. Most palm oil production is to be found in South East Asia, particularly Indonesia and Malaysia. Not only is the excessive use of palm oil majorly damaging to wildlife but in the long run it takes away from these nations the people's own birthright to have the opportunity to enjoy and explore these great areas of natural beauty. 

So why do we use palm oil in skincare? The truth is, palm oil has many incredible features as an ingredient. It contains many antioxidants in the form of vitamins that bring benefits to the health of your skin as well as soothing and softening it. While at the same time possessing a naturally preservative effect, this is particularly important when it comes to the creation of skincare products. Palm oil is used not only in the skincare and beauty industry but also in many other sectors too, particularly in the creation of different foodstuffs. 

Palm oil production brings a vital income to millions of people in countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia.  It is easy in countries like the UK to appreciate the natural world around us when we have relatively secure and high incomes and a solid and prosperous quality of life. However the ability to earn a wage working in palm oil production is an opportunity not to be missed in countries like Indonesia and Malaysia, especially in the agrarian areas of said countries often far away away from the major urban centres. 

Therefore, while it may seem like the obvious and best choice in the West to simply abstain from using palm oil containing products altogether the results of this decision are not always entirely beneficial, neither for the prosperity and living standards of people much poorer than ourselves across the world or the environment. If we stop using palm oil altogether then that means many thousands if not millions of workers will find themselves out of work and without an income, with all the terrible effects that can bring. While at the same time, when palm oil is not used as an ingredient instead other types of oil are used. The plants that produce these oils often produce lower yields (smaller amounts of oil) and therefore you need more trees and more forest space to grow them in the first place, that combined with increased demand will result in forest and wildlife being destroyed even more so. 

It is a fundamental truth of life that human behaviour on the planet will always have an effect on the environment, the trick is to develop processes that will allow us to take advantage of the world around us while minimising the damage this does to the environment while bringing economic and financial benefits to billions of people around the world. This is something that revered and respected organisations such as WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) also believe in. The WWF has joined the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil along with many other stakeholders within the palm oil industry. This roundtable is responsible for certifying palm oil produced by specific plantations that respect key principles regarding palm oil production. These principles include: preventing deforestation of primary forest (forest undamaged by human activity or naturally) and forest that contains a high amount of biodiversity and endangered species, preventing the use of fire to burn peat and clear land and working with local indigenous communities, respecting their rights to the land.  

The fact is, palm oil is here to stay. It provides many natural benefits while being relatively cheap and plentiful. What we must do is move to a world in which we can take advantage of this oil while making sure we do not destroy the environment it comes from and we can provide an income and quality way of life for the workers in the industry. This is why at Handsome Fella we pledge to only stock products containing palm oil from a certified sustainable source. 

The advance of technology and progress will always rely on the environment around us, the genius of humankind has been to use our intelligence to use natural resources to develop living standards far beyond in prosperity than our ancestors could have ever imagined. As we move forward as a people we must be unafraid of continuing to advance the living standards of humans throughout the world but while we do so we must make sure to develop sustainably. Not only is this good for wildlife and the natural world but it is also good for human beings who will one day want to enjoy the natural world around them, not purely for economic gain but for social and cultural gain too. Something many of us in the UK can already appreciate. 

Further information and reading regarding sustainable palm oil can be found here: 

https://www.rspo.org/file/VISUAL%20-%20Consumer%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf

https://wwf.panda.org/our_work/food/agriculture/about_palm_oil/solutions/

http://www.eco-business.com/news/what-is-sustainable-palm-oil/