What is it used for?
Cleansing agent, emulsifier and surfactant
Emulsifier and surfactant
Palm oil is said to be found in 50% of supermarket products, from food and cosmetics to household cleaners. This controversial ingredient may be present in some form in virtually every product we buy and much of the palm oil we consume appears in a number of processed forms or ‘derivatives’ of the oil itself. Astonishingly it can be described by over 500 different names, and whilst palm oil itself is not strictly speaking an ingredient in any of our soaps, some of its derivatives are*.
OK, so let’s talk about palm oil.
In recent years, palm oil has received a lot of negative press, and not without good reason. We’ve all seen the footage on the news and natural history programmes of wide eyed, orphaned baby orangutans desperately clinging to a few branches of remaining tree canopy, looking despairingly at the camera as cruel loggers hack and chop away at the last vestiges of rainforest below. We’ve been made aware of the shocking decline in natural wildlife and the alarming plight of the critically endangered Sumatran tiger which now numbers only a few hundred in the wild. The predicament of the Indonesian rhino now estimated to number fewer than 80 animals and sadly, the demise of the now extinct Sumatran rhino.
So, is all palm oil bad? The truth is, that whilst palm oil itself isn’t bad, what is bad are the unscrupulous actions of self-serving corporates and multi-nationals who are actively involved in destroying huge swathes of rainforest and natural wildlife habitat to make way for vast plantations of palm oil trees. All this in a drive to boost their profits and fatten their already bulging bank accounts.
Southeast Asia now provides 85% of the worlds palm oil supply, mainly from Indonesia and Malaysia but there are 42 other countries that also produce palm oil and there has recently been an increase in palm oil production in South America, notably in Colombia, Ecuador and Guatemala. Furthermore, widespread palm oil cultivation has been linked to flooding and climate change and has also resulted in labour and human rights abuses in rural parts of poorer nations. We are wholeheartedly against using palm oil or its derivatives from these sources.
But consider this. The palm oil tree (elaeis guineensis) is not native to these countries. It is actually native to West Africa where it has been used there by the indigenous peoples as a source of raw materials for over 5,000 years. What is also important is the proximity of the African coast to Marseille, (adjacent across the Mediterranean sea) because it is from West Africa that our French artisan soap-makers obtain their palm oil.
So, let’s talk then about Responsibly Sourced Palm Oil
Orangutangs, Sumatran tigers and Indonesian rhinos don’t live in West Africa, nor do the West African peoples chop down or burn huge tracts of forest in order to plant palm oil trees. In fact, they have very few plantations but instead rely on the wild growing trees as a source of food, shelter, energy and income. West Africa produces less than 1% of the worlds palm oil and the Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) sets standards for the sustainable production of palm oil that doesn’t harm nature or people and protects the environment and the local communities who depend on it for their livelihoods.
So next time before you dismiss a product for containing palm oil, give some thought to where it came from, because responsible producers will always make the origin of their ingredients known to the consumer. So you see, when you buy our soaps which contain derivatives of responsibly sourced West African palm oil, instead of supporting fat cats in ivory towers, you are actually helping poor hard working individuals to support their families by keeping a roof over their heads and putting food on the table. Now we think that’s a cause worth supporting. Don’t you?
* N.B. There are four palm oil derivatives which can be found in some of our soaps.
They are: Palm Kernel Acid, Sodium Palmate, Sodium Palm Kernelate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES).
We want you to have every confidence in our products, their natural origin, their authenticity and their provenance. Just like we sell our soaps “naked” we want to show you that we have nothing to hide when it comes to ingredients.
That’s why you will find listed here every single ingredient that is contained in either some or all of our Pure French Soaps. Made with natural ingredients and free from additives and nasty chemicals, our soaps should be perfect for even the most sensitive skin, but first a word of caution.
It should be remembered that even the most natural organic ingredients can be a source of reaction for certain individuals, or for those who suffer from allergies or skin problems (think poison ivy or peanuts for example). If you have, or suspect you have sensitive skin or if you have any concerns we would recommend you carry out a patch test. Lastly, if you know that you have an allergy to certain ingredients, then you can search for them here.
If you can’t find them great!
The following products contain:
Marseille soaps have been produced by French artisan craft master soap makers using traditional methods for over 600 years.
Uniting the rich organic produce of Provence with natural and ecological values, they create exquisite soaps with exceptional skin care properties.
Here you can discover their heritage and find out why they are internationally recognised as some of the best soaps in the world.