Getting clean of palm oil

I was reluctant to spend a lot of money on Orangutanuary. Not only am I out of work (to be a SAHM), but it’s just past Christmas. I also have a shed-full of cosmetics just sitting idle and it all seems such a waste.

I tried the homemade alternatives for keeping clean. I washed just with water, and tackled my hair with baking soda and apple cider vinegar. I exfoliated with coffee grounds, made my own deodorant and moisturised with coconut oil. I avoided makeup for all but one day so far this month. And I’ve stretched the eco-cleaning to the house, using baking soda and vinegar to clean the kitchen and bathrooms. I’d love to say I love this new me, but I can’t! I need products!

Thankfully, Orangutanuary has not only been educating me on the disaster that is palm oil production, it has introduced me to some fantastic palm oil free companies! And I can say now, I’m enjoying my shower routine again!


PHB Ethical Beauty is an British family-run business with a vast range of organic, vegan, palm oil free skin and hair care products for men and women. They are even recommended by the CEO of the Vegan Society, who is quoted on the packaging:

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I opted for the Balancing Shampoo and Conditioner Hair Set which is recommended for itchy, dandruff scalps. I also ordered the Hydrating Moisturiser with Frankincense and Sandalwood.


As my order was over £30 I was treated to a free gift of a Peppermint & Rosemary Soy Candle, and a Peppermint Twist hand soap! That definitely made me feel extra special!


With the shampoo and conditioner the key benefits they promote are:

  • Organic Lavender & Mint nourish and balance hair and scalp
  • Organic Argan oil & Geranium stimulate shine and prevent excess oiliness
  • Organic Oats recondition for softer and more manageable hair
  • Organic Rosemary stimulates hair follicles encouraging healthy growth
  • Rich in strengthening vitamins & essential fatty acids for healthy hair
  • Highly moisturising and soothing


I like the pump action on the bottles as I think it makes me more conscious of how much I am metering out. But to actually unlock these pumps was a slight issue. I am sure the open and close arrows are pointing the wrong way!

Now, the shampoo says to lather. But I really can’t get much of a lather with this, even on a second wash. But I feel OK with that as I’m sure most of what makes our cosmetics bubble is bad for us and the planet! The conditioner goes on well, my hair detangles easily as I run my fingers through, and both products smell lovely. My only complaint with these so far is that my hair does feel heavy afterwards. I’ll try rinsing even longer, but it’s almost a feeling of still being greasy, although I know it’s clean! I’ve found it’s better if I leave my hair to dry naturally, and I can feel it is really soft when I do. A sure plus for this shampoo.

I’ve not seen any significant improvement in the dandruff yet. Actually, I think the baking soda/vinegar wash might have been better for this so I’m thinking of alternating this in occasionally. But my scalp is itch-free for most of the day after use.


This Hydrating Moisturiser is lovely. It seems to slightly separate in the jar. It doesn’t come out as a smooth cream, but again, I think I’m getting used to what all the ‘nasties’ in our regular products condition us to. I’d say it’s taken my skin a week to get used to it. The first day I looked quite flushed, even my Mum commented. And even after two layers I was still dry and tight around my nose and forehead – I call it my upside-down-Y-zone! This dryness persisted for a few days and I reapplied as necessary, but happily today, a single application, and even a day in freezing cold air then central heating, and I’m still soft!

I’ve not used the soap as I’ve been using my Method gel hand wash, or lit the candle, but look forward to using both. PHB has a January Sale on with up to 40% off so take a look if you’re after some new cruelty-free and palm oil free goodies. PHB do point out, some of the clearance products have sustainable palm oil in, so if you’re unsure please just contact them to check.

I am going to add in my homemade exfoliator here, as I’m quite pleased with how simple and effective this was. After I’d had a mug of coffee, and whilst browsing Pinterest for eco-friendly home ideas, I found this idea from One Green Planet: 5 Awesome DIY Beauty Projects You Can Mix Up With Used Coffee Grounds. It’s not pretty but…

I melted some coconut oil, stirred in a heaped spoon of used coffee grounds (Grumpy Mule, organic & Fairtrade if you were wondering!) and let it set. In the shower I wet my face, scooped some scrub and massaged it in. I had a minor panic it would act like an awful fake tan! I did like the coffee smell funnily enough, and that when I rinsed it off the coconut oil stayed to moisturise the skin. I’m going to try it on the rest of my body as the caffeine is said to help cellulite too. Definitely worth a punt!

Back to the shop-bought beauties…


Recommended to me at the same time as PHB was Little Blue Hen Soap (LBH). Opening her delightful online store you’re greeted by the jingle of the shop door bell and a musical birdsong-like intro of La Volaire. The doorbell is cute, the first time 🙂

LBH has been creating artisan-style, handcrafted soaps in the UK for three years. They are proud to say “Every ingredient that Little Blue Hen Soap uses is researched right back to its origin to make sure that not only are they 100% natural and environmentally kind but that they have not used or caused animal exploitation in any way.” Every product is palm oil free, free from animal products and animal testing.


Looking for a shower gel alternative I invested in a Grapefruit Liquid Castile Soap, and added a Kokolo Botanical Skin Butter and a Chocorange Lip Quench. She treated me to a little free Ruby Doola soap too! I really appreciated the recycled packaging; another example of commitment to sustainability.


The liquid castile soap is fruity and refreshing. It’s thinner than I expected, with just a mild lather on my exfoliating gloves, although as with the shampoo above, not as much as a traditional shower gel. I think grapefruit is perfect for a morning shower as it’s zingy and perks you up for the day ahead.

Did you know castile soap is actually suitable for all kinds of cleaning? People use it around the house and on the body. There’s a tip sheet here from Actually, those used to Dr Bronner’s castile soap might like to try this since Dr Bronner’s contains palm oil!

The body butter is made with organic coconut, cocoa butter, sweet almond oil, walnut butter, vanilla and nutmeg, and smells unsurprisingly delicious. It was piped into a beautiful rosette, which I forgot to take my own photo of but you can see on the website, and it seemed a shame to destroy it. It’s very hard, so I am scraping it out with my nails rather than scooping it with my fingertips, but like the coconut oil I was using before it melts quickly on warm skin and massages in well. I have a feeling this size tub is not going to last me very long!

My favourite of the three is the yummy lip quench. I’ve not had a lip balm for ages but I’ve been carrying this everywhere. The chocolate orange aroma could definitely fool you into thinking you’d just indulged in an edible version! Despite the colour it applies colourless so reapply as often as you like.

Little Blue Hen has a New Year Sale on until Febuary 1st so take a look if you’d like some ethical products for 2016.

Ultimately, I did end up spending money to live palm oil free in January. It’s not an absolute requirement; there are LOTS of homemade recipes out there across social media. If all you owned was baking soda, vinegar and coconut oil I think you’d get on just fine! But what has been my cost so far?

PHB Ethical Beauty was my big spend. £22.50 on shampoo and conditioner is a lot more than I would normally pay, having previously been using Superdrug coconut shampoo at only £1.50! That said, after using said branded product I did have some nasty spots appear behind my ears, and after using PHB for a week these have gone. This is more on a par with the price of Pureology Hydrate shampoo that I have tried before, but Pureology is a concentrated formula so you use a lot less. Negatives for them are being owned by L’Oréal and unknown ingredients. (If you don’t mind about these things, it’s a lovely shampoo!)

£17.95 for moisturiser is also more than I’d usually spend, but the peace of mind you get from knowing what you’re applying is not only good for you but good for the planet has to be invaluable!

The Little Blue Hen products I bought are priced at £10 for body butter, £4.50 for castile soap and £3.20 for lip balm. This seems a lot for just 60g of body butter when you’re used to a mass-produced line providing you around 200g for the same price or less. But don’t forget you’re paying for an individual’s time and effort, for them to research and trial ethical ingredients, and you’re supporting a local small business.

So total, about £60 for cruelty free, chemical free, palm oil free, vegan, handmade shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, moisturiser, body butter and lip balm. When you look at it like that it’s not bad! AND both companies spoiled me with free soap bars, so I’ll not need to replace my hand soap in the kitchen or toilet for a while.

If you think going commercial is really the way to go, just compare the ingredients list on this body butter or this lip balm and think if you honestly want to apply all those unknown and unpronounceable chemicals after knowing it can be done without?

Have you found any new palm oil free products this Orangutanuary? Please share them!

“Be Kind To The Earth While You Are Kind To Your Skin” – Little Blue Hen

p.s. I still have a disgusting amount of products sitting unused. What do I do with them?



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