Palm Oil in Cosmetics and
Personal Care Products
Oleochemicals refer to chemicals, derived from oils and fats, which have been broken down into their constituent fatty acids and glycerol. These products can be further modified to produce various types of oleo-derivatives. Thus, oleochemicals are often divided into at least two categories, namely, basic oleochemicals and derivatives.
Malaysia is the world’s largest producer of oleochemicals which are mainly palm based. Palm-based oleochemicals have properties which make them suitable for cosmetic and personal care applications such as skin care (lotions and creams), hair care (shampoos and conditioners), oral care (toothpaste and anti-fungal oral gels) and cosmetics. In these products, the oleochemicals and its derivatives provide lubricity, humectants, emulsifiers, emollients, viscosity modifiers, lather improvers, conditioners and also lustre and sheen.
Palm fatty acids are used to produce high quality detergents and soaps. Palm-based soaps have superior perfume retention compared to tallow-based soaps. The fatty acid and glycerine content of soaps also impart cleaning and foaming powers, acting as skin conditioners for smooth and healthy skin.
Some examples of the commonly used palm-based ingredients in cosmetics and personal care products, their functions and the application benefits are given below.