Palm Oil – The High Cost of Beauty

Female palm oil workers, Author benkataro, Source Flickr (CC BY 2.0 Generic)

Palm oil is the most popular vegetable oil on earth, widely touted for its health and beauty benefits.

Palm oil is used in such everyday products as lipstick, shampoo, ice cream, chocolate, margarine, instant noodles, and pizza dough [1][2]. Claims are made that palm oil can prevent cancer, stem heart disease, treat dementia, slow aging, and aid weight loss [3].

The uncontrolled clearing of rain forests for palm oil plantations has led to a significant loss in these bio-diverse habitats.  Now, an investigation by the Associated Press has confirmed that the mistreatment of female palm oil workers in Malaysia and Indonesia is commonplace [4A]:

  • Many women work without pay to help their husbands or fathers meet unrealistic daily quotas.
  • Women routinely perform some of the industry’s most physically taxing jobs, sometimes carrying loads so heavy they can cause uterine collapse. Infertility, miscarriages, and stillbirths are the result.
  • Women, also, spray dangerous pesticides without protective gear. Activists say some have lost their sight, as a consequence.
  • Added to this, women frequently face sexual harassment. This can range from suggestive comments to outright rape.  In fear for their jobs, victims rarely report such abusive interactions.  Families may actually force victims to marry their rapists, if a pregnancy occurs.

Palm oil from the plantations where such violations occur has been reliably traced to the supply chains of L’Oréal, Avon, Procter & Gamble, and Johnson & Johnson, among others [4B].

And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, And establish the work of our hands for us…” (Ps. 90: 17).

Most of us do not give much thought to such supply chains.  We go about our daily lives, and take for granted the work others do for us.  But God sees their sacrifice and their suffering, even if we do not.

His affirmation to abuse victims everywhere is that they are beautiful and valuable in His sight.

[1]  World Wildlife Federation, “Which Everyday Products Contain Palm Oil?”,

[2]  Ethical Consumer, “Brands and Companies that use Palm Oil”, 3/28/19,

[3]  Web MD, “Palm Oil”,

[4A and 4B]  Associated Press, “Rape, abuses in palm oil fields linked to top beauty brands”, 11/18/20,



Filed under Abuse of Power, Christianity, Rape, Religion, Sexual Assault, Violence Against Women

10 responses to “Palm Oil – The High Cost of Beauty

  1. Petrina

    Thank you for sharing this important info. Many of us do not realize or think of other’s toil and suffering to provide the things we use nearly every day and take for granted.

  2. It appears that one’s vanity is often linked to another’s suffering. We should use some of our vain time considering our actions.

  3. As the giants says there is no exploitation in their supply chain but in reality there is nothing sustainable about palm oil that is produced using child labour and forced labour.

  4. Allan Halton

    Something else I’ve known nothing about! Thanks, Anna. I long for the Day when the Lord comes to judge the earth, and all the mountains and hills break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field clap their hands.

  5. Very important info, there are a lot of people who doesn´t know about it.

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