Is E.L.F. Cosmetics a Palm-Oil Free Company?

Let's get one thing straight once and for all: vegan and cruelty-free does not mean palm-oil free. I have seen this misconception perpetrated in comment sections and in our timelines and Twitter feeds far too many times. Often, the star of this conversation is a brand like E.L.F. Cosmetics. Someone will ask if they use palm-oil and another user will interject with No, they are vegan!

So, to quash this myth once and for all I asked them, very simply, if they were a palm-oil free company. Here's how they replied:

Thank you for your support and interest in e.l.f. cosmetics. At e.l.f. Cosmetics, we believe that beauty comes from within all of us. Our line of luxurious cosmetics captures great looking skin with gorgeous colors and quality ingredients. Our products are designed to let your inner beauty shine through.

You can find all e.l.f. ingredients indicated on the packaging of our products as well as on our website. All ingredients used in e.l.f. cosmetics are vegan friendly, safe and meet F.D.A requirements. Ingredients are listed on our website as well as on the packaging of our products.

We are proud to say that we do not test on animals or endorse such practices. We currently support PETA and are partners with PETA in the Caring Consumer Project. The eye brushes in our essential line are made from cut natural horse hair and have genuine wood handles. The other brushes in our essential line and the brushes in our studio line are vegan friendly and made of anti-bacterial, synthetic Taklon hair.  

Please, if you ever receive a convoluted, hot-mess of a message like this do not fall for it. There is nothing of value here, especially in regards to my previous question. This e-mail is a tactic meant* to bog you down with information, in hopes that you will drop your search. 

* To clarify, I don't think responses like this are an intentional or malicious move by your customer service rep per se; we've discussed the education of customer service teams in the past and broken down the real root of that problem. 

As we've stated before, you have to keep pushing. Just because something may be on the master list of names for palm-oil does not mean it cannot be made from other oils - it is always important to double-check. Here was my not-so-subtle reply: "Thank you for THREE paragraphs that did nothing to answer my question. As I am sure that you misread my inquiry the first time, I will pose it again: Do you use palm-oil derivatives? Are you a palm-oil free company?"

E.L.F. Cosmetics responded with a more concise response this time:

We do apologize for not responding directly to your question. Please note that some of our products do contain palm derived ingredients such as Cetearyl alcohol, glycerins and stearates.

What does this tell us? Most importantly, this company does not have a prepared statement for palm-oil inquiries. That isn't great. Moreover, they had the information to begin with and for whatever reason, decided to withold it. This brand is known for one primary thing and that is affordability. A majority of their products are under $5 and this is a big red flag for conflict palm-oil. It's not that more expensive products are safer, it is that this company is producing items (like eyeliner and foundation) that are often sold for ten to fifty times more, expecting still to make decent profit some way and somehow.

This would be the perfect time to probe further, which I did, and ask about the sustainability status of these palm-oil derived ingredients. I asked many times and got nothing in return. Not a thing.

My final verdict?

It's time to ditch E.L.F. Cosmetics. They are unresponsive about their usage of conflict palm-oil and their vegan and cruelty-free claims are a smokescreen for a wider-reaching negligence regarding the sourcing of their ingredients. There are so many other vegan, cruelty-free, and palm-oil free brands out there who may cost more but will gladly speak with you about their sourcing and supply chains.

Stay curious!