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The Eco Alchemist Interview About Certified Palm Oil Free Products

The Eco Alchemist Interview About Certified Palm Oil Free Products

I had an amazing opportunity to interview Terri Kirkham who is the founder and CEO of The Eco Alchemist. She and her company have taken steps to certify all of their skincare products Palm Oil Free with the International Palm Oil Free Certification Trademark (POFCAP).

This means all of their ingredients, including all of the derivatives to make up the main ingredients, do not contain palm oil. This is rare in shampoos, conditioners, soaps, and deodorants. It’s an even bigger deal for a company to take the additional steps to certify them.

Ms. Kirkham realized there weren’t palm oil free shampoos and conditioner bars made in Canada. She started The Eco Alchemist to fill that gap.

In our interview, she shared the inspiration behind The Eco Alchemist. For her, it wasn’t just about creating another product. It was about setting a new standard, championing sustainability, and catering to consumers who value quality and ethics. 

The Eco Alchemist Interview

1. Please tell me a bit about your company, including how and why you started it and a bit about your products.

The Eco Alchemist was created out of a need to supply palm-free shampoo & conditioner bars to the Canadian market. I couldn’t easily find a Canadian made bar that didn’t use palm derivatives, so I set out to change that.

It all started in my basement researching and experimenting with different formulations for about 2 years then I launched the brand in May 2021. It has since grown into a full production facility called the Shine Lab with a boutique storefront opening early Sept 2023 at #1 – 2557 Mamquam Road, Squamish BC Canada.

I chose this location as it is a very powerful yet calming area, situated beside a rushing river that meets up with the larger Mamquam River just across the street. It’s the perfect zen location for making our earth friendly goods.

Our original products consisted of 6 shampoo + conditioner bar combos, powder-to-foam facial cleanser, dry shampoo, facial oils, and powdered clay masks. The line has expanded to include handcrafted soaps, bubble bath bars, and an award-winning deodorant formula which comes packaged in a compostable tube.

We are proudly the first company in Canada to be certified palm oil free by POFCAP and our entire brand is certified.

2. Have your products always been palm oil free? Please explain what made you want to adopt a palm oil free approach for your products.

It was important for us to be 100% palm free as we set out to reduce the impact of the personal care industry on the environment and using palm oil just doesn’t fit that ethos.

We started out actually believing that our entire line was palm oil free. However, in going through the certification process, we learned that some of our ingredients in fact contained palm, although we were buying them from a supplier claiming that those ingredients were palm free.

(My note: This is why it’s so important to become Certified Palm Oil Free. Oftentimes, venders and suppliers do not know what their ingredients consist of.)

3. How do you ensure the palm oil free integrity of each product under The Eco Alchemist brand?

All of our products are certified palm oil free by the Palm Oil Free Trademark (POFCAP), and each ingredient has been thoroughly investigated and verified palm free by their team of assessors.

4. Discuss why you choose to use all palm oil free ingredients (and certify them Palm Oil Free) rather than use “sustainable palm oil” as designated by the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

Most cosmetic ingredients containing RSPO palm derivatives use what is called Mass Balance – which is made up of 50% sustainable and 50% unsustainable palm. That just doesn’t cut it for us.

With the demand for palm oil being so immense, as an eco-responsible brand we choose to not put any more strain on the supply chain as a whole by being proudly certified palm free.

(Author’s note: This is important. In addition to not being proven 100% sustainable, so-called “sustainable palm oil” increases the overall demand for palm oil.)

5. Please explain some of the palm oil free ingredients you use. What ingredients (with palm oil) do they replace?

Many shampoo bars are made using Cetyl Alcohol, which is generally a palm derived ingredient. We use Brassica Alcohol, another fatty alcohol which delivers similar results.

We also have found some highly trusted manufacturers who make palm free versions of some ingredients that are usually palm derived. Decyl Glucoside is one example.

6. Please discuss how you make bar soaps, bar shampoos, and bar conditioners instead of liquid products and why.

To help eliminate plastic waste and greatly reduce our shipping footprint. We believe that if a customer can add the water at home, it just makes sense to leave it out of our manufacturing processes.

This means our products are highly concentrated, require much smaller packaging (good things DO come in small packages!) and they don’t need to be stored in a plastic bottle.

Also, with no added water, the need for preservatives is reduced, which is always a bonus!

7. What challenges have there been in formulating palm oil free products?

Access to truly palm free goods and the lack of transparency from manufacturers were huge pain points for us in creating our formulas. We found it unbelievably difficult to get a straight answer when we asked what makes up an ingredient, and we asked many, many large manufacturers.

I’ve been ghosted more times that I’d like to remember just by asking questions that we as makers have the right to know the answer to, like “What plants make up this ingredient?”

It seems so simple but usually if they don’t tell the full story, it’s likely because there is a sad ending. If we don’t have all the information, how can we be sure what we are telling our customers is true?

It took us a year of researching ingredients/manufacturers and reformulating to get certified after first submitting our application. It was lengthy but absolutely worth it as the up front and trustworthy manufacturers we were able to find will be our suppliers for life.

As they say in dating, you need to kiss a bunch of frogs before you find your prince charming… same applies here.

8. Do the palm oil free ingredients you use typically cost more than ingredients derived from palm oil? Are they more difficult to source? 

Yes, unfortunately they are generally more expensive which I do understand. Palm is such an inexpensive oil, that coupled with the cost of research and development to create a palm free version is expensive and time consuming.

They are also difficult to source. There aren’t many options out there, and as mentioned, they need to come from a verified source.

9. What are the challenges with using ingredients without palm oil?

Luckily, they aren’t usually more challenging to formulate with than palm derived ones.

10. Why do you think more companies aren’t using palm oil free ingredients?

It can be very difficult. Palm is found in SO many cosmetic ingredients. Just as one example, Glycerin is usually palm derived, and it is one of the most widely used ingredients in cosmetic ingredients/products.

Then if you are making lotions, most emulsifiers on the market are palm derived. In shampoos, most surfactants (the bubble part) are palm derived.

It takes a lot of research and time to formulate palm free and as mentioned earlier, the cost is generally higher.

11. If a company aspired to eliminate palm oil from its production line, what can you share from your own experiences?

First, take the time to go through the certification process. It is really the only way to know for sure, and a trusted certification body like POFCAP will help you along the way. I truly couldn’t have done it without their help.

Second, research and know your ingredient manufacturer. Ask all the questions, if you are using naturally-derived ingredients, ask for a complete composition list and be sure that it lists the raw derivatives of those ingredients in composition.

If the composition says “fatty acids”, ask them to break it down. Where do those fatty acids come from? Sodium Isethionate – that is a compound not a raw ingredient. What components make up that ingredient and what raw plant matter or chemicals are used to make each component?

12. If a company is considering becoming palm oil free, what would you say to inspire them to take the plunge?

It can be difficult but absolutely 100% worth it. I can confidently say that my products are cruelty-free without having those poor orangutans or Sumatran tigers saying “what about us?”

13. In what ways do you believe The Eco Alchemist distinguishes itself within the marketplace, particularly regarding your decision to be palm oil free?

Being the first company in Canada to be certified palm oil free is a huge deal. While it sets us apart, my wish is that it inspires others to do the same. We don’t want to be just one of a few, our dream is to be part of a large extended family of palm free Canadian brands!!

The Eco Alchemist Clean Beauty Awards

The Eco Alchemist Clean Beauty Awards

14. Do you find that your palm oil free certification has helped with your brand recognition or influenced customer loyalty? Would you say that the choice to avoid palm oil is a primary attraction for your customers or a bonus that reinforces their loyalty?

I believe the efficacy of our products is the #1 reason we have become successful and have such a high customer return rate. We recently took first place in the global Clean Beauty Awards’ Face Oil & Odour Care categories, and our shampoo bar placed 4th which is super exciting!

That said, we certainly have been found by folks seeking to buy certified palm free goods as it isn’t commonplace in the Canadian market. Being certified palm free is something that we are very proud of, and I believe that when people think about The Eco Alchemist, most associate us with that.

15. How does The Eco Alchemist’s commitment to being palm oil free contribute to a better world?

I think any stance a company takes against contributing to known environmental harms helps the planet. Especially with product-based brands, increasing access to more sustainable options helps customers be more sustainable. We can all do better together.

16. Will you share a memorable customer testimonial that illustrates the impact of your palm oil free products?

One of our favourite new customers found us after CBC Marketplace did a piece on how palm oil can be hiding in everyday products. She has since sent our products to a number of her family members and leaves wonderful reviews which leaves us all warm and fuzzy inside. Here is the review from her first order…

I was so happy to find a Canadian company that does not use Palm derivatives in its products, and now that I’ve tried this shampoo and conditioner I’m even happier! I don’t think my hair has ever looked and felt silkier and smoother!

Terri made sure my order arrived before a trip, and I’m taking both of these bars, in their travel containers, with a loofah slice for them to dry out. Great products, and conscientious company helping to limit the destruction of orangutan habitat plus crucial rainforest that are being lost to palm oil plantations.

17. As an environmentally conscious company, do you have any other sustainable practices or initiatives that reinforce your commitment to a healthier planet? 

Absolutely, sustainability is at the forefront of every decision we make. Our products are waterless, compact and come in recyclable, refillable or compostable packaging. All shipping materials are compostable or recyclable, including the shipping label.

The Eco Alchemist Smooth Operator Shampoo Bar

The Eco Alchemist Smooth Operator Shampoo Bar

18. Can you describe a specific product in your lineup that best encapsulates The Eco Alchemist’s mission and ethos?

I would have to say our shampoo bar. The compact waterless format saves up to 3 plastic bottles, has a very small shipping footprint, and best of all, it is the first certified palm free shampoo bar in Canada which was my inspiration to start the company from day one.

19. Looking forward, do you see any potential trends or shifts in the market that could make it easier or more difficult for companies to go palm oil free?

Supply chain issues have made it difficult to source certain ingredients, and it seems that a number of ingredients that used to be palm free are now being made with palm.

The amount of palm free selections we have as product manufacturers is getting smaller by the minute which is worrisome. I feel that if there was more demand for palm free options, the ingredient manufacturers would find a way to continue to produce them.

I also see more of a shift to RSPO Mass Balance with ingredient manufacturers but it is still made of 50% unsustainable palm oil.

20. How do you anticipate The Eco Alchemist evolving in the next few years? Are there any exciting developments or future plans you can share?

I am about to be certified as a Cosmetic Chemist which is very exciting, so expect many more innovative products and clever creations coming from me! Also, did I mention the opening of our flagship store? Yeah, I think I mentioned it right out of the gate. I’m simply over the moon to be able to offer refills and more to our local community to further reduce our footprint.

21. For someone new to The Eco Alchemist, which product would you recommend they try first and why?

I definitely recommend anyone who hasn’t tried solid shampoo and conditioner to give it a go, many are surprised by the loads of luxurious lather! A little surely goes a long way.

For folks looking to our skin care products, the Niacinamide + Hyaluronic Acid Serum paired with our Bakuchiol + Calendula Facial Oil made such a difference in the health of my skin and have helped many of my awesome customers improve the look of their skin too.

22. In addition to using your own products, is there anything you intentionally purchase that is palm oil free? What are your favorite palm oil free products?

I do make most of the personal care products I use so I know what is in them (and most importantly what isn’t in them).

All of the food I buy is palm oil free. If I see palm on the label, I put it back on the shelf. No matter how delicious it may sound I just can’t support it with my wallet.

My favorite palm oil free products? Wine, definitely wine.

23. Where does your company ship internationally?

Currently we ship within Canada and to the United States. We hope to add more countries in the near future!

24. Do you have a message for your loyal customers, those who have supported your palm oil free commitment? 

Absolutely, I would love to send a massive heartfelt thank you to all of my awesome customers!! Many have been with me since the start and their loyalty is the #1 reason that I’m still in business today. I’m super grateful for each and every one of them.

25. What would you like to say to potential customers considering your products?

Any folks interested in trying The Eco Alchemist goods, I’d be happy to offer an exclusive discount to your readers, a 10% discount on their first order using code PALMFREE10 at checkout.

Check out The Eco Alchemist and their certified Palm Oil Free products.

The Eco Alchemist’s Certified Palm Oil Free Products

In addition to being Certified Palm Oil Free, their products are biodegradable, not tested on animals, and plastic free.

Haircare products

When you add their shampoos and conditioners to your online shopping cart, you will have the option to choose an FSC certified packaging option. You can choose either a recyclable box or compostable tissue paper. 


  • Let’s Get Toned Shampoo Bar
  • Non-Scents Shampoo Bar
  • Problem Solver Shampoo Bar
  • Grow Show Shampoo Bar
  • Rad Hair Day Shampoo Bar
  • Smooth Operator Shampoo Bar

Dry shampoo packaging and label are compostable and recyclable.

  • Yuzu + Magnesium Dry Shampoo Powder


  • Rad Hair Day Conditioner Bar
  • Let’s Get Toned Conditioner Bar
  • Non-Scents Conditioner Bar
  • Problem Solver Conditioner Bar
  • Grow Show Conditioner Bar
  • Smooth Operator Conditioner Bar

Body care products

Handcrafted Soaps:

When you add their handcrafted soaps to your online shopping cart, you have the option to choose a Low-waste option with No individual wrapping/label.

  • Orange + Vanilla Cream Handcrafted Soap
  • Maple + Chai Handcrafted Soap
  • Lavender Handcrafted Soap
  • Rosemary + Mint Handcrafted Soap

Bath Bars:

The packaging and labels are recyclable & home compostable.

  • Oat + Calendula Bubble Bath Bars 4pk
  • Non-Scents Bubble Bath Bars 4pk
The Eco Alchemist deodorant

The Eco Alchemist deodorant

Deodorant Sticks:

Their deodorant packaging is compostable.

  • Redwood + Mandarin Deodorant Stick
  • Vetiver + Spiced Bergamot Deodorant Stick
  • Citrus + Tonka Bean Deodorant Stick
  • Non-Scents Deodorant Stick
  • Vanilla + Coconut Sugar Deodorant Stick

Face care products


When buying the facial cleansing bar, customers can choose a FSC certified packaging option: Recycled box or Compostable Tissue Paper.

  • Coconut + Watermelon Facial Cleansing Bar
  • Coconut + Watermelon Facial Cleansing Powder


This comes in a reusable and recyclable glass bottle and glass dropper bottle.

  • AHA + Blue Tansy Overnight Elixir


The full size tube, including the label, is compostable or recyclable in paper recycling. The single size sachet + label are home compostable.

  • Vitamin C + Seabuckthorn Facial Mask Powder
  • Prebiotic + Activated Charcoal Facial Mask Powder
  • Moringa + Seaweed Facial Mask Powder
  • Oat + Niacinamide Facial Mask Powder


For refill orders, there is an option to reuse your dropper top from previous purchase.

  • Hemp + Cedarwood Men’s 3-in-1 Facial Oil
  • Abyssinian + Copaiba Resin Facial Oil
  • Blueberry + Cucumber Seed Facial Oil
  • Bakuchiol + Calendula Facial Oil
  • Niacinamide + Hyaluronic Acid Facial Serum

Taking the Steps to Certify Palm Oil Free

The Eco Alchemist took the necessary steps to certify Palm Oil Free with POFCAP. This shows their commitment and integrity. Their efforts bridge a significant gap in the Canadian personal care sector. 

They renew they renew their certification with POFCAP every 3 years. If at any time they wish to add an ingredient or change suppliers, they let them know. POFCAP then will reassess the product’s palm free status prior to the change being carried out and before the new formula is put out on the marketplace.

It’s one thing to say and possibly believe your products are palm oil free. But it’s important for consumers to understand they won’t typically see “palm oil” on ingredient labels for hair care, facial skin care, and body care products. 

With ongoing supply chain issues, sometimes raw materials suppliers’ ingredients change. This makes it even more important to ensure you are buying certified products. 

All of Their Products are Certified Palm Oil Free 

I am grateful to Ms. Kirkham for taking the time to answer my questions and for sharing her passion for her mission.  What makes The Eco Alchemist particularly noteworthy is their dual commitment: to product excellence and environmental ethics. 

They offer a range of shampoos, conditioners, soaps, masks, moisturizers, and deodorants that stand out for their quality and their commitment to the environment. They exemplify that it’s possible to craft top-tier personal care items without relying on palm oil derivatives.

Also check out Terri Kirkham’s tips for reducing palm oil consumption in my post: How to Use Less Palm Oil Each Week