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Upcycled food could be the future of cosmetics

Words by Smiley Team

With the burgeoning demand for sustainable beauty products, more companies are reaching out to eco-friendly alternatives. After ditching plastic packaging and going vegan, brands are starting to upcycle ingredients in the latest push towards circular cosmetics.

"We're definitely going to see more upcycled ingredients in beauty, especially as brands explore new ways to be sustainable," predicts Michelle Fry, the co-founder of eco skincare brand Good Faith.

What upcycling means exactly varies from company to company. But in all cases, it seems like positive news for the environment. Right now, most mainstream beauty products use non-sustainable ingredients that negatively impact nature, wildlife and the climate. 

Palm oil is just one such ingredient, used in about half of all consumer goods. Its production is linked to deforestation and the extinction of many animal species. Other common ingredients contribute to coral bleaching, reproductive issues in animals and other forms of ecological harm.

[Read more positive news about progress towards more responsible consumption and production]

As a switch away from these destructive ingredients, upcycling offers some hope that the industry can change. Firstly, the process involves using materials that would otherwise go to landfills, helping to reduce waste. On top of this, upcycled ingredients are natural and biodegradable, meaning that if they are flushed into the environment they do not cause the same damage as synthetic ingredients.

These ingredients are produced with a wide range of food byproducts. These range from olive oil waste to citrus fruit zest, from coffee and tea to cacao waste. Manufacturers are using dried fruit seeds chucked away by juice and jam manufacturers as well as many other organic materials. 

“Basically all food waste materials that have a positive effect for the skin can be upcycled," explains Maximilian Munz, the co-founder of upcycled cosmetics brand C!RCLY.

Using these waste products, brands are able to produce pigmentation and preservatives such as essential oils - one of the main ingredients in most natural and organic beauty products.

Progressive cosmetics companies turning to upcycling include Farmacy, whose Honey Potion Plus face mask uses upcycled apple extract for moisture and antioxidant-rich blueberry seed oil. 

Similarly, skincare brand Le Prunier produces its moisturisers and sunscreens exclusively from upcycled, organic plum kernels. Others on the scene include Uni, using upcycled olive stones, and Good Faith, which uses grapeseed oil from winemaking waste.

Inspired to act?

DONATE: Spur on the upcycled food trend by donating to Upcycled Food Foundation.


This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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