August 05, 2021

Upcycled Beauty and How We're Repurposing Ingredients for New Products

By Katrina Borissova
Upcycled Beauty and How We're Repurposing Ingredients for New Products

Have you heard about upcycled beauty and are curious to learn more about what it is, how it works, and how you can find upcycled ingredients in your beauty and skincare products? Well, we've got you covered.

In this article, you will learn the ins and outs of upcycling and how it's used in the beauty industry to create a circular economy that benefits your skin and the planet. Plus, we share what upcycled ingredients we're using in our latest products.

What is upcycling?

The word "upcycle" is a verb, meaning to reuse discarded objects or materials in such a way as to create a product of higher quality or value than the original. This process transforms byproducts, waste materials, and other discarded or unwanted objects into something new and exciting—something that people want to use and find great joy from.


What is upcycling in beauty?

In the beauty industry, upcycling is all about repurposing those leftover ingredients or everyday food waste items that can be reused to create a circular economy by formulating those ingredients into something beautiful and valuable. Beauty brands can thus focus on sustainability not just through their packaging but also from the source and life of their ingredients.


What is a circular economy?

It's no secret that our world faces countless environmental challenges, from the unending supply of plastic to the dangers of climate change. And what most of these environmental issues have in common is their connection to waste.

A circular economy aims to change that. It is an economic system or collection of strategies that tackle our global environmental challenges like climate change, ocean degradation, biodiversity loss, and excess waste. It combines different strategies such as reduce, reuse, recycle with newer practices to transform our global economy and our relationship to waste. In contrast to older, more linear practices, a circular economy aims to keep products, materials, equipment, and infrastructure in use for longer to reduce waste and allow nature more time for regeneration.

The circular economy is all about creativity and innovation. It encourages us to ask how we can optimize this resource, waste less, and create a more sustainable global economy.

What materials can you upcycle?

With the magic of upcycling, what once was considered trash, can now become something used and treasured by those who enjoy it. So what materials can be upcycled for use in the beauty industry? It turns out there's a lot we can use.


Fruit and Vegetable Byproducts

In Europe alone, 250 million tonnes of food waste and byproducts are created each year. And that's just part of it. The Swedish Institute of Food and Biotechnology estimated in a 2011 report that roughly one-third of edible food parts produced for human consumption was lost or wasted, corresponding to about 1.3 billion tonnes of food lost per year. The complex food supply chain means that food waste has many contributing factors, and some food waste is inevitable—but it doesn't need to be to this degree.

Some leading causes of food waste come from both retail and consumer ends. In stores, it's often due to limited shelf life and aesthetic standards, while in homes, it's caused by poor meal planning, excess buying, and confusion over "best before" and "use by" claims.

According to Upcycled Beauty, a significant portion of the fruit and vegetable waste can be avoided by upcycling various byproducts such as discarded olive pits and leftover fruit pulp from juice production. Other products like citrus peels, coffee and cacao bean waste, tea waste, and dried fruit seeds and skins can be used to create extracts, essential oils, and other beneficial ingredients for the natural beauty industry.

Nearly any food waste material that can benefit the skin can potentially be upcycled, as long as that material is fresh and free of germs and any possible contamination. 


Plant-Based Leftovers

It's not all about food waste when it comes to plants; there's plenty of other plant-based materials that can be repurposed, too, such as charcoal powder derived from leftover wood fragments. This also includes those olive pits and dried fruit seeds leftover from olive oil and juice and jam production.


Post-Consumer Waste

There is so much opportunity for upcycling and repurposing with post-consumer waste, from paper products to plastic water bottles and old coffee cups that can be turned into something more long term like tee shirts, activewear, pens, and even furniture.

Unwanted Produce

The fruit and vegetable industry (and consumers) are incredibly picky, leaving more than 50 million tonnes of fresh fruit and vegetables unused and unwanted in Europe alone—just because of how they look. To combat this, companies like Upcycled Beauty take unwanted or misshapen white rice that's not good enough for retail and repurpose it into exfoliating rice powders and scrubs.

Upcycled Ingredients We Use:

Repurposed Coffee in Soaps from My Little Cup

We've partnered with local coffee shop My Little Cup to create Iskra, our exfoliating body soap that smells amazing, is part of a circular economy, and packs loads of benefits.


Coffee Benefits for the Skin

Coffee grounds are the leftover bits of coffee bean that typically go into the bin right after you've brewed your morning (or afternoon) cup. But these coffee leftovers are incredibly beneficial for the skin. Their texture exfoliates, helping to smooth and improve skin's appearance, and may even help reduce cellulite by promoting blood circulation.

Coffee is also one of the largest sources of polyphenols, the antioxidants that help protect our skin and body against daily stressors. These polyphenols help protect the skin against premature ageing, reduce inflammation and hyperpigmentation, and help treat skin redness, blemishes, and wrinkles.

Orange Peel Powder

Fresh orange peels that would otherwise be discarded from supermarkets, juice bars, and restaurants can be upcycled and transformed into orange peel powder. This all-natural herbal powder contains higher concentrations of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and phytonutrients than the fruit itself.

Orange Peel Powder Benefits for the Skin

Orange peel powder is rich in vitamin C, an antioxidant known for its skincare benefits. Vitamin C can help to stimulate collagen and elastin production, keep skin looking bright and glowing, smooths and softens skin, and can help unclog pores, even skin tone, and reduce blackheads by balancing oil production.

Ground Olive Stone

Olive stone powder comes from the seeds (also called pits and stones) of quality olive pits that would otherwise be tossed away after the olive fruit was used for oil or other consumer products. The stones are finely ground into a powder that offers natural exfoliation benefits.

Ground Olive Stone Benefits for the Skin

These ground olive stones are naturally odourless and gentle, making them perfect for those with sensitive skin who want an easy wash-off exfoliating scrub to use in the shower or bath. The stone's grit is incredibly stable, and its natural granules are uniform in size, so it exfoliates more efficiently than other scrubs on the market.