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From the trash can to the bathroom cabinet, waste is getting a second life in the beauty sector

Waste is now being repurposed to develop tomorrow's cosmetics. The aim is to avoid using new raw materials, all while driving down waste. What's not to like?

Published: Mar 23, 2023 02:32:58 PM IST
Updated: Mar 23, 2023 02:41:40 PM IST

From the trash can to the bathroom cabinet, waste is getting a second life in the beauty sector Waste is now being repurposed to develop tomorrow's cosmetics. Image: Shutterstock

What if the cosmetics of tomorrow came straight from our trash cans? As in fashion, waste is now worth its weight in gold in the beauty industry, with some brands snatching it up for use in new formulas. The aim is to avoid using new raw materials, all while driving down waste. What's not to like?

From tomato skins and olive pomace to cacao pods and clementine peelings, the beauty industry is reinventing as it seeks to make something new out of something previously unwanted. And the undesired stuff in question is none other than waste, which is usually buried or burned to the detriment of the environment. Many cosmetics brands are starting to delve into our garbage cans, especially those of the food industry, to concoct the cleansers, creams, serums and makeup removers of tomorrow. An initiative that aims not only to use existing resources, but also to fight against food waste and waste of all kinds that abounds in the four corners of the world.

From ketchup to mandarin juice

Never has Antoine Lavoisier's quote 'nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed' sounded so true as at a time when some of the most powerful industries are trying to reinvent themselves to reduce their impact on the planet. Because this new interest in waste is also linked to the need for beauty industry companies to reduce their environmental footprint, and to try to meet the new expectations of consumers, who are increasingly in search of ecological commitments.

This is something that the My Skin Feels brand is tackling head on, to the point of making waste a core part of its DNA. Born on the beaches of Brighton, on England's south coast, this beauty brand focuses primarily on organic ingredients from the food and drink industries that would otherwise have been thrown in the trash. And this helps makes each product—currently a moisturizer and a facial cleanser—unique, and sometimes even out of the ordinary.

For its two flagship products, the brand used mandarin fruit juice waste, stating that eight kilos of waste give rise to one liter of ingredients, and specifying that it does not add water to its products. But that's not all, as My Skin Feels also incorporated Italian tomato skins from ketchup waste, packed with antioxidants, as well as oat waste, known for its soothing properties, and waste from olive oil manufacturing, again hailed for its antioxidant properties. It looks like a bold move at first glance, but it's one that should inspire many cosmetics companies, as the potential of waste seems to be virtually unlimited.

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Putting waste in a bottle

The United Kingdom seems to be well ahead of the curve when it comes to turning waste into new resources, as another British brand, UpCircle Beauty, is embracing ingredients destined for the trash. Here, blueberry juice waste, date pits, chamomile stems, discarded spices, or even olive pits make up some or all of the ingredients in its signature products. The brand was founded well before the pandemic, in 2016, and now offers dozens of products.

Meanwhile, in France, the Cultiv brand upcycles waste products from French and organic agriculture, particularly the famous ugly vegetables that nobody—or almost nobody—wants to buy. Rooted in French agricultural cooperatives, as the brand explains on its website, Cultiv develops cosmetics based on beets, spinach, wild chicory, flax or rye, in the aim of respecting human health and the planet.

But facial and body care products aren't the only cosmetics looking to the virtues of agri-food waste, since the perfume industry is taking a close interest in the concept. The family group TechnicoFlor, for example, specializes in the creation and manufacture of aromatic compositions for the perfume and cosmetics industries, and has developed a whole collection of upcycled fragrances. White wine lees recovered from the deposits generated in wine barrels during the aging process, as well as woodworking waste, clementine peels, cocoa pods or even strawberry waste are all used in the composition of these fragrances, which are developed using leftovers from the food industry. All these initiatives show that certain sectors have everything to gain by reusing waste, which is currently responsible for polluting the soil and the oceans.