Using Upcycled Ingredients Is the Biggest Sustainability Trend in Beauty

Graphic by Danielle Campbell

These beauty brands’ use of upcycled ingredients proves that one person’s trash will always be another’s — often luxe — treasure.

Waste is an inevitable part of the farming industry. Crops are discarded daily for a plethora of reasons, including the weather, market prices and — believe it or not — aesthetics. In fact, an estimated 40 per cent of total food waste is attributed to grocery stores’ strict cosmetic standards. In other words, wonky-looking and misshapen (but perfectly-good-to-eat) fruits and vegetables are turned away because of their appearance. Talk about judging a book by its cover. As a result, sustainably minded brands are on a mission to give produce and plants that have been discarded — for whatever reason — a second life by using upcycled ingredients in their formulations.

Le Prunier Plum Beauty Oil

Plums are at the heart of California-based brand Le Prunier, thanks to the fruit’s multitude of health benefits. The company’s hero product, Plum Beauty Oil, is formulated using 100 per cent upcycled plum kernels, a waste by-product from the fourth-generation family farm that produces the brand’s ingredients.

Body Proud Bright Boost Body Moisturiser

By using upcycled grapefruit peels that have been discarded by the juice industry in its Bright Boost Body Moisturiser, “Body Proud not only reduces waste but also contributes to a greener, more circular economy,” says Maria Sarris, the brand’s NPD manager.

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Nina Ricci Nina Le Parfum

“As a perfumer, I want to be eco-responsible,” says Olivier Cresp, the nose behind the most recent addition to the Nina Ricci scent family. “I like to use all parts of an ingredient, to avoid waste.” Nina uses entire upcycled lemons (including the zest, juice and skin) that have been rejected by fruit markets. “The peel actually contains a higher concentration of aromatic molecules, including the characteristic citrusy scent,” says Cresp.

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Sangre de Fruta Garden of Earthly Delights Botanical Conditioner

The cedar oil found in Sangre de Fruta’s Garden of Earthly Delights range is sourced from offcuts from Canadian-grown cedar boughs, twigs and leaves that would otherwise have gone to waste. The beloved scent can be shopped in the brand’s cult-favourite shampoo, conditioner, body wash, lotion and hand soap.

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Sana Jardin Paris Sandalwood Temple Eau de Parfum

In rural Morocco, where Sana Jardin Paris’s floral ingredients are harvested, over 900 tonnes of orange-blossom by-product normally end up in landfills. But through the brand’s Beyond Sustainability circular business model, local female harvesters learn how to upcycle the botanical waste from perfume production and use it to create candles and flower water that they can sell on the side, keeping 100 per cent of the profits for themselves.

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Moroccanoil Frizz Shield Spray

This frizz-fighting must-have uses upcycled jackfruit extract alongside its hero ingredient, argan oil, to prevent frizz and protect against damage.

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Ellis Brooklyn West Eau de Parfum

Fragrance brand Ellis Brooklyn uses upcycled ingredients (like oranges that were previously juiced and leftover cedarwood shavings from lumber and construction projects), and extracts oils that are then used in fragrance formulations.

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This article first appeared in FASHION’s April 2024 issue. Find out more here.

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