Upcycled Raw Materials in Cosmetics

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Upcycled Raw Materials in Cosmetics

Another growing trend amongst the environmentally conscious is the use of upcycled raw materials in cosmetic development and manufacture. This practice seeks to tackle the problem of waste in cosmetic formulation and to discover more sustainable practices.

What is Upcycling?

Where recycling is the practice of reusing waste materials to create a new product, upcycling is a subcategory of this whereby it reuses waste material in order to create a higher quality product.

When looking at the food processing industry, the amount of waste that has been produced over the years has consistently been increasing. Non-edible by-products and waste water are the main items that are usually discarded and not recycled or upcycled; this includes seeds, stems, leaves and skins.

Upcycling aims to find the most planet-friendly extraction technique to recover these items, without endangering their stability. Due to the similar chemical composition of these by-products to their other edible parts, they have the capability to be upcycled into high-quality products.

Examples of Upcycled Raw Materials Used in Cosmetics

Misshapen Fruit & Vegetables

Although supermarkets have recently embraced the oddly shaped fruit and vegetables to sell to customers, this is not always successful. Their unattractive appearance, however, does not faze some cosmetic companies.

For example, the Body Shop have released a vegan carrot skincare range which is ‘enriched with organic carrots that are too beautifully crooked to sell to the food industry’. In addition to this, they also have Mango, Satsuma and Strawberry ranges that all contain seed oils.


As one of the most popular drinks, there is undoubtedly waste that can be upcycled from coffee. Unused coffee beans, silver skin/husks and spent coffee grounds are all waste products that can be, and have been, upcycled into certain cosmetics. For example, coffee grounds are an effective exfoliating scrub.

When looking at all of these coffee by-products, there are a huge variety of healthy molecules that are vital for skincare. Mainly antioxidants, which provide anti-aging protection, UVB protection, increased skin hydration and skin repair stimulation.


Mandarin, grapefruit, lemon and lime all fall under the citrus category and all produce waste by-products when manufactured. Leaves, peel, molasses and seeds make up over half of the citrus fruit composition and are all considered as non-edible waste. However, it has been discovered that these elements contain essential oils, vitamin E, flavonoids, plus more.

Citrus peel actually has the strongest antimicrobial activity which means that is it an effective preservative. Flavonoids have the ability to protect skin cells from UV rays too, so it is safe to say that citrus by-products have the ability to provide skincare protection.

Olive Oil

Olive oil is a staple in every kitchen, but its production generates huge amounts of waste. This waste consists mainly of polyphenols which, if discarded, can cause great harm to the bio-system with build-up of toxic concentration. After studying these polyphenols for their biological properties, antioxidants were discovered along with other benefits.

Olive oil waste has been found to protect DNA from oxidative damage and preserve natural ingredients in cosmetics. Plus, the antioxidant activity on the skin also promotes the stimulation of collagen which results in anti-aging effects.

Benefits of Using Upcycled Raw Ingredients

As these are just a few examples of how food waste can be transformed into high quality ingredients for cosmetics and skin care, there are a number of benefits that can result from this.

Nowadays, the advancement in technology together with the conscious consumers and companies, sustainable processes are able to be implemented. Overall, the waste produced from industrially processed foods can be reduced, therefore reducing the negative impact on the environment and increasing the positive impact on skin health.

Plus, brands that utilise upcycled raw materials in production have the ability to tell a unique story. This provenance builds a connection with the consumer whilst supporting the environmental, economic and social benefits of including these ingredients.

What About the Waste from the By-Products?

Nonetheless, there is still the question of how sustainable it is to extract these beneficial elements from these waste products and what happens to the waste from this. The extraction, treatment and transformation processes are complex, and the recycling of further by-products adds further complexity due to neutralisation.

Jarvis Cosmetics are ambassadors for planet-friendly products and processes and are determined to find ways to upcycle responsibly. We are constantly reviewing our operations with a view towards responsible uses of all resources and ingredients.

If you would like to discuss this topic with our industry experts, please get in touch.


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