Upcycling Beauty: When Waste Becomes Active

Upcycling, also known as repurposing, is an approach gaining popularity in various industrial sectors, including the beauty industry. Aligned with the circular beauty movement, upcycling offers a new perspective on resource recovery by transforming waste into valuable products. This approach meets the growing expectations of consumers who, since the pandemic, are shifting towards a more responsible, sustainable, and committed consumption pattern. Moreover, the increased demand for transparency in the cosmetics field has driven companies to prioritize natural ingredients sourced locally and responsibly, in the creation of environmentally-friendly products.

What is Upcycling?

The food industry is proving to be a considerable source of upcycled ingredients used in cosmetics. Each year, almost a third of all food produced is wasted, including around 40% of fruit and vegetables. These leftovers are often considered “ugly” or “decategorized” by the food industry, yet they contain many beneficial active ingredients for the skin. This increasing volume of food waste can serve as an innovative resource for creating cosmetic ingredients.

Upcycling thus makes it possible to transform waste from various industries into natural resources. Beyond addressing consumers’ environmental concerns, upcycling offers multiple benefits, including the valorization of plant-based co-products, extraction by-products (resulting from the total exhaustion of raw materials) and plant co-products (such as seeds, stems, grape seeds, etc.). By transforming these different sources into products of interest, this approach confers a new value on waste, representing a step towards a more environmentally responsible approach.


Upcycling by Solabia

Upcycling in Cosmetics: More Than Just a Trend

Today’s consumers are increasingly concerned about the environmental impact of the beauty products they use. Recent trends, such as a Mintel report in 2021, reveal that 55% of American consumers are highly concerned about these issues, while 50% of Chinese consumers cite waste pollution among their top five environmental concerns.

This global consumer awareness regarding waste management, and the environment more generally, is prompting industries to redefine ingredient life cycles to achieve circular beauty.

Upcycling in cosmetics goes beyond the simple recovery of industrial waste. It promotes circularity throughout the entire supply chain, thus reducing reliance on rare and expensive raw materials. This approach has a positive environmental impact, easing pressure on natural resources and helping to combat food waste. This significant response to the growing awareness of environmental impact has led to an increased demand for planet-friendly cosmetic products.

The Solabia Offering:

Solabia is committed to environmentally friendly practices through its upcycling approach, transforming once-neglected treasures into valuable, eco-friendly beauty solutions:


Coffee cherries or cascara are sourced in Bolivia and sourced from organically farmed and FairTrade-certified coffee trees. Rich in polyphenols, cascara is known for its energizing and antioxidant properties. In the cosmetic industry, cascara is given a second life as a Beauty Booster, even though it is often considered waste from the coffee industry.

Lemon Peel

Belonging to the Rutaceae family, lemons are hand-harvested in a mountain region of the Mediterranean area. The bark, often neglected, can actually be a powerful asset for our skin ! The lemon peel contains flavonoids, providing antioxidant properties. A symbol of freshness, lemons are also known for their purifying properties.

Pearlescent Oyster

Harvested in La Rochelle (France), the pearlescent oyster is full of benefits. This 100% marine material contains minerals like zinc, calcium, and magnesium, provides gentle exfoliation to the skin while also and utilizing shells that would have otherwise been wasted.

To go further…

Solabia also offers active ingredients from upcycling for skin and hair:

BLUESHIELD®: Blue light pollution Defender

An eco-friendly active ingredient derived from “second choice” aesthetic red bell peppers from the food industry, farmed in a committed cooperative in the Loiret area (France). BlueShield® protects the skin from the 2 major damaging effects of blue light, mainly photo oxidation and photoreceptor disruption.

Saniscalp®: Purifying, rebalancing scalp

An active ingredient derived from a co-product of passion fruit seeds, also known as seedcake. By protecting the scalp from inflammation and strengthening its natural defenses, Saniscalp® meets the scalp’s need for skinification through its overall rebalancing action.

Upcycling, The Future of Sustainable Beauty

In conclusion, upcycling is much more than just a trend. It’s an approach that is guiding the cosmetics industry towards a more sustainable future, aligning with the expectations of environmentally conscious consumers.  By valorizing naturally sourced waste and creating molecules of interest, upcycling is the key to a more virtuous and sustainable beauty, enabling brands to meet the growing needs of a market seeking eco-responsible products. It’s one more step towards a beauty that not only prettifies us, but also preserves our planet.

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