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UPCYCLING - Do your skin and the environment a favour!



[Translate to English:] Für Haut und Umwelt

Sustainability has long since become more than a temporary trend. Globally, we are seeing growing ecological awareness and, even in cosmetics, consumers are looking for natural formulations and demanding that producers treat nature with respect. The topic of sustainability is becoming an increasingly important one and is developing into a major differentiation point for cosmetic brands.

Young people, especially, are paying increasing attention to the issues of ingredients, environmental protection, and ecology. In the cosmetics industry, the trend is heading towards refillable packaging and minimizing the use of packaging overall, and Mintel expects the zero-waste trend to be the movement that defines 2019. 

At the same time, the amount of waste from other industries is increasing nonstop. Many producing companies are generating all kinds of by-products that are in fact rich in valuable contents.

This is where upcycling comes in. Upcycling is the conversion of seemingly useless by-products into substances that are as good as new ones. Making full use of all components in a process reduces the demand for newly sourced raw materials, and that ultimately protects the resources we have left. This kind of recycling of supposed waste products makes an important contribution towards sustainability.


Inspiration for upcycling cosmetics

Many of these valuable by-products are ideally suited to producing a wide variety of raw materials and active ingredients. 

Natural scrub particles from by-products

One way in which the cosmetics industry is responding to the growing demand for natural ingredients is by transforming food industry by-products into scrub particles. Enormous quantities of seeds are left over from the production of fruit juices and jams from stone fruits, in particular. For an Apricot Exfoliator, for example, the stones are first pressed to extract their oil, after which the normally unused pressing residues are converted into scrub particles. The brown fruit stone fragments emphasize the natural character of the product, are easy to work in, and are stable in almost every kind of formulation.

Use of pressing residues

There is yet another way to use pressing residues in order to obtain active ingredients for cosmetics. A new, innovative cosmetic ingredient has been obtained from the press cake left behind after extracting oil from sea buckthorn, which had never been used before. The flavone glycosides contained in the press cake are eliminated by water extraction and separated off to yield a skin-tightening product that acts on the epigenetic level.

Gentle scrub particles from fruit peel and seeds

The peels from citrus fruits are abundant by-products of the fruit juice industry and are excellently suited to creating gentle scrubs for sensitive skin. Additionally, some fruits have spherical or hemispherical seeds that glide gently over the skin and create beautiful visual effects in formulations. Every year, the food industry also discards giant quantities of nutshells from different kinds of nuts, where the hardness and excellent abrasive effect of these shells makes them ideal for body scrubs.

Active ingredients from unused waste from the rambutan fruit

The peels and seeds of fruits can thus be used not only to produce functional raw materials, but also to obtain active ingredients.
These kinds of residues from the rambutan fruit, a relative of the lychee and a highly popular food in Asia, serve as a basis for two efficient raw materials with moisturizing or wrinkle-reducing action. Even the leaves that are dropped from the cultivated rambutan trees can be processed to yield an antioxidant active ingredient for the scalp.

Extract from chestnut shells

Another example of making good use of previously discarded waste is a polyphenol-rich extract from chestnut shells. This yields an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory active ingredient for tightening the skin. Even irregularly shaped artichoke heads, which are unsuitable for sale, can be used in skin care to achieve a more youthful looking skin. 

Active ingredient from valuable by-products of perfume manufacture

Vetiver, a tropical sweet grass, is highly popular in the perfume industry. The essential oil is drawn out of the roots by various methods. It turns out that these “exhausted” roots are still rich in zizanonic acid, which is capable of re-stimulating lipid synthesis in skin. That means an active ingredient can be extracted that acts against sagging skin and provides optimal moisturization.


“Upcycling” – an approach as an opportunity

Today’s consumers pay very close attention to the effects of their actions on the environment, and expect brands to show the same kind of commitment towards environmental responsibility. The “upcycling” approach offers cosmetics producers the opportunity to reduce waste throughout all sectors, and thus to minimise their negative environmental footprint. At the same time, it presents the opportunity to position oneself as an innovator and to assume a leading role within the industry. 


Leslie Schlüter

Senior Product & Sales Manager

During my studies in biology I never thought I would end up in sales in the Personal Care industry. But as life goes, it happened about 7 years ago. I postgraduated in business administration and the mixture of scientific content (anti-pollution, microbiom, epigenetics...) and sales is a thrilling experience for me. I have been working for IMPAG in Germany since November 2017.

My biggest hobby is food...and sports (jogging, swimming, cycling, diving...) to indulge the former without a guilty conscience. But as I don't like cooking, my husband is taking over for me.

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