Author: Elizabeth Bennett

Circular has become a big buzzword in the world of sustainability and rightly so. Brands that choose to operate with circular principles prioritise the continued use of resources and within this closed loop system waste is greatly reduced. Subsequently, it’s a win-win for the planet and its people.

Circular-based businesses have been popping up across many consumer categories including fashion, food and furniture and recently the beauty industry is getting in on the action too.

Exciting innovation has seen a rise in upcycled ingredients with brands finding interesting ways to formulate beauty products using food or farming waste. Similarly, forward-thinking companies are tackling the mammoth packaging problem (more than 120 billion units of packaging are produced globally every year by the cosmetics industry), by experimenting with unusual materials that align with circular principles.

Read on to find about six different beauty brands making waves in this space…


UpCircle arguably pioneered this movement back in 2016 when they started collecting waste coffee grounds from London’s many baristas and transforming them into scrubs and soaps. The brand’s circular philosophy is at the core of what they do and salvaging natural ingredients to create high quality skin care is their raison d’être. They have gone on to pioneer a whole host of other products using food and drink industry waste like chai tea syrup and fruit stones and their entire affordable skincare range is also packaged in totally recyclable containers.


Margate-based Hacekels is a skin, body and bath brand built on sustainable principles with aims to aid the planet’s ocean crisis. Hacekels have been doing lots of exciting work in the packaging space, most notably working with mycelium. Hacekels grow mycelium – the vegetative part of a fungus that functions like plastic – to use as outer packaging for their products. The webs of thread-like roots consume crop waste and after use it can simply be returned to the earth by decomposition in the soil. When decomposed with seaweed (one of Haeckel’s core ingredients), it actually improves soil quality.

The Body Shop

Historically associated with driving the ban against animal testing long before sustainability was mainstream, The Body Shop are still doing plenty of innovative planet-friendly work. In 2019, the high street stalwart launched a number of products using upcycled ingredients. The Carrot Face Wash and Carrot Cream Daily Moisturiser use wonky carrots that would have otherwise been disposed of while the Banana Bath Blend makes use of second-choice bananas and the Berry Bath Blend is enriched with strawberry seed oil leftover from jam making.


Lush are another example of a large-scale brand doing right by the planet. Famed for their wide range of zero-waste products (their ‘naked’ face, body and hair bars come with no packaging whatsoever), they have also pioneered clever innovations with materials too. Their cork pots are one of the only packaging types that can claim to actually be planet-positive. Designed to store naked products on-the-go, the 100% natural, reusable and biodegradable pot is carbon-positive and removes over 33 times its weight in carbon dioxide. Sourced from southern Portugal, Lush gives back by supporting rewilding projects in the region.

Byre Bodycare

The dairy industry annually wastes 870,000 tonnes of whey, a by-product of milk and cheese production, and Byre Bodycare are on a mission to make better use of it. With whey being a highly efficacious and nutritious ingredient, they have used it to create a range of luxury natural body washes. Also enriched with aloe vera, sustainable poppy seed oil, vitamins and natural extracts, the rich creamy formulations cleanse and nourish the skin while Byre Bodycare donate a percentage of profits to farmers in need.


FRUU’s range of lip and body balms are all made in small batches in their UK workshop largely from ingredients produced as a by-product of processed fruit waste. For example, they use avocado oil from overly ripe avocados not able to be sold in supermarkets. In a bid to be as circular as possible, they aim to include between 30% and 60% byproduct ingredients in each formula and for every product to be entirely biodegradable and recyclable. Not only does sourcing ingredients in this way create less waste, it also provides vital extra revenue for struggling small fruit farmers.

Adopting a circular economy is one of the key pillars in ensuring the health of the planet and its people for the longterm. On an individual basis, investing in circular businesses is one way to push this development forward and making switches to the products in your bathroom is a good start. Considering the exciting innovation in this category – from upcycled ingredients to biodegradable or planet-positive packaging – it’s never been easier.