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What is Circular Beauty and Why is it Important?

Circular beauty like the term circular economy refers to a looped cycle that aims to change the linear take, make, use, dispose, pollute model to one that instead involves a make, use, reuse, remake, recycle mentality to keep materials in use longer, to make better, more efficient use of resources, and reduce or eliminate waste and pollution.

In the beauty industry it may seem like an impossible dream -- it is certainly challenging, but it is a trend that beauty companies, Indie, and artisan brands are embracing.

Let's take a closer look at what circular beauty is and some ways it can be incorporated into cosmetic formulations.

A circular economy involves keeping products and materials in use, reducing or eliminating pollution, and regenerating natural systems.

Lorranine Dallmeier, CEO of Formula Botanica and host of Green Beauty Conversations Podcast defines circular beauty as having four components:

  1. Working with nature -- this involves minimizing the use of natural resources, using sustainably sources materials, and ingredients that benefit the environment (such as carbon dioxide sequestering algae in formulations or to develop raw materials).

  2. Keeping resources in use by upcycling ingredients and refilling or reusing packaging. Since cosmetic products are intended to be absorbed by the skin or hair and are absorbed, evaporate, washed or sloughed off, or discarded truly circular beauty is certainly a challenge. Or can we create more efficient products that consumers use in lower amounts or less frequently?

  3. Avoid or minimize waste. Can we create cosmetics with little to no packaging or minimize waste by refilling or reusing packaging? Can we reconsider the design of formulations and strive to reduce the consumption of natural resources both in the formulations and in the making of formulations?

  4. Regenerate natural capital. In a healthy ecosystem there is no "waste". Rather everything is food for something else and is part of a balanced "ecoweb". Can we find ways to model nature's example in the cosmetic industry?

Leading the way in this movement are brands such as UpCircle a pioneer brand who began using spent coffee grounds and turned them into 3 in 1 scrubs and body washes packaged in recyclable containers. Hacekels who uses mycelium from fungus to create packaging. And of course Lush with naked packaging and ecofriendly cork pots.

Other innovative brands upcycle grape seeds and vines to extract compounds for skin care (Caudalie) or use food waste such as over ripe avocados (FRUU), subpar vegetables (Body Shop), whey left over from cheesemaking (Byre), or chocolate industrial byproducts (Rabot 1745).

These examples are inspiring and really have me thinking about myself as a formulator. And while the concept of circular beauty can seem overwhelming it is up to those of us in the cosmetic industry to begin working towards this concept.

Some small steps I'm personally working towards as a formulator is to create a shampoo bar with minimal packaging and conciensious ingredients. A shampoo bar will reduce plastic waste and water use. I intend to use EcoCert or Cosmos certified and sustainable ingredients as much as possible but still create a product that works well. I'm hoping to release this product late fall.

I've also been experimenting creating formulations that include an emulsifier made with Chlorella vulgaris which adds nourishing properties to the formulation and is made using sustainably harvested and manufactured coconut palm oil and this concept has me thinking more about really getting to know the ingredients I use in my products


I've been increasing my knowledge of organic skin and hair care formulations as well as taking a look at my own practices: how much waste am I producing? How can I be a better steward natural resources? Can I redesign any of my formulations with a circular beauty mindset? Can I partner with any local businesses to upcycle ingredients?

How about you? Do you think circular beauty is truly possible despite the challenges? Do you have any brands that practice aspects of circular beauty that you love? Please share your thoughts on the topic of circular beauty. I'd love to hear what you think.

Aromatic blessings,



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