Upcycled Ingredients for Skin Care and Cosmetics

white cream in cosmetics bottle on the sand

With climate change headlines dominating the news and the evidence of the climate crisis taking place right in front of our eyes, environmental consciousness is taking hold in industries across the globe. This also goes for the beauty industry, which is currently undergoing a significant transformation to meet the needs of increasingly eco-conscious consumers seeking sustainable alternatives to traditional skin care and cosmetic products. 

What is the beauty industry doing to combat climate change?

To meet the sustainability needs and desires of consumers, the industry has invested in innovation, leading to the research and adoption of upcycled ingredients in sustainable beauty. Afterall, by repurposing and transforming organic waste into valuable resources, upcycling not only reduces waste but also provides an array of benefits for our skin – that’s something we can all get behind. 

In this blog post, we will explore the fascinating world of upcycled natural byproduct ingredients and dive further into why they are becoming an increasingly popular choice for your eco-conscious consumers. But, as always, let’s first cover the basics so we’re all on the same page.

What are upcycled ingredients?

We’re so glad you asked. Upcycling is a subset of recycling where you transform something that would otherwise be waste and turn it into something of higher value. This is different than recycling plastics which is considered “downcycling”. With upcycling, you use materials that would otherwise be thrown into the garbage, and in turn, are able to reduce waste and minimize the environmental impact of consumer goods. When it comes to skin care and cosmetic products, upcycling focuses on using natural ingredients to formulate the products.

What natural, upcycled ingredients are used to enhance skin care or beauty products?

The byproducts most people think of when formulating new skin care or beauty products are the following:

Fruit and vegetable peels

When life gives you lemons (or oranges, grapefruit, etc.), you take the peels and use them to your advantage. Citrus fruits are chock full of antioxidants and vitamin C, and can be upcycled into facial scrubs, toners, brightening masks, and more. Vegetable peels from cucumbers or carrots are also skin care and beauty contenders. 

bowl of tangerine on a wooden table

Coffee grounds

That morning cup of coffee is something many of us look forward to – but instead of throwing away those used coffee grounds, think about their other uses. When incorporated into skin care products, coffee grounds act as a gentle exfoliator, effectively removing dead skin cells and leaving your skin feeling smooth and refreshed. Plus, the caffeine content in coffee helps reduce puffiness and invigorate the skin.

coffee beans

Tea leaves

After steeping your tea, a lot of times tea leaves or tea bags are discarded. However, the materials inside the bag can be reused to create soothing facial toners or infused in carrier oils for aromatic massage blends. Green tea and chamomile possess anti-inflammatory properties and are beneficial for sensitive or irritated skin.

cup of tea

Nut Shells

Ground nut shells (e.g., walnut or almond shells) can be finely ground and used as a physical exfoliant in facial and body scrubs. These natural exfoliants gently remove impurities and dead skin cells, revealing a smoother and brighter complexion.


nut shells


Flowers are not just something we plant or pick to decorate our dining room tables – they also possess remarkable benefits for our skin. Upcycling discarded flowers into floral infusions creates soothing toners and facial mists that can hydrate, calm, and balance the skin. Rose petals, chamomile, and lavender are popular choices due to their calming and anti-inflammatory properties.

bouquet of flowers

Seaweed and algae

Yes, hello, that would be us! Seaweed and algae – indeed we’re talking about the very seaweed found on your local beach – can be upcycled into skin care or cosmetic ingredients. This marine byproduct is rich in proteins (amino acids), minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants, offering hydration, detoxification, and anti-aging properties. At SeaBalance, we upcycle sargassum seaweed as the main input for our sustainable and proprietary green chemistry process. This yields an oil-in-water emulsifier that works well in both cold and hot processed skin care products which we call SeaBalance. Learn more about seaweed benefits for skin

Seaweed at the beach shore

3 key benefits of opting for upcycled ingredients in your skin care and beauty products

When thinking about why you should switch to skin care or beauty products that incorporate naturally upcycled ingredients, consider the following:

Do your part in contributing to the sustainability movement

We understand that buying some products is a necessity for you. And that’s why we wouldn’t ask you not to buy them. But consider this – by utilizing ingredients that would otherwise go to waste, upcycling reduces the strain on landfills and minimizes the energy and resources required to produce new products. By choosing products that have upcycled ingredients, you’re helping to promote a circular economy where waste is transformed into valuable resources again and again. 

The products are more likely to be natural and chemical-free

Upcycled natural ingredients are free from harmful chemicals often found in conventional skin care products. They offer a cleaner and safer alternative, allowing your skin to breathe and thrive without exposure to potentially harmful substances. You’ll also reap these benefits over time by giving your skin natural goodness each time you apply your products. 

Upcycling leads to naturally nutrient-rich skin care or makeup products

As we shared above, a lot of upcycled ingredients are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that nourish and revitalize your skin from the outside-in. Harness the power of nature to improve the texture, appearance, and overall health of your skin.

If you’re officially sold that upcycled ingredients are what you need in your next skin care or beauty haul – we can’t blame you! – then here’s what you need to know.

How to verify that a beauty brand is using upcycled ingredients

We recommend checking out The Upcycled Beauty Company (we swear we aren’t being paid to say that!). They are making it increasingly easier and more transparent for consumers to purchase products that are lighter on the earth. They’ve conducted thorough research and developed a directory of upcycled ingredient brands. We recommend perusing their database to find out where the current brands you use stand, and which ones might be best for your next purchase. 

If you’d like to learn more about how SeaBalance uses upcycled ingredients to develop our proprietary emulsifier, please reach out. We’d love to hear from you.

girl's leg at the beach with white cream on her leg with a heart shape






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