Green Beauty: Upcycled Cosmetics and Reimagined Makeup Waste

The beauty and cosmetics industry, one of the fastest-growing sectors globally, was valued at $532 billion in 2019, according to a Forbes article. The Clean Hub reports that this industry generates at least 120 billion pieces of packaging each year, with nearly 95% of this packaging discarded after a single use, much of it plastic, which is harmful to the environment. Additionally, the industry sees about one billion lipstick tubes thrown out annually. As a substantial and rapidly expanding industry, it consumes vast amounts of resources, including 4 million tons of water yearly to produce makeup and cosmetic products, and reportedly, half of all makeup testers distributed in stores end up in landfills, as stated by Business Waste UK. Below, we explore some experimental clean, upcycled beauty products and brands that repurpose expired, used, and old makeup.


Upcycled Non-Toxic Black Pigment 

The Unseen Beauty, a material science company which produces conscious and intelligent beauty products, has collaborated with Living Ink, a bioresearch firm specialising in sustainable algae pigments, to introduce the world's first sustainable, non-toxic black pigment. Named 'Absorption,' this innovative collection includes mascara and eyeliner made from upcycled algae biomass. Unlike traditional black pigments derived from petroleum-based sources such as crude oil or coal, which are toxic, harmful, and potentially carcinogenic, Algae Black offers a sustainable and safe alternative. This creative product sets a new parameter for inventive advancement in eco-friendly and smart upcycled beauty solutions.

(Image credit: The Unseen Beauty Absorption Collection)


Upcycled Black Cherry Lip Oil

Byroe New York, a cruelty-free and vegan skincare brand, has recently launched a unique beauty lip oil infused with upcycled black cherries. This product introduces a subtle colour and also combats food waste by salvaging imperfect cherries that would otherwise be discarded for its appearance. Byroe New York brings a new technique to sustainable beauty by repurposing these misshapen fruits, often overlooked due to their aesthetically pleasing counterparts. Known for their use in wines and as a favourite among birds, black cherries bring a one-of-a-kind touch to this hydrating lip care solution. This venture represents a thoughtful mix of sustainability and lip care, with eco-friendly practices in the beauty industry.

(Image credit: Byroe New York Upcycled Lip Oil)



Reuses Old Makeup Into Wearable Art

British fashion designer Anika Leila is pioneering a new approach in the fashion industry by upcycling expired makeup into clothing designs. Her exceptional collection features garments adorned with quirky and endearing creature drawings, brought to life using colourful expired eyeshadows and eyeliners. Leila also upcycles unsellable fabrics into her creations, enhancing the sustainability of her work. Responding to the significant waste generated by the overproduction of makeup, the designer has developed a method to repurpose these materials through 3D printing techniques, applying expired makeup directly onto fabric. This innovative process reduces makeup waste and breathes new life into old products.

(Image credit: Anika Leila)


Upcycles Old Makeup Into Crayons

Miho Osawa has introduced Cosme No Ippo, a Tokyo-based upcycling project under Maison de Mou, which creatively repurposes old and unused makeup into colourful crayons. This initiative upcycles various cosmetic products, including lipstick, eyeshadow, foundation, and blushes, into new crayons, thereby reducing waste and extending the life of these materials. Through the use of vibrant colours extracted from these cosmetics, Cosme No Ippo produces beautifully upcycled colour crayons. This label helps in collecting and upcycling no-longer-used makeup and successfully contributes to the reduction of makeup and cosmetic product waste. The idea of converting discarded items into zero-waste sustainable products was brought to bring environmental sustainability in the beauty industry.

(Image credit: Cosme No Ippo - Maison De Mou)


Expired Makeup Watercolour Paint

Founded in the UK by Ameenah Begum, Planet Friendly Paint is a zero-waste paint label that transforms upcycled makeup into watercolour paints. This innovative venture collects donated cosmetic products such as blush, highlighter, and eyeshadows. By repurposing expired or unused makeup, the label addresses the problem of cosmetic waste, diverting these products from landfills and finding a new life for them through art. Planet Friendly Paint is upcycling unwanted makeup and making it usable for all artists to create eco-friendly, circular art, encouraging more sustainable measures and offering artists a sustainable medium to express their creativity.

(Image credit: Planet Friendly Paint by Ameenah Begum)


Upcycles Used Lipstick Cases

Rose Pirate, founded by Audrey Ducardonnet, is an uncommon, unique upcycling label based in France that breathes new life into used lipstick tubes by repurposing them as holders for vegan lip products. Ducardonnet, who has a background in chemical engineering and experience in the cosmetics field, including work with Chanel makeup, applies her expertise to guarantee the quality and sustainability of repackaging used lipstick cases. The process involves meticulously cleaning empty lipstick holders and refilling them with vegan, cruelty-free lip balms. This method gives a second life to existing products and offers a tailored service where customers can have their old or half-used lipsticks repacked with new vegan lip balm. For those who do not wish for a refill, they can still contribute their empty containers to be upcycled. Rose Pirate stands out as a sustainable label that addresses lipstick holder waste with a unique solution, extending the usability of lipstick cases with a more sustainable approach.

(Image credit: Rose Pirate Beauty Revival by Audrey Ducardonnet)

As we navigate the massive landscape of the beauty industry, the push for sustainable practices becomes increasingly crucial. Our exploration of clean, upcycled beauty products offers a glimpse into the innovative methods to reduce environmental impact. Discovering these eco-friendly techniques of upcycling expired makeup into new creations reveals ways to reduce waste in whatever way possible.

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