According to the United Nations, around a third of all food destined for human consumption is lost or wasted, from primary food production right up to food preparation and consumption. Not only does this wasteful behavior squander precious resources, like water, land and energy, but needlessly produces greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. It has been a wake-up call to the beauty industry to invest in and develop products created from food waste ingredients.
Food ingredients, especially superfoods, have long been used in skincare and haircare formulations, but food from waste is a much newer and more eco-friendly development. Across the industry, from smaller beauty ingredients companies to projects spun out from academia, food waste is no longer a niche idea, but represents a serious step towards a more sustainable future for beauty brands.
Another source of food wastage comes from the 20% or more of produce that gets thrown away because of how it looks. However, several studies confirm that foods with imperfections are packed with nutritional and skin health properties. The Body Shop is tapping into the trend by buying up wonky carrots and bananas which retailers refuse to sell for its Carrot facial skincare and Wonderfully Wonky Banana collection.
Beauty launches using ingredients derived from food waste are on the increase and Mintel cites the following:
Aquafaba (chickpea brine that is normally thrown away) shares properties with egg white and can be used an alternative in haircare products. Lush has launched vegan protein shampoos made with aquafaba, touting its protein and saponin properties to help protect and strengthen fine hair. “The ingredient can tell a similarly engaging story as rice proteins and water has done in the past, breathing new life into the category and building on trusted home remedies to connect with consumers.
British brand UpCircle Beauty has launched oils, scrubs and soap bars based on used coffee waste and chai spice granules.
Food produce supplier, Daylesford Organic, has launched a Bitter Orange Hand Balm formulated with cold-pressed citrus aurantium from the peel of Seville oranges.
Fruu is a range of natural lip balms, produced locally in small batches, that combines by-products of processed fruit waste, creating biodegradable and sustainable formulas, while also generating extra revenue for small fruit farmers.
Skincare sales have grown well over the past 2 years, and people are paying more attention to daily skincare than ever before, with more than 38 billion views of #skincare videos on TikTok.
At the same time, awareness of ingredients in skin care products has increased. It's also driving some individuals and companies to find new ways to turn waste into treasure to nourish our faces. Don't make skincare products at home, though as cosmetic companies have to comply with strict laws to keep products and ingredients safe.