Concept to practice: What 4 beauty experts say about circular beauty today

By Ravyn Cullor

- Last updated on GMT

Circularity is a hot topic in beauty, but it's also a lofty economic goal which will require big shifts in how the industry does business. © Getty Images
Circularity is a hot topic in beauty, but it's also a lofty economic goal which will require big shifts in how the industry does business. © Getty Images

Related tags circular beauty circular economy Sustainability green beauty Environment sustainable beauty

Much of the cosmetics industry is discussing the concept of circular economies in beauty, but whether brands, infrastructures and consumers around the world are ready to actually apply the model is yet to be seen.

CosmeticsDesign spoke with four experts on different segments of the beauty industry, R&D, packaging, ingredient supplying and consumer interest, about how they see circularity today and what the industry can approach the economic theory in practice.

Giorgio Dell'Acqua, Chair of NYSCC

Many aspects of the circular model are familiar with the sustainability approach, and conservation and repurposing are therefore very important. When developing a cosmetic product or ingredient the concept of circularity and sustainability can overlap. Green chemistry, environment conservation, reduction of pollution, reduction of waste, minimal water use and end product upcycling are considered in the manufacturing process. The creation of industrial hubs using different components of the same raw material to maximize its capabilities and reduce waste is also an example of an integrated circular model.

Lauren Goodsitt, Associate Director of Global Beauty & Personal Care at Mintel

Innovation is a crucial component of the cosmetics industry, but it can create concerns about unnecessary waste. An increased focus on sustainability places environmental responsibilities on both end-users as well as on companies. Brands that make sustainability impacts clear and tangible will help consumers to justify trading up to greener or more ethical brands. Consumers are looking for measurable metrics and will be loyal to brands that emphasize their ethical operating practices. As consumers push brands to reinvent their strategies, to better align with their own values, brands will be tasked with finding inventive ways to demonstrate their commitment to circularity. 

Svanika Balasubramanian, CEO & Co-founder at packaging consultant rePurpose Global

As the beauty industry grows rapidly, it is refreshing to see a shift within the sector to change gears and revamp packaging approaches to be more circular today. While this is an incredible first step, there is now more than ever for brands a push to integrate circularity at every stage of their value chain in a holistic and transparent manner rather than as an isolated move at a point in time. In our experience, helping over 100 personal care brands take real plastic action, circularity holds an important key to unlocking systemic change the world needs.

Sandro Sato, Global Segment Leader Cosmetic Actives & Sensory Enhancers at Dow

Circularity is clearly more advanced on the packaging site. For specific areas of cosmetics, you have the ingredients also following the trends from an earlier stage. The maturity curve is different depending on which segment you're really considering. Other cosmetics were not really focusing on naturals. There are different reasons for that. One of the reasons is they couldn't find an alternative to silicones or other alternative ingredients matching the same level of performance, as silicone is well known for bringing. The cosmetics industry is getting more and more ready. It's no longer about being natural 100%, it's really about being more sustainable with the right kind of ingredients. It's a transformational journey that the cosmetics industry is going through and the maturity curve is going to be different depending on which segment you're looking at.

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