Circularity in beauty and cosmetics is sustainable


by Henrikke Sylte

Circular beauty and cosmetics

Consumer preferences increasingly lean toward sustainable and eco-conscious choices across product groups. By extension, adopting circularity in beauty and cosmetics leads the charge. As a global trend, consumers want to know where their beauty goods come from, what they contain, and that they have been produced ethically. 

At the other end of the chain, they also embrace circularity to reduce waste, reuse materials and packaging with refillables, and recycle. Consumer consciousness – and conscientiousness – is shaping circularity in beauty. 

The beauty of circular economy

The circular economy concept has gained ground as a sustainable departure from the linear “take-make-dispose” model. In the beauty and cosmetics industry, circularity is all about creating products that are designed with a focus on sustainability, durability, and minimal waste generation. The circular approach consists of three main principles: reduce, reuse, and recycle. 


Recycling is perhaps one of the most recognizable sustainability practices in the beauty industry. Many brands have adopted eco-friendly packaging materials, such as glass and recycled plastics, to reduce their environmental footprint. Additionally, consumers are encouraged to recycle empty product containers. Some companies even offer incentives for customers who return their containers for recycling. This not only reduces the demand for new raw materials but also minimizes the amount of waste going to landfills.


The idea of reusability is gaining traction as consumers are looking for ways to minimize waste. Many brands offer refillable containers for their products, allowing customers to purchase refills at a reduced price once their initial purchase is empty. This approach reduces the need for single-use packaging, lowering production costs and waste. Reusable packaging not only benefits the environment but also appeals to the growing number of eco-conscious consumers.


Refill stations, both in physical stores and online, are becoming more common in the beauty industry. These stations allow customers to refill their empty containers with the same product, reducing the need for additional packaging and transportation. Some brands have even introduced subscription services, making it convenient for customers to receive refills on a regular basis. This not only saves money for consumers but also significantly reduces the carbon footprint associated with product distribution.

Consumer consciousness shaping circularity in beauty

Consumers drive the demand for sustainability and circularity in the beauty industry. Their growing environmental and social awareness fuels their choices. People are increasingly concerned about the impact of their choices on the planet and are seeking out products that align with their values. 

Consumers are actively demanding more from the beauty and cosmetics industry to fulfill their growing concern for sustainable practices. This consciousness requires:


Beauty brands are on the hook for providing greater transparency for demanding consumers. They want to know where the ingredients come from, how products are made, and what happens to the packaging once they’re done with it. Brands that share information about their processes and material sourcing are more likely to win the trust of eco-conscious consumers.

Ethical sourcing

Many beauty companies now focus on ethically sourcing ingredients. This includes supporting fair trade practices and ensuring that the harvesting of natural resources does not harm local communities or ecosystems. Consumers are more inclined to choose products that prioritize ethical sourcing.


Consumers want eco-friendly certifications, such as cruelty-free and vegan labels. These certifications reassure customers that products are not tested on animals and do not contain animal-derived ingredients, which aligns with their ethical beliefs.

Making circularity easy for consumers

These principles hinge on ingredient and product traceability to get a full end-to-end picture of where beauty products come from. Ideally the product can also speak for itself in guiding its “end of life” trajectory as well, for example, providing consumers with information via scanning a QR code, that offers options for refilling, recycling or reuse. 

Tracking and measuring circularity in beauty

While efforts have existed for years to make these principles dominant, there’s still a long way to go. And the challenge is applying appropriate technology and digitization to track and measure products. 

Brands that embrace these changes are not only reducing their environmental impact but also attracting a growing segment of conscious consumers. As the beauty industry continues to evolve, it is clear that sustainable and circular practices are here to stay, shaping a more eco-friendly and responsible future for beauty and cosmetics.

Enabling key circular movements: Traceability

With circularity driving beauty and cosmetics, digital transformation is key. Ultimately at the heart of delivering verifiable circularity and sustainability lives traceability and connected products

Product digitization technology lets brands assign a unique digital ID to each beauty or cosmetic item at the point of manufacture. The digital ID follows the item throughout its journey, creating a connected product that gathers data throughout the product’s life. 

Unique digital IDs give brands an easier way to reduce the complexity of end-to-end, item-level traceability, which can solve a number of critical business challenges, including those related to circularity in beauty and cosmetics. 

Ready to learn more about circular beauty and the power of digital IDs and connected products? Get in touch. Or download our e-book, “The Beauty Behind Traceability”.