Finnish fermented skin care startup: Circular beauty to 'become the norm’ in 5-10 years

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

Circulove has a range of four skin care products made using fermented ingredients and byproduct food-grade natural oils, packaged in airless bottles made from 30% of ocean plastic [Image: Circulove]
Circulove has a range of four skin care products made using fermented ingredients and byproduct food-grade natural oils, packaged in airless bottles made from 30% of ocean plastic [Image: Circulove]

Related tags circular beauty Fermentation fermented ingredients sustainable beauty Skin care holistic beauty Sustainability Sustainable packaging Environment

Finland-based fermented skin care brand Circulove has developed a range of products it says fit into the wider trend towards sustainable holistic living – a rising area of opportunity for beauty, its CEO says.

Launched in November 2020, eight months later than planned due to COVID-19, Circulove offered a line of four facial skin care products: a cleanser, SPF day cream and two serums. Each product contained fermented natural ingredients like oat and willow bark and a variety of by-product food-grade oils, including raspberry and strawberry. Packaged using airless bottle technology for stability, the bottles were made from 30% of ocean collected plastic and 70% virgin and used just one type of material for full recyclability.

Available in select, specialist online lifestyle sites and retail stores across Europe, including Weecos and Lokal in Finland, TheWearness in Germany and Wolf&Badger in the UK, Circulove also sold its products directly via its own website and was currently finalising further retail partnerships in Australia and the US.

Expansion into holistic sustainable stores – it’s ‘where the world is moving’

Over the next three years, however, the main expansion focus would remain on Europe and the US with a goal to edging deeper into Asia after that, said Päivi Paltola, CEO and co-founder of Circulove.

“After three years, we’re going to see the key cities in Asia and expand then there,”​ Paltola told CosmeticsDesign-Europe.

“But, for us, the purpose is also so crucial: that we’re able to create this shared value creation; that what we do stays true to what we do,”​ she said.

Any further expansion, therefore, would continue to be in more holistic retail points as this was “where the world is moving, especially with COVID times”,​ she said, and where Circulove’s core consumer shopped.

“The core target is this urban citizen, women and men, (…) and our people are more lifestyle-driven. They really value that they’re able to make more sustainable choices, but that has to be also easy for them.”

Similarly, future expansion and product development would continue to firmly follow the company’s founding principles: full transparency and circularity, Paltola said.

Today, Circulove had full control and knowledge of its supply chain from start to finish, Paltola said – working closely with its European raw material suppliers and packaging manufacturer – and that would be maintained as the company grew.

Circular beauty that considers the environment, people and social responsibility

The five founding members of Circulove with Paltola second from right [Image: Circulove]
The five founding members of Circulove with Paltola second from right [Image: Circulove]

“We actually wanted to create something we could trace until the end,” ​Paltola said. 

“…It was three years ago I really started to think about where the world is going and started to talk with ex-colleagues. Our background is design, and we know 80% of the product footprint is already decided at the design stage. So, the thinking was, start it from scratch and combine social responsibility and ecological footprint and on top of that be able to have the best product for your skin.”

Circulove, she said, had been created following the Ellen MacArthur Foundation framework for circularity, considering the entire value chain of the company. “In each stage we looked into the effect on the environment; the effect on human and social responsibility, and that’s how we designed the whole product line.”

The company also measured its environmental impact and invested in sustainable initiatives like tree planting in Finland, she said.

And Paltola said this way of working was the future for beauty. “I believe circular beauty will be, in the future, just the normal way of doing things; [something] that all companies have to do from the beginning, in terms of design-thinking. I think it will become the norm in five to ten years, because I don’t think there’s any other alternative.”


Circular Beauty Webinar

CosmeticsDesign-Europe recently held a Circular Beauty webinar​ with a range of high-end experts in the field. You can still register to watch on-demand today​, for more in-depth insights on raw material sourcing, packaging, certifications and brand strategy.

Fermented future in skin care?

This more holistic way of living and circular design, Paltola said, was also what prompted Circulove to use fermented ingredients in its formulas – using a slow processing technology for a three- to five-week fermentation of its key ingredients that avoided the need to add in actives like probiotics.

Circulove uses fermented ingredients and byproduct food-grade oils [Image: Circulove]
Circulove uses fermented ingredients and byproduct food-grade oils [Image: Circulove]

“It’s an old tradition built in[to] this new technology. So, after the fermentation, the probiotics are naturally in the plant – we’re not adding anything. And since it’s very similar to your skin, it’s kind of mimicking the skin structure, your skin is able to use the ingredients in a more efficient way,”​ she said.

“…I also think it’s also this kind of more holistic way of thinking because fermentation helps your skin renew itself. So, it’s supporting your own natural functions in your skin.”

Use of fermented ingredients, she said, also tapped into the trend towards more natural skin care products designed to help skin renew itself. And whilst there remained a need to educate some consumers on fermented ingredients in the beauty space, there was a certain familiarity given widespread use in food and beverages, she said.

“The trend is bigger in Asia than Europe, but I believe it’s also coming to Europe,”​ she said.

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