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All you need to know about freeze-dried skincare

  • 5 min read

A relatively new player in the skincare world, freeze drying is a technique that is gaining popularity as a way of formulating beauty and skincare products. 

Probably best known as a way of preserving foodstuff and boosting the shelf-life of food products, freeze drying is now being used as a way to boost the potency of skincare ingredients while reducing their water content. A new type of waterless skincare, freeze-dried skincare has a lower carbon footprint than traditional water-based skincare. 

What is freeze drying?

Sometimes known as lyophilization or cryodesiccation, freeze drying is a slow process where low temperatures and pressure are used to dehydrate a substance. All moisture, at this point as ice, is then removed by sublimation – where a solid (ice) transitions directly into a gas (water vapour), without passing through the liquid (water) phase – by adding a small amount of heat. The finished product will be completely dried out, with no traces of water left behind.  

Typical uses of freeze drying are seen everyday in your local supermarket, from crispy mixed fruit snacks to tins of longer-life foods. As freeze drying eliminates water from a product, foods that have been freeze-dried tend to have a significantly longer shelf life than other foodstuffs.

The same principles apply when freeze drying other substances besides food. When it comes to freeze-dried skincare, the water in active ingredients is frozen and then transitioned into gas through sublimation. The resulting product is then either used on its own as a sole skincare product, or combined with other ingredients to make a skincare product.

Freeze-dried skincare – what’s it all about?

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen science overlap into skincare – think fermented skincare – but after all, isn’t all skincare just a bit of chemistry? Combine the right skin-loving ingredients in the right quantities, and there’s your product – after several iterations and tests, but you get our point. 

Freeze-drying can be viewed as another technique used in the creation of skincare products. Similar to how seabuckthorn oil is typically cold-pressed in production, certain skin-loving ingredients can be freeze-dried. 

You can also view freeze-dried skincare as another form of waterless – or anhydrous – skincare, where products are formulated without the use of water, or in this case, where water is removed from the product. These freeze-dried ingredients can then be combined with nourishing ethically-sourced fruit water, made into a balm, or used on its own. 

If you know anything about UpCircle, you’ll know that we’re all for anything that can help to save our planet, and saving water is a great way to do so. Unsurprisingly, this is absolutely something we can get on board with. 

Benefits of freeze-dried skincare

1. Ingredients penetrate deeper into the skin

Active ingredients that have been dehydrated and freeze-dried have been found to have a lower molecular weight than those that haven’t. This in turn means that these molecules can penetrate more deeply into the skin. 

2. Increased potency of ingredients

Skincare ingredients that have been freeze-dried are able to retain more of their original benefits, amplifying the potency of the product it is used in. This process helps to preserve the qualities of the original ingredients used in their natural form. 

3. Better for the planet

We’re all doing our bit to help prevent water shortages, whether it be turning off the tap when we brush our teeth or trying to take shorter showers. The great news is that your skincare can make a difference too! 

Any iteration of waterless skincare helps to conserve this precious resource, and raise awareness for the issue. Better still, the lower weight of the freeze-dried ingredients – as they do not need to be kept in some form of preservative – also helps to lower the carbon footprint associated with transportation. 

Limitations of freeze-dried skincare

Unfortunately, not all skincare ingredients can be freeze-dried – with ingredients like peptides often being too fragile to be processed in this way. 

As well as this, many skincare products contain a mix of skincare ingredients, and it is difficult to freeze-dry multiple ingredients at once due to differences in composition. Having to freeze-dry multiple ingredients at different times for one product can be both costly and time-consuming.

However, including some freeze-dried ingredients is better than none, and there are always other ways to compensate for these ingredients that are limited in their processing!

Waterless alternatives to freeze-dried skincare with UpCircle

Waterless cleansing

Both solid cleansers and balm cleansers work in this category – both formulated without the use of invaluable H2O. 

Our award-winning Face Cleansing Balm with Oat Oil is 100% natural and seamlessly removes tough mascara, makeup and other impurities from the skin. Made with the finely-ground powder of discarded apricot stones, a natural by-product of the apricot oil industry and rich in antioxidant Vitamin E, this cleanser is a fan-favourite.

Not only does the product remove makeup and cleanse the skin, it also moisturises and nourishes as it works. Formulated with skin-loving shea butter, this cleansing balm is incredibly gentle on the skin. 



Solid soap bars provide a perfect waterless alternative to water-based cleansers. Packed with skin-loving ingredients, both of our chai soap bars are certified organic, vegan and palm oil free. Choose from Fennel and Cardamom, Cinnamon and Ginger, or opt for both! 



Waterless exfoliation

Our Natural Coffee Scrubs come in three delightful variations, targeting specific skin types: Citrus Blend for Dry Skin, Floral Blend for Sensitive Skin and Herbal Blend for Acne-Prone Skin. Each of the face scrubs contains top-quality Arabica coffee grounds – sourced from artisan coffee shops – that we’ve upcycled into a natural exfoliator. 



Waterless nourishment

The highlight of a skincare routine for many people is adding that much-needed hit of moisture and nourishment to the skin. Perhaps surprisingly, this too can be achieved without the use of water.

Our oil-based Organic Face Serum with Coffee Oil is brimming with natural oils to nourish the skin, and lock in moisture. Also excellent to condition hair or beards – jojoba oil softens the hair whilst rosehip oil keeps the skin beneath healthy and reduces irritation.



Discover our full collection of vegan skin, body and hair care products at UpCircle, where we upcycle ingredients that would otherwise go to waste to give them a new lease of life. Learn more about the ingredients we upcycle and the wonderful skincare benefits of each.