upcircle body scrub coffee and tangerine review

Did you know Optiat had a makeover?

Founded by a brother and sister shocked by the sheer amount of coffee grounds wasted in bars and cafeterias, the brand is on a mission to collect as much food “wastage” and turn it into skincare products.

In 2018, the duo went on Dragon’s Den, where they secured an investment that would change their company forever. For starters, they changed their name to Upcircle to better represents what they stand for.

Upcircle combines the concepts of upcycling (i.e. turning one item into another of better use) with circular economy. Smart, right?

The next step was to change the packaging and formula to get rid of plastic entirely. Everything is now neatly housed in cardboard, glass, and aluminium containers. Plus, the tubes and jars are beautiful.

But it’s what’s inside that really matters. Is using recycled coffee grounds on your skin really a good idea? I’ve put Upcircle Body Scrub Coffee &Tangerine to the test to find out:

What’s In Upcircle Body Scrub Coffee & Tangerine?


I like that Upcircle rescues coffee grounds that would otherwise end up in the thrash. But… I’m not a fan of coffee scrubs. Here’s why:

  1. They only exfoliate skin: Coffee scrubs manually remove dead cells from the surface of your skin, leaving it softer and smoother. That’s good. But they don’t treat acne, like salicylic acid. Or hydrate skin, like glycolic. That makes them suitable only for normal skin that doesn’t have any other issue.
  2. They’re messy as hell: Unlike sugar (which is here, too, by the way), coffee specks don’t dissolve in water, so they make a mess all over your bathroom. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not clean after a shower more than I have to…

But hey… at least coffee grounds ain’t as harsh as apricot kernel scrubs or bad for the environment like microbeads.

If you want to support a skincare brand that has sustainability at the heart of its mission, using recycled coffee grounds may be worth the hassle for you.

Related: Chemical VS Physical Exfoliation: Which One Is Better?


Shea butter and coconut oil are the two of the most moisturising things Mother Nature has given us.

They both work in the same way: they’re loaded with fatty acids that create a protective barrier on the skin. This barrier slows down water loss, helping to keep skin hydrated for longer.

It’s a good choice. Manually removing dead skin cells can be a little traumatic for skin. This duo makes sure skin stays soft and supple as the coffee grounds do their exfoliating job.

Related: The Complete Guide To Coconut Oil In Skincare: What It Does & How To Use It

Need help creating the best skincare routine for your dry skin? Sign up to the newsletter below to receive the “Dry Skincare Routine Cheatsheet” (it includes product recommendations, too!).


My main problem with Upcircle Body Scrub Coffee & Tangerine? Too many fragranced essential oils.

Tangerine. Lemongrass. Bitter orange. All things that smell amazing. And are super irritating. Citrus oils are among the top offenders when it comes to causing allergies and irritations in sensitive skin.

If you know your skin can’t take them, stay away from this scrub.

Related: Natural Ingredients That Can Irritate Sensitive Skin


Oily and soft to the touch. No grittiness.


A heavenly blend of citrus and coffee that hangs on for hours afterwards. It’s energising. Fresh. Delicious.

How To Use It

Shake the tube vigorously to mix and then apply the scrub to damp skin in circular motions. Rinse off with water.

Don’t use more than 2/3 times a week, depending on how dry your skin is (the drier it is, the less often you want to use it).

Performance & Personal Opinion

There’s no way around it. Upcircle Body Scrub Coffee & Tangerine is messy.

As soon as I unscrew the cap and squeeze the tube, a huge dollop of oily, brown paste pours out. It’s way more than what I need and the excess ends up on the shower walls. Not the most promising of starts…

I can see why Upcircle recommends you shake the tube well. If you don’t, the oil base separates and makes an even bigger mess…

On the plus size, all the oils make this scrub very soft to the touch. When I massaged it on my skin, it didn’t feel gritty or harsh in any way.

Sure, once I was done my skin felt a bit tight – but that’s probably my fault for exfoliating a bit too long. I’m so out of practice with scrubs. I’ve been using chemical exfoliants only for the past couple of years.

But it was also softer and smoother. Just like you would expect after a good scrub. I’m also happy to report it didn’t irritate my skin. But then, mine isn’t sensitive.

My main issue is with the mess. The brown bits end up everywhere. After a relaxing shower, cleaning them up is the last thing I want to do…

Related: Why I Prefer Chemical Exfoliants

upcircle body scrub coffee tangerine

Who Is This For?

  • Normal skin
  • Women who only want to use natural and sustainable skincare products

Who Is This NOT For?

  • Acne-prone skin
  • Dry skin
  • Sensitive skin


The green tube is so pretty, isn’t it? And I love it’s recyclable. But it’s a pain to use. For starters, it pours out way more product than you need. Every. Single. Time.

Like that weren’t annoying enough, it leaks. It doesn’t matter how tightly I close it, the runny oil base leaks out and makes a tiny brown puddle onto my bathroom shelf.

Maybe I got a defective tube, but it’s enough not to make me want to repurchase. 🙁

Does Upcircle Body Scrub Coffee & Tangerine Live Up To Its Claims?

Leaves your skin feeling soft, smooth and refreshed. True.
Smell delicious with this tangerine and grapefruit scrub. True, but the scent can irritate sensitive skin.

Price & Availability

£14.99 at Beauty Bay, Feel Unique, and Wolf & Badger

Do You Need It?

If it’s important for you to support only sustainable and natural brands, this may be a good option for you. It does the job, after all. Everyone else, stick to chemical exfoliants.


Dupes & Alternatives


Coffea Arabica Seed Powder, Sodium Chloride, Sucrose, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Fruit Oil, Citrus Reticulata (Tangerine) Peel Oil, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Peel Oil, Litsea Cubeba (May Chang) Peel Oil, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Oil, Cymbopogon Flexuosus (Lemongrass) Oil, Elettaria Cardamomum (Cardamom) Seed Oil, Citrus Aurantium Amara (Bitter Orange) Leaf Oil, Benzyl Alcohol, Dehydroacetic Acid, Benzoic Acid, Sorbic Acid, *Limonene, *Citral. *Natural constituent of essential oils listed.