Waterless beauty products can save your skin and the planet, we explain why

Water is one of the most common ingredients in beauty products. Known for its specific properties that “dissolve water-soluble and gaseous-active solid ingredients,” says Shanu Walpita, trend forecaster and founder of Futurewise Studio, is often used as solvent or as a means of improving the consistency of a product or its texture. An example? Cleansers, serums, gels and perfumes.

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“Adding a small amount of water gives the product a softer and more malleable texture, which contrasts with the thicker ointments or creams available on the market,” adds Walpita. However, water also entails a whole host of problems, both for our body and for theambient in general. Consequently, the widespread diffusion in the sector of waterless beauty, or beauty products without water.

The problem of water-based products

Nowadays, most products are meant to be profitable and lasting. For this purpose, water is often used as filler, since it is not expensive and prevents contamination. But it is also fertile ground for the germs. “The thing is pretty simple: where there is water, there are bacteria too,” he says Susanne Langmuir, founder and CEO of the Toronto-based waterless brand aN-hydra. “Similar to food that needs to be stored in the refrigerator, water-rich products are no longer stable without the addition of preservatives that fight bacteria and reduce microbial proliferation”.

It has and preservatives they have been linked to immune system dysfunctions and reproductive system diseases. Additionally, although water may seem like a moisturizer, it has been found that water-based beauty products tend to dry the skin and hair due to the fact that the water evaporates, taking with it many of the skin’s healthy and natural oils. But what’s worse is that “sometimes the skin can react to synthetic emulsifiers, fragrances and dyes once the water has evaporated. In the most extreme cases, this can cause a rash, inflame or irritate the skin, ”Walpita explains.

But, in addition to being harmful to the body, adding water to beauty products can also harm the environment. In fact, it is estimated that there are over 8.3 billion tons of plastic on our planet. The beauty sector is one of the biggest managers of overuse of packages and packaging which include layers of plastic and mixed materials that are often difficult to recycle or are not recyclable at all. Adding water as a filler reduces the overall effectiveness of the product. And the less effective it is, the more you increase the quantities. The more product we consume, the more packaging it is necessary, which in turn creates more water pollution.

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The rise of waterless beauty

The concept of ‘waterless beauty’ (or waterless beauty) originated in South Korea, only to gain popularity in the West in 2015. Waterless beauty offers a variety of options ranging from cleansing ointments, powders, ai was concentrates, including body butter, masks and pressed serums that can be incorporated into skincare, hair care or make-up.

“Originally, the concept of ‘waterless’ was intended to increase the power of skin products so that they are more effective“, he claims Glendean Rehvan, skincare director at In-Trend. “Independent beauty brands were the first to lead the trend, launching innovative waterless formulations. However, this trend has entered the consciousness of consumers mainstream, which means that now even the mass market and luxury brands have aligned ”. According to what Rehvan stated, currently, the purpose behind “waterless beauty” goes far beyond effectiveness: it represents the desire to clean, non-toxic formulations suitable for commuting and traveling as well as meeting the growing consciousness green.

“The use of plastic in the United States is astounding, especially that of single-use items, and we want to offer a solution that can deliver the same high-quality results. without waste“, Declares a Vogue Arden Teasdale, CEO of the brand of water-free and plastic-free hair products Unwrapped Life. The brand produces solid shampoo and conditioner in soap bars, thus offering an alternative to liquid products packaged in single-use plastic bottles and thereby protecting landfills and waterways from plastic pollution.

Make-up is also becoming waterless thanks to a series of emerging and well-known brands that are introducing water-free products to the market. For example, Pinch of Colour has a line ranging from a matte lipstick coloring available in 12 shades to tint for the face for 6 types of complexions. Then there is Vapour, which has formulated 97% of its products without water while the lip and cheek line is 100% water-free.

It should be noted that the products without water they can be more expensive as they are more concentrated. They also appear to be of a higher quality as they contain ethically sourced ingredients. “The technology needed to produce them and the cost of the ingredients tends to be higher, which means they are priced higher,” says the dermatologist. Joshua draftsman. However, this should not discourage consumers: the more concentrated the product, the less the quantity required and more it will last a long time.

The waterless formulation is not a total solution

Although i brand waterless are deemed to be more sustainable, this is not a total solution. “Water intervenes in all stages of the life cycle of a product, from collection to processing of raw materials, formulation, completion, packaging, transport and use by the consumer”, comments Sarah Jay, creator of the documentary Toxic Beauty (2019) and founder of All Earthlings, an organization dedicated to improving transparency along the cosmetics supply chain. When we take all these truths into consideration, we quickly realize that the concept of a waterless beauty product does not exist. According to Jay, by 2025, two-thirds of the planet could face a lack of clean water. In this sense, brands must take action to reduce their dependence on water in everything they do.

“Water will undoubtedly become a luxury. Indeed, two-thirds of the world’s population will be subject to water shortages by 2025, as only 1% of the world’s water supply is made up of accessible fresh water, ”Walpita explains. “The criticality of a global crisis linked to the decrease in water will put the spotlight on growing need for water-free products”.

But both Langmuir and Walpita remain optimistic about the future. “Covid has changed the way we buy and use products and created one lasting awareness of the environmental damage of all this waste”Suggests Langmuir. There is a growing conscious approach to sustainability that is promoting a significant permanent change in the way we manufacture and purchase the products we use on a daily basis. As Walpita states, “The beauty waterless it is not a trend or a fashion but will increasingly take the form of a daily necessity. With water supplies becoming increasingly scarce, consumers are introducing incremental lifestyle changes that affect the planet in a positive way. Choose an approach waterless will mean choose safety rather than convenience, this is undoubtedly a good thing ”.


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