The climate crisis is driving a new trend that will forever change the look of your bathroom cabinet: waterless skin care.
Though unwrapped, vegan toiletries have long had a place on the UK’s highways, thanks to independent brands like Lush, the new wave of waterless – or anhydrous – beauty products is driven by a combination of ethical concerns , innovations taken from Korean skincare and new developments in packaging.
Waterless beauty products come in the form of bars, powders, sheets and sticks that eliminate the need for water or allow you to add the amount you need at home.
In 2020, nearly 12% of global personal care product launches in the soap, bath and shower category claimed to be waterless. They currently account for 23% of the US personal care market and interest is growing in the UK and Europe. According to business analyst Future Market Insights, sales of waterless cosmetics are projected to grow 13.3% by 2031.
Ben Grace was CEO of the British skin care company Bulldog before founding the waterless brand SBTRCT in 2019. “Many things have changed in a short time: awareness of the climate crisis, waste of water, excessive reliance on water. palm oil, “he said. “This is what led me to solid, waterless, waste-free skin care. Developing a high-performance range that could do this, but without any compromise on effectiveness, made perfect sense to me. “
As Grace points out, more traditional skincare formulations contain between 60% and 80% water. “It’s just crazy,” she said. “Consumers should pay for the active ingredients. The solid condensed, waterless formulations offer the best ingredients but without cluttering the formulations with water.
Ethique is a New Zealand company founded by Brianne West on a student loan. The company sells skin care products, hair care products and has just launched compostable lipsticks for the home.
“By removing water, we remove plastic, which means that solid rods not only save water and plastic, but also fossil fuel emissions,” West said. “Our bars have an average carbon footprint of just 8% of bottled products.”
She says she is starting to see real change in the beauty industry. “In the 10 years since Ethique’s inception, we’ve seen bars have gone from a hard-to-find niche concept to an accepted alternative on the shelves of forward-thinking retailers. I am confident that the sector can continue to grow and become the dominant format over time. All we need is for retailers to take the leap – consumers are more and more used to the idea and willing to try. “
In addition to helping the planet, innovative designs of anhydrous products can also be beneficial to consumers. British start-up Plus Body Wash is a water-based formula with a 100% soluble packaging that goes down the drain while you shower. Its manufacture uses 38% less water than traditional washing and is easy to carry on vacation or to the gym.
The luxury market is also converting to waterless products. South Korean beauty regimens have become extremely popular in the West and many of these products are water-free, less the result of environmental problems than because the removal of the water means that the ingredients are more concentrated and require fewer preservatives. For example, fabric masks are projected to be a $ 392 million global industry by 2026.
Stephanie Hannington-Suen grew up helping in her parents’ Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) clinic. After working as a graphic designer, she created Homework, a line of natural skin care products that includes anhydrous products because she wanted to provide a higher concentration of active ingredients.
“As a graphic designer by profession and raised around TCM, I wanted to create products that applied a modern approach to ancient Chinese philosophy with the guiding principle of living in harmony with nature. So waterless beauty products seemed like the obvious choice, “he said.
West encourages consumers to seek social and personal benefits for their beauty regimen. “Look for products that offer more than just ‘solid’ or ‘waterless’. Vegan, cruelty free, or solid products are great, but will offer far more environmental benefits if they offer all three, if they can demonstrate a commitment to their producers – direct trade or fair trade – and employees, and a genuine plan to reduce and offset their carbon production “.
With 844 million people currently lacking access to clean water worldwide, any action by the beauty industry to change consumer behavior is positive. “Water scarcity is a very real problem,” Grace said. “Continuing to use it unnecessarily as the most important ingredient in skincare formulations is not sustainable. We have to face it and when I say us, I mean the whole industry: brands, retailers, manufacturers, producers of raw materials, everyone. The beauty industry can’t escape that.