As conscious consumers seeking more sustainable products in every area of life, from the home to the wardrobe to the bathroom, waterless beauty products may have popped up on your radar as an additional way to green your beauty routine. While this is a valid way to reduce your water consumption, waterless beauty products may not quite be as ‘waterless’ as marketers make out.
Waterless Beauty Products for the Environment
In the UK, the average person uses about 150L of water a day across washing, flushing, drinking, cooking and cleaning, without even taking into account the water used to heat homes and offices, wash cars, and more. Water is a limited resource, compounded by the water-intensive lifestyle of the average UK person. Mintel Beauty & Personal Care say: “Water is set to become a precious commodity as consumption outstrips supply. The more consumers become aware of this, the more beauty brands will need to change how they manufacture and formulate products to limit their dependence on water.”
To fit into this ‘waterless’ category, products are made without water as an ingredient in the finished product generally get a tick – a quick look at the ingredients label of any beauty product in your bathroom cabinet, will show ‘Aqua’ right at the top of the list, often making up to 70% overall of everything from your shampoo to your night cream. Remove this, and you are left with balms, powders and oils. Some brands are substituting water for aloe vera and hydrosols, but these can/and are often still water (aloe vera can be dehydrated to a powder then reactivated with water before use and hydrosols are the “flower waters,” produced by distilling fresh leaves, fruits, flowers)
What’s not listed on the label of many waterless beauty products is that many of these products are made from natural ingredients that grow through the use of water and are often extracted using water. While ‘aqua’ may not be written on the label it is often found in the processes used to make the ingredients that do appear on the label. Add to that, that some of the products themselves need you to add water to activate them before use (think powdered masks or cleansers) and the term waterless can seem a little misleading.
There is an environmental benefit in not over-using water (putting it in jars and shipping it around the world could be classed as overuse!) and more concentrated botanical oil based formulations may have skin and wallet benefits (you will likely use less) – water based products also require more robust preservatives when compared to oil based products. Many oil-based mainstay of many a natural beauty line for years. Shop natural face exfoliating powders to reduce your environmental impact in this way.
Waterless Beauty Products For Skin Benefits
A waterless (or at least water-minimising) beauty routine doesn’t stop at shortened showers and turning off the tap as you cleanse and brush. Look for natural beauty products that don’t use water/ ‘Aqua’ as their most abundant ingredient. Consumers are now looking for natural beauty products not only formulated without synthetics, but with little to no ‘Aqua’, as well as requiring minimal water when using – helping to conserve this limited natural resource for the positive environmental impact it will have.
Water is commonly used as the base in beauty products because of its affordability and the odd claim to provide additional hydration benefits (even though topical application of excess water has actually been found to dry the skin) – a reliable way to create skincare en masse. However, without water, the need for ingredients that do more for the product than for your skin, such as preservatives and emulsifiers (the things that make oil and water blend together) is decreased. With a botanical oil in place of water you will likely get more of a skin benefit, rather than a manufacturing benefit, which always seems like a win for us. Shop natural & organic facial oils.