Waterless skincare: beauty firms bet on ethical cleaning | Skin care

The climate crisis has sparked a new trend that will forever change the look of your bathroom cabinet: waterless care.

While packaging-free vegan toiletries have long had a place on Britain’s high streets, thanks to independent brands such as Lush, the new wave of waterless – or anhydrous – beauty products is driven by a combination of ethical concerns. , innovations from Korean skincare. and new developments in packaging.

Waterless beauty products come in bars, powders, sheets, and sticks that eliminate the need for water or allow you to add as much as you need at home.

In 2020, nearly 12% of global personal care launches in the category soap, bath and shower supposedly without water. They now represent 23% of the personal care market in the United States and interest is growing in the UK and Europe. According to business analyst Future Market Insights, Sales of Waterless Cosmetics Expected to Increase 13.3% by 2031.

Ben Grace was managing director of British skincare company Bulldog before founding waterless brand SBTRCT in 2019. overreliance on palm oil,” he said. “That’s what led me to strong, waterless, zero waste skincare. Developing a high-performance range capable of doing this, but without any compromise on efficiency, seemed to me quite logical.

As Grace points out, most traditional skincare formulations contain between 60% and 80% water. “It’s just crazy,” he said. “Consumers should pay for the active ingredients. Condensed and waterless solid formulations give you the best ingredients but without bulking up the formulations with water.

Plastic-free cleansing bars. Photography: SBTRCT

Ethics is a New Zealand company started by Brianne West with a student loan. The company sells skincare, haircare, and just launched home-compostable lipsticks.

“By eliminating water, we eliminate plastic, which means solid bars not only save water and plastic, but also fossil fuel emissions,” West said. “Our bars have an average carbon footprint of only 8% of that of bottled products.”

She says she’s starting to see a real change in the beauty industry. “In the 10 years since Ethique’s inception, we’ve seen bars evolve from a hard-to-find niche concept to an accepted alternative on the shelves of fashion-forward retailers. I have confidence that the industry can continue to grow and become the dominant format over time. All we need is for retailers to take the plunge; consumers are increasingly used to the idea and ready to try. »

In addition to helping the planet, the innovative designs of anhydrous products can also benefit consumers. British start-up Plus Body Wash is a water-only formula with a 100% soluble wrap that goes down the drain while you shower. Its manufacture uses 38% less water than a traditional wash and it is easy to transport 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 waterless, less because of environmental concerns than because eliminating water means the ingredients are more concentrated and require less of preservatives. Sheet masks are expected to be a $392 million global industry by 2026, for example.

More Body Wash soluble packaging.
Some companies have introduced soluble packaging. Photography: Plus Body Wash

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 natural skincare range that includes anhydrous products because she wanted to provide a higher concentration of active ingredients.

“As a graphic designer by trade and having grown up around TCM, I wanted to create products that apply a modern approach to ancient Chinese philosophy with the guiding principle of living in harmony with nature. Waterless beauty products therefore seemed the obvious choice,” she said.

West encourages consumers to seek social and personal benefits from their beauty regimen. “Look for products that offer more than just ‘solid’ or ‘waterless’. Vegan, cruelty-free, or solids products are great – but they 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 their employees, and a real plan to reduce and offset their carbon production.

With 844 million people currently without access to clean drinking water around the world, any action by the beauty industry to change consumer behavior is positive. “Water scarcity is a very real problem,” Grace said. “To continue to use it unnecessarily as the most important ingredient in skin care formulations is simply not sustainable. We have to tackle it, and when I say us, I mean the whole industry – brands, retailers, manufacturers, raw material producers, everyone. The beauty industry cannot run away from this.

Donovan B. Sanford