Like a lot of fresh cosmetic concepts, the notion of waterless beauty was first introduced in South Korea a few years ago. Continually lightyears ahead of Western beauty trends, the Korean beauty market has paved the way for the benefits of water-free products being introduced globally, which is now tipped to be the next big environmental beauty movement.
With water predicted to overtake oil as the most precious worldwide commodity, there is no question that it is in increasingly short supply. From global water reserves running at the lowest they have ever been, to the incredible amount used in animal agriculture and other mass production, it is time to seriously consider our water usage in day-to-day life.
So, for the eco-conscious consumer, using less water is a no-brainer – including in your beauty cabinet. Not only are products that are waterless beneficial for the planet, but your skin may appreciate the reduction of water too. Despite being synonymous with hydration, when water is applied topically to skin it can actually be incredibly drying, so a formula that consists of oils and botanicals that isn’t diluted with water will not only be more potent, but will have a greater impact on hydrating skin.
Some brands have been ahead of the game for years. “Making products with less water and less packaging has been something we’ve always done,” says Daniel Campbell, Product Inventor at LUSH.
“We believe in making products with the finest materials and minimal packaging, so not filling our products full of water makes it easier to do this.”
He continues: “Dry products usually require no preservatives as the microorganisms that would spoil your favourite product need water in order to survive. When you restrict the amount of water (in a product), the conditioning becomes much less favourable to them. Products without preservatives are kinder to the skin as preservatives will disrupt the microflora balance as well as impacting on any water table they are introduced into. A minimal use of preservative will dramatically reduce this impact, so alway look for a product with a ‘use by date’ if you are purchasing a cosmetic with a high water content. In addition, it becomes easier to create packaging-free products when water is limited. Over 50% of our product range is packaging free and it is by restricting the water content of these product ranges that allows us to achieve this.”
Water-free products are also generally ‘cleaner’, as removing water removes the need for preservatives, which makes for a more natural and less harsh composition. Preservatives are primarily added to products because water can encourage the growth of bacteria. Removing the water gets rid the possibility of bacteria, resulting in a preservative-free product that is extra powerful, with naturally increased stabilisation.
““We were passionate about making waterless skincare because as a consumer of many high end skincare products over the years, I was tired of paying premium prices for products that mainly consisted of water,” says Wendy Lane, co-founder of Meadow Skincare. “We formulate Meadow products knowing that every drop is adding something good to your skin, whilst also saving water, a precious commodity in today’s world.”
Whether it’s for the well-being of the planet, or the purity of your product, it’s clear that water-free beauty is a welcome addition to any carefully curated cosmetics cabinet. Here are some aqua-free vegan beauty goodies we’re currently got our eye on.
The new active balms from the Natural Deodorant Company are fast-absorbing, easy to apply – plus, they protect underarms even through the toughest workout. As well as being waterless, the balms are free from palm oil, preservatives and alcohol, and the pots themselves are made without plastic.
This award-winning body oil is incredibly hydrating, fast-absorbing and fragrance-free. Packed with an array of powerful oils, from sweet almond to apricot and jojoba to vitamin E, this incredibly moisturising body tonic is perfect for supple, smooth skin; even helping to prevent stretchmarks.
This new eco-skincare company hand-make all their products in Britain. Proud to be vegan and cruelty free, they are also big on waterless beauty and each product in their range is made H20-free. This face balm is packed full of vitamin-rich oils such as sea buckthorn, olive squalene and rosehip to increase elasticity, soften and regenerate skin.
Packed with soothing ingredients such as oat milk, lavender and rose absolute that have been blended with hydrating cocoa butter, this ‘dreamy’ shower cream is the perfect tonic for stressed-out skin. Lather and enjoy to restore lacklustre winter limbs – pure body bliss!
Plastic-free and easy to use, these beauty blocks break up into 27 perfectly formed individual ‘kubes’. Each kube has enough cleansing power for healthy, glossy hair per wash, whilst being waterless, cruelty free and of course vegan. Perfect to take on holiday with you, the block is small enough to pop in your bag to guarantee fresh hair every day – the eco-friendly way.
This dry mask is the perfect pick-me-up for a tired complexion. In just fifteen minutes, the textile fabric loaded with vitamins, peptides and oils will seriously perk up skin. Unlike wet formula masks, which can evaporate after 45 minutes, this skin saviour lasts for eight full hours, hydrating and brightening. The dry formula doesn’t harbour bacteria and can therefore be used up to three times.
Suitable for all skin types, this hydrating and regenerating oil from Pai is a restorative wonder for upset skin. Bringing back balance without irritation, the powerful yet gentle formula soothes and remedies unpredictable skin.
This label offers a range of solid beauty, from self-tanner to scrubs, but we have a particular soft spot for this serum thanks to its intensive hydration properties as well as abundance of antioxidants that help keep skin protected. You can use this solid serum under your regular moisturiser for a hard hit of nourishment, or on its own for a lighter touch of luxury. The bathroom-friendly box is reusable and steam-resistant – no cardboard crumbles here.
A real treat for your body, this shimmer scrub by Frank Body is an opulent delight for dehydrated limbs. Micro-particles of gold dust cling to the skin for an ethereal yet subtle glow, whilst coffee beans buff and grape seed and vitamin E oils hydrate. Summer or winter, this is a skin-softening delight for party-ready pins, or simply for an epic self-care Sunday.
This pre-shampoo treatment is a cleansing oil that softens, strengthens and hydrates hair without stripping away any natural elements from the scalp. With extracts of apricot, oat and coconut among others, the elixir nourishes from the roots for a seriously silky shine. With 98% organic ingredients, this is the perfect tonic to tame unruly tresses without artificial additives or added aqua.
With genuine rose quartz crystal extracts, this indulgent body oil by Herbivore is a deeply hydrating and soothing radiance redeemer for anywhere that needs a subtle shimmer and a boost of moisture. Absorbing quickly, this nourishing treatment not only leaves you looking healthy and glowing, but the rose quartz balances the mind for a truly holistic and heavenly experience.
Header photo by Christin Hume via Unsplash