Waterless Beauty: What It Is and Why Do We Need It?

by Agnieszka Miel

The phrase ‘waterless beauty' has been on an upward trend for most sustainably focused beauty lovers – but what does it really mean, and why does it matter?  

Have you ever noticed that the first ingredient of your skincare product tends to be Aqua? That’s because most products are made up of 80-90% water. It’s usually the water that makes creams and serums more malleable and easier to spread around our face and body. But, in the past few years the skincare industry has seen a shift with the emergence of waterless skincare. 

Waterless skincare products are just that – products free of any water in their formulation. You might be wondering why having skincare free of water would be anything to consider. Well, as we usually reach for a glass of water to quench our thirst, most people are surprised to hear water can be quite drying to our skin. The simple science behind it is that as the water evaporates from the skin and as a result, some of our skin's natural and very necessary oils are taken with it, leaving us with a rather unpleasant, tight and dry feeling. This can all too often lead to our skin feeling irritated or inflamed and potentially even lead to breakouts, particularly for those of us with already sensitive skin. 

This is why waterless beauty, otherwise referred to as ‘water-free’ or ‘anhydrous’ beauty focuses on using pure and potent products –  the idea being that by increasing their potency, you can too increase the efficacy of a product. So, whether the ingredients are soothing and nourishing like mango butter, oat extract and jojoba oil, or rich in antioxidants to help fight off skin damaging free radicals like carrot extract, you can be sure you are receiving an undiluted dose of these ingredients. These pure ingredients, free of water (and the preservatives usually added alongside water to help keep the product stable and prevent the bacteria which breed in water) can protect our skin barrier from damage, including the irritation that can sometimes occur when using synthetic preservatives. When we take out the water, the potent active ingredients can penetrate the skin and leave us with some impressive results.

As well as the benefits to our skin, waterless beauty is as much a planetary investment as it is a personal one. With statistics like two thirds of the entire world's population are expected to experience some sort of water shortage by 2025 – companies are being encouraged to focus on their water footprint now more than ever before, opting for waterless beauty products definitely helps fight the cause. Going waterless even goes as far as impacting the packaging our products are in – a product made mostly of water requires a lot more packaging than those without in order to keep it tight and sealed. So removing water from a formula truly can have a knock-on effect in ways we might not have otherwise thought of. 

So, whether your motivation for joining the trend is to reap the rewards through your skin, or to help the environment preserve its precious resources – one thing is for sure, the benefits are plentiful. 


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