Are You Using a Water-based Face Cream? Here is Why You Should Consider Going Waterless

The water of life might be more destructive than we think.

4 Minute ReadTrend Report

01.04.22 (Updated 12.12.22)

This may well come as a surprise but water-based creams are on the outs. For an industry that holds hydration next to godliness, the concept of waterless beauty products might seem completely at odds. After decades of being warned against the perilous ageing properties of dry and dehydrated skin, why on earth wouldn’t we want our beauty products to be brim-full of water?

Why We Should Move Away from Water-based Skincare Altogether

The Beauty Industry Needs to Be Mindful of The Environment

First off, there’s the issue of sustainability. We’re staring down the barrel of a global water shortage and, in just three years’ time, two thirds of the world’s population will be living with water scarcity and only 1% of Earth’s water supply is accessible freshwater.

Sobering stats indeed, and the beauty industry’s vociferous use of freshwater - both in production and within formulations - is high on the list to slow that rate down. You’ve heard of your carbon footprint, but now it’s time to consider your water footprint too.

Water-based Creams Are Not as Hydrating as You May Think

Traditionally, water makes up about 80% of beauty formulas, which is why you see ‘aqua’ dominating the top spot of every ingredient’s list. However, it’s not necessarily because water is needed; often it’s there as a filler ingredient to hold all the other actives together, improving product consistency and spreadability.

It also turns out that water isn’t nearly as hydrating as we might attribute it to be. Water evaporates, and takes with it skin’s precious natural oil reserves. What’s more, water in skincare products is a breeding ground for germs, bacteria and micro-organisms, which then leads to the inclusion of preservatives to stop formulas going off.

Is All Skincare Water-based?

Realistically, some beauty products still need water. But this is where beauty brands are getting innovative, using seaweed algae extract as a water replacement or utilising waste water from citrus fruits - a by-product that’s usually discarded. Rest assured, this is nothing like when we all started exploring natural beauty products and were mightily disappointed with the somewhat backward offering. Waterless beauty is tech savvy, results driven, and there’s plenty to choose from.

Reasons to Switch out From Water-based Skincare?

  1. Removing the water content allows more space for powerful, targeted actives.
  2. Zero water content greatly reduces the risk of bacteria forming in your skincare and consequently, much longer expiry dates without the need for additional preservatives.
  3. Now we’re all starting to jet off again, anhydrous products make for the ultimate travel friendly formulas. They pack lighter, travel better and there’ll be no 100ml limit at airport security for you my friend.
  4. It’s not just skincare. Hair care, body care and make-up all have the potential to go predominantly waterless too.

There are now waterless versions to supersede most of your regular beauty products, but if a beauty product isn’t a gel, cream or lotion, what does it look like? Well it can be solid like a balm, oil-based or in a powder-to-liquid form that requires just a few drops of water before application. Huge investment, product development and tech advancements are being utilised by cosmetic companies to make both production and formulations less aqua-reliant. Because quite simply, waterless products must be the future of beauty.

The Best Waterless Beauty Products We’ve Come Across

  • Chanel N°1 Red Camellia Powder-To-Foam Cleanser is proof that your skincare arsenal can remain chic whilst still having a positive impact on the planet.

  • All-round heavenly to use, BEAUTY PIE Plantastic Apricot Butter Cleansing Balm is an antioxidant, anti-aging balm that glides over the face, systematically removing impurities and deeply nourishing skin.

  • Aesop Remove is an entirely oil-based eye makeup remover that swipes away every trace of make-up including waterproof mascara and long-wear graphic eyeliner.

  • Clinique’s Fresh Pressed 7-Day System sachets contain a mighty 10% L-ascorbic acid that only activates the moment you use it. Vitamin C is a devil for degrading at pace but this ingenious sealed powder format retains ultimate potency.

  • In its stark, MUJI-esque glass bottles, Forgo powder-to-liquid hand soap is pleasingly utilitarian chic and you’ll struggle to choose between the sophisticated scents of the refills.

  • Parla Toothpaste Tablets resemble Mentos mints and are a well-organised subscription affair. A little mental adjustment is needed in getting used to them but dentists say that toothpastes sans foaming agents are the way forward.

  • A world-first for the hair care sector, sprinkle a small amount of Susteau Moon Dust shampoo powder into the palm of your hand mid-shower and lather it up as usual for thorough hair cleaning.

  • SBTCT sees the humble soap welcomed back into polite society and updated to include skin boosting retinoids and chemical exfoliators.

As we all become more conscious of our impact on the natural environment, our thirst for water-based beauty products ever declines. When we have the option to take advantage of advancing technologies and move towards slicker formulations, waterless beauty seems the smartest future beauty trend.


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