Sustainable development, energy and food production, social and economic development, and healthy ecosystems all require one thing in abundance. Clean water. Water is at the core of human survival on this planet, a key player in adaptations to changes in climate. It is a crucial link between society and the environment.
But according to the UN, it is a rights issue. Do you know that currently, 844 million people do not have access to drinking water services? In addition, an estimated 3 billion people don't have access to basic handwashing facilities.
With our luxurious lifestyles, we are very dependent on clean water - our economy, from farming, recreation, tourism, and energy production to something as simple as a face cream, requires clean water to operate and flourish.
If you are into skincare, you know what suits or doesn't suit your skin. You look for superfoods and active ingredients such as hyaluronic acid for combatting signs of aging; non-comedogenic formulas to calm and reduce acne in acne-prone skin. You read through the ingredient list and check off botanical extracts, potent antioxidants, and active vitamins. Similarly, you go through that list to check for ingredients you know don't suit your skin or are generally bad for it.
Yes, the beauty industry has changed several of its old practices, but it still uses certain ingredients like parabens, preservatives, artificial fragrances, and petrochemicals. These ingredients are cheaper to manufacture a product and are a staple in few skincare formulations. And then there's water. This simple compound has stirred quite a debate in the industry on whether it should be part of skincare products or not?
Why Water in Skin Care?
To understand why water is a target in skincare formulations, you need to understand what water is. Yes, water is vital. It is the basis to sustain all forms of life. A “universal solvent," it can dissolve several substances; more than any other chemical or compound on Earth. Even 60% of the human body is also water. With its lieu of properties, it is no surprise that it is the main ingredient in numerous skincare products. Water is considered in skincare products as it absorbs and extracts compounds from other ingredients. This property of water makes these ingredients more readily available to our skin. Some of the most common reasons why you will find "aqua" as one of the first ingredients on skin care products is:
· It is a universal solvent. Its addition into the skincare formula helps extract other water-soluble compounds such as botanical extracts from calendula, nettle, and clover, etc. Supercharged compounds dissolve readily in water, and you get your money's worth. Your product lasts longer and remains just as effective as your first bought, as water is a universal solvent.
· For the emulsification of oils – to create a creamy, whipped, and luscious texture that we are used to and love.
· Water is the foundation for the skincare product. Meaning it acts as a great base because it is naturally unscented. It is hypoallergenic and is not likely to cause an adverse reaction (no one is allergic to water).
Using water as a filler allows beauty companies to use less of their more expensive and active ingredients while simultaneously selling the product at a low price. In short, the use of water in skincare products is equivalent to "efficient marketing practice." The more water a product contains, the more preservatives it has as well. Why? Because water is the basis of all life, including bacteria. To keep bacterial growth at bay, preservatives are a must. Parabens are preservatives that are used in cosmetics and body and skincare products. While they may prolong shelf life, they also cause health problems and aggravate skin ailments.
But skincare without water is still achievable.
What Is Waterless Skin Care/Beauty?
Anhydrous, water-free, or waterless beauty refers to products that do not contain water. It uses soothing botanical ingredients and nourishing oils to create a potent formula that diminishes the need for unnecessary fillers or preservatives.
Some products are water-free naturally (face oils or bath soaks). But as mentioned above, commercial products to achieve that creamy texture are never water-free. Some companies replace water with rose water and try to market it as water-free but rose water is still water, the same goes for aloe vera gel – contains 99.5% water.
Waterless Beauty Benefits
By 2025, 1.8 billion people on the planet will be living in countries with water scarcity, while two-thirds of the Earth's population will be living in water-stressed conditions. Considering how vital water is to life on Earth, it's important to conserve where ever we can. While, the commercial beauty industry is finally moving in the right direction (companies like L'Oréal, Procter and Gamble, and Unilever) to reduce their carbon footprint by reducing or minimizing their water consumption. Smaller beauty brands, on the other hand, have completely switched to waterless formulas.
The Products Last Longer:
This means that less product is used, but it is potent and lasts longer. You won't have to bin it as quickly or frequently. And coincidentally, that also benefits the environment. It is sustainable.
Free of Nasties:
Most products have 80-95%, meaning the active ingredients are diluted. Similarly, water is the basis of life and provides the perfect environment for bacteria to grow - to keep bacterial growth from flourishing, chemical preservatives are added, which irritate the skin. With a water-free formula, bacteria have a difficult time growing.
Finally, Our thoughts on waterless products
Even though, we call waterless products are more potent and good quality, there are certain products where we think, water is the appropriate to use into the formula such as essences, hair mists, body rinses, face rinse and toners. Since the presence of water in them allows the hydration and that could be the main function of those products. With other products, like hydrating serums or moisturisers, we think it’s better to go waterless.