Waterless Beauty 101

Water is one of the most common components of many cosmetics and often appears first or second on the ingredients list. In fact, a large bottle of shampoo, conditioner, or moisturizer can contain up to 95% water1. This water doesn’t allow much room for the active ingredients, leaving many beauty enthusiasts asking why they add so much water to cosmetics in the first place.
Why Do We Use Water in Cosmetics?
Water acts as a solvent in beauty and personal care products. It is the medium in which active ingredients are dissolved and helps form emulsions with oil-based ingredients. It can also improve a product’s texture and make it easier to apply. Depending on the region, cosmetic manufacturers may require purified water in their formulations.
Purifying the water ensures it is free from toxins and pollutants that could negatively affect health. Apart from adding water directly to the product, manufacturers also use it to produce other ingredients, such as plant extracts and essential oils.
What is Waterless Beauty?
The waterless beauty movement aims to remove unnecessary water from cosmetics and personal care products to combat global water scarcity. The trend started in South Korea and eventually reached the USA, UK, and the world. Sometimes called water-free or anhydrous beauty, waterless beauty brands substitute water for oils, waxes, and butter to create more concentrated products.
Waterless Beauty and Environmental Sustainability
The waterless beauty movement aims to conserve our freshwater resources to prevent water scarcity. Unicef predicts that by 2025, half of the world’s population could live in areas facing water scarcity. This prediction further reinforces the need to save water wherever possible.
Some waterless cosmetics and personal care products, for example, alcohol-based hand sanitizer, can work without water. Others use less water overall to reduce the demand during production. Both approaches may help ease water shortages worldwide.
What’s more, products that contain less water often have a smaller carbon footprint. Water is heavy, and removing it from a formula makes for lighter, more fuel-efficient products (transport costs). More compact, water-free products also typically require less packaging overall, another big win for the environment.
Other Benefits of Using Water-Free Beauty Products
When you remove the excess water from a beauty product, it becomes more concentrated. Higher concentrations of active ingredients often mean you can use less product to get the same results. For example, a large daub of shower gel is equivalent to just a few passes over a soap bar. Giving the active, organic ingredients center stage could also increase cosmetics’ overall performance.
Another benefit of waterless beauty is a reduced reliance on preservatives. Water is a magnet for microbes, and water-based products typically require a lot of preservatives to keep them from attracting bacteria and fungi.
Eliminating water from a formulation allows brands to create preservative-free products with a longer shelf life. Instead of using harsh chemicals to protect the product from mold, manufacturers can add gentle, natural preservatives such as rosemary oil or grapefruit seed extract.
Craft Waterless Beauty Products With Advanced Biotech
Going waterless can help you reduce your product’s environmental impact. Advanced Biotech’s range of premium natural and organic extracts, isolates, and other scent molecules are ideal for adding fragrance to water-free cosmetics. Try our lavender, rose, and citrus molecules to build a robust scent profile without unnecessary water. Please contact us for more information about our full product range.

1 https://natrue.org/water-in-cosmetics-a-dive-into-water-free-beauty/