Conscious consumers are choosing beauty products formulated with zero, or very little water or those that can be used without (or with less) water due to concerns about excessive washing, sustainability and preservatives.
There are two issues that are driving the waterless trend.
Issue No 1 – We’re just too clean
Culturally, we’re fearful of dirt so we over-use detergent based cleaners which ultimately compromise the skin’s barrier function – its ability to keep dirt out. The skin has its own self-cleaning system of sebum and natural microbes that repel and neutralise environmental pathogens. Washing away this protective shield exposes skin so it’s no wonder that there is a reported increase in diseases such as eczema.
And in, perhaps, the ultimate irony, because the anti-bacterial agents in washes are used in such low concentrations, once they’ve been rinsed down the drain, microbes are likely to adapt and evolve with the potentially disastrous result of antibiotic resistant strains of super bugs.
“Keeping clean used to be about disease prevention. Now the culture of whiter than white has weakened our immune systems and lined the pockets of the detergent manufacturers.”
Kate Fletcher of the Centre for Sustainable Fashion at London College of Fashion .
Issue No 2 – Water is not a renewable resource
If you think back to that geography class where you learned how rain is made, you’ll recall it comes from evaporated sea water that makes clouds which then produce rain. The reason so much money is spent on trying to source water on other planets is because we’re running out of it on earth.
Issue No 3 – Water in products is a breeding ground for bacteria
The basic rule is: the more water present in a product’s formula, the more it will need a preservative to prevent the growth of bacteria (introduced the minute it’s exposed to air and dirty fingers, especially in a warm, bathroom environment). With the hysteria over parabens, manufacturers are having to remove these from products and come up with alternative ways to preserve products. Preservatives render a product sterile – so that no bacteria can grow – so there’s a side issue related to active ingredients. If an ingredient is ‘active’ a preservative will render it inactive immediately, so you have to weigh up the importance of preservatives vs actives. Of course, if there’s no water in a formula or very little water (read the INCI list on the back of pack and if Aqua (water) is within the first three ingredients, then that’s a lot of water) then there is no or less of a requirement for a preservative.
Ways to go Waterless
Choose products formulated without or with minimal water.
DHC Face Wash Powder – add a tiny amount of water then use the Foam Mesh to create a lather. Remove with a damp cloth.
Pixi + Caroline Hirons Double Cleanse – the Solid Cleansing Oil contains no water, as does Emma Hardie Moringa Cleansing Balm. Both can be removed with a damp cloth rather than copious amounts of water
Cut back on daily hair washing by using a dry shampoo in between times. Colab Active Sheer Invisible Dry Shampoo smells fresh and devours oil at the roots.
Choose powder make-up over liquid with Mai Couture’s Papier Poudre bronzer, highlighter, blusher and powder infused make-up blotters. They’re small, chic, handbag sized and easy to use to create a glowy complexion in seconds.