Sustainability, Trends, Wellness / Self-Care

PSA: waterless Skincare products are trending

The skin care industry is changing.

words by: Natasha Marsh
Feb 20, 2022

The other day, I was washing my new two-piece set—a new trouser and shirt—and I accidentally set my washer to a full load instead of small. As you can imagine, the large cycle provided way too much excess water for the three articles of clothing that I put in there. I felt so guilty for using up more water than I needed on such a small amount of laundry and felt icky about it all day.


As a conscious consumer, I am constantly reworking how I use water—how much of it I use, how I can conserve it, and alternative ways to not contribute to the risk of running out of water.



One thing that I’ve been really attempting to do is clean up my skincare routine by eliminating products that contain excess water, or utilize too much water to produce. Have you ever considered just how much of your favorite serum, moisturizer, or shampoo and conditioner are pure water? Sure, there are nourishing and hydrating ingredients mixed in, but what percentage of it is water? According to most studies and formalists, there is way more water in your favorite products than you would have imagined. In fact, most grooming products are made of 80 to 90% water.


While it isn’t as much as it takes to produce a single denim jean (1 ton of water), with so much water in your products, it affects the active ingredients and, of course, the environment. To combat the negative affects on the environment and climate, formalists and scientists are working on ideas to produce waterless beauty products that are both densely concentrated, and less harmful for the environment. Which is great, but to fully understand the concern, why is there so much water in skincare products?


Why is there so much water in skincare products?

Well, water is a solvent for skincare products and helps form emulsions. It is cost efficient and easily accessible. But when you think about cities like Flint, and countries like Ethiopia, water scarcity is becoming a major problem around the world, and is extremely taxing and heavy to send around the world via mail, or trunks. There are carbon costs, actual transit costs, and packaging waste to be considered. In fact, over 3 billion plastic bottles are made for most shampoo products each year, and of that plastic, only 10% gets recycled. The numbers really are startling.


Fortunately, consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the packaging waste and water waste, as climate change continues to worsen. Consumers are becoming passionate about reading ingredient labels and want to live more sustainable lives. Not only are products without water better for the environment, but they are able to last longer, as products are no longer diluted, or “watered down” with the water. Water-free products are cleaner formulas without chemical preservatives, as well.


Skincare isn’t the only way to do your part to lessen the effects of climate change. You can also look to your closet, and shop sustainably. What are some initiatives you’re taking to lessen your ecological footprint?


Photo via Green + Bare