‘Water scarcity’ isn’t a new phrase for us. Demographic growth and economic development are constantly adding to the pressure on water. United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization has stated that by 2025, 1800 million people are expected to be living in countries or regions with “absolute” water scarcity.
We are on the brink of a global water crisis. Raman Tyagi, Founder of Neer Foundation, highlights 3 major water related issues in India – scarcity, pollution and flooding. He further adds that India predominantly depends on drinkable water for all its operations. The situation of water shortage will worsen in the coming decade.
Like many other industries, the beauty and personal care industry has awakened to this reality. As a result, the concept of waterless beauty evolved. This is a big step that may become the backbone of this industry. Free of water or anhydrous cosmetics originated in South Korea. This novel concept is gradually being adopted by several beauty brands.
Pick up any of your skincare or beauty product and take a look at the ingredients. Chances are high that largest portion of your product contains water, sometimes also mentioned as ‘aqua’. Water is used in almost all beauty and skincare products. Dr. Priyanka Tyagi, Cosmetologist, MD, Omorfia Aesthetic Clinic, says, “Adding water adds softness and malleability to the product which seems desirable but in reality doesn’t improve the effectiveness. A water-based product has a lot of limitations: it has a low shelf life, it easily gets contaminated with bacteria, fungi and microbes, and it is diluted and hence less effective.”
Dr. Blossom Kochhar, Founder & Chairperson of the Blossom Kochhar Group of Companies, talks about the use of water in the beauty industry. She says, “Water is used in beauty products to increase the ph balance and make the skin more hydrating. When we add water to our products we have to add preservatives to prevent the water from evaporating, hence most products might have adverse effects on the skin and body. We never know how the preservative or chemical that has been added to the products reacts in the body and turn to be harmful.”
Brands like aN-Hydra, Pinch of Colour and Vemel Waterless Skincare have completely stopped the use of water in their products. Indian brands are also adopting this new and sustainable approach. Certain products from Manish Malhotra Beauty are waterless, including the 9 In 1 Eyeshadow Palette and soft matte lipstick. Cruelty-free makeup brand LIT also has a range of products that is anhydrous. Their Radiant Matte Compact Powder and Creamy Matte Lipstick contain no water.
Several products, namely concentrated serums, shampoo bars, powder hand wash etc, have already hit the market. “I believe this is the new era for beauty. I think waterless beauty is the future and the beauty industry will and should embrace it now,” says Dr. Blossom Kochhar.
Dr. Priyanka Tyagi feels that every beauty product can be made waterless; be it lipstick, make up, conditioner or anything else. At first, it might feel strange to use a bar of conditioner but it is only a matter of changing habits. She further says, “Since waterless products are more potent and concentrated they tend to be costlier compared to water-based products. This higher cost is easily adjusted with longer life-cycle, lesser packaging and inventory cost.”
Anhydrous beauty and skincare products seem to the future. They’re more effective and have a longer shelf life. With Indian brands plunging into this new concept, we are going to witness more waterless products in the market in the times to come.