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  • Writer's pictureCharlotte White


Updated: Mar 5

The world’s supply of fresh water is reaching a critical point and as we all become more climate aware we are realising that the planet’s resources are finite. With the UN predicting that by 2025 *gulp*, a massive TWO THIRDS of the planet’s population will be living in water-stressed conditions.

Nope, this isn’t some scary Hollywood script this is (unfortunately) the real world. Population growth accelerated personal and industrial consumption, and economic development are increasing the global demand for water by 1% year on year. The average person in the western world consumes 140 litres of water a day and with the global population predicted to reach 10.2 BILLION by 2050, demand is set to outpace supply.

person holding soap

The rise of waterless beauty:

The concept of ‘waterless beauty’ originally started in South Korea and quietly started gaining traction in the west as far back as 2015. It represents a desire for clean, travel-friendly and non-toxic formulations amid growing sustainability concerns.

Why does this matter for brands?

The impending water crisis will pose a number of problems for beauty & lifestyle brands in both their manufacturing processes and for consumers using their products. Rising awareness of water quality and scarcity is inspiring consumers to demand and seek out products that use less water to make and use. Transparent supply chains and a clear demonstration of the value of this precious resource throughout the production process will reveal certain brands becoming a cut above the rest.

"Think you can still get away with having ‘aqua’ at the top of your ingredients list? Think again."

How best to adapt?

Putting spend behind product innovation now could really pay dividends in the long run when it comes to waterless beauty. Dry or solid products that are activated by water currently represent the future of waterless beauty, with Mintel stating that 13% of UK consumers (and 15% of French) are already interested in dry-use cleansing products.

BYOW (bring your own water) formats are also another great source of innovation. These products are safer and more effective than traditional water-based products. Think you can still get away with having ‘aqua’ at the top of your ingredients list? Think again. Unfortunately, your consumers are wise to the old trick of using water as an inexpensive filler ingredient. They’re all too aware that this reduced the effectiveness of the active ingredients and the need to use more product overall which in turn generates more waste. After all, removing water from a product also gives it a longer shelf life and drastically reduced the weight, volume and packaging of the product, lowering carbon emissions throughout its lifecycle so it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom!

The bottom line:

Dismissing waterless beauty as simply yet another trend or flavour of the moment may prove to be a costly mistake. The evidence suggests that the growing mindfulness around sustainability is inspiring meaningful and permanent change in the way we produce and purchase the products we all use on a day-to-day basis. It will increasingly take on the guise of an everyday necessity. With water reserves running low, consumers are making incremental lifestyle changes that translate to positive steps for the planet. Going waterless will mean swapping convenience for conservation and that can only be viewed as a great thing.

Until next time,

Char x

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