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Consumers Are Saying No to Excess H2O With Waterless Beauty

Waterless beauty is revolutionizing the beauty industry. Here are the brands to watch this year.

Written by
Stephanie Osmanski

Water is a requirement in beauty products... right? Well, not nearly as much as you think. And thanks to the waterless beauty trend, you'll soon be seeing even more options available—shampoo, makeup, and beyond—that are either powdered concentrates or have been formulated entirely without water.

According to Future Marketing Insights (FMI), waterless beauty sales are expected to grow at a rate of more than 13% between 2021 and 2031. And the cool thing about waterless beauty? It's not entirely a new phenomenon. It's been around since 2015, starting in South Korea. But now, we're seeing more and more brands participating in this trend.

One company that's been getting a lot of buzz for its waterless formula is Everist. The hair and body concentrates come in tubes that are 99.7% pure aluminum and infinitely recyclable. Just wet your hands, disperse the concentrate into your palm, and rub with water to activate. As you work it into your hair or across your body, you'll experience a creamy lather.

“At Everist, we believe that water-activated and concentrated formulas are the future of the beauty industry,” says Jayme Jenkins, Everist's co-founder and chief brand officer. “Most shampoos are more than 70% water. Why ship a heavy, plastic bottle filled with (mostly) water around the world when you're going to use it in the shower? To us, this didn't make sense.”

Kate McLeod, the CEO and co-founder of her brand of the same name, was also at the initial wave of the trend with her beloved solid body moisturizers. The Daily Stone has a coconut oil base that melts on contact to intensely nourish the skin. While the average beauty products contain anywhere from 60 to 80% water, this one contains no water or synthetics, making it waste-free and better for both the planet and your skin.

"Some people look at the body stone and are like 'Oh, it's a little small.' What I like to tell people about waterless beauty is to think of it as a concentrate. A little goes a long way," she says. "Because our Body Stones are waterless, that saves 52% of emissions during transportation.

Everist and Kate McLeod aren't the only companies representing waterless beauty. There's also Ethique's plastic-free and waterless beauty bars, Tatcha's Rice Polish Foaming Enzyme Powder, Bawdy's Water-Activated Body Wash, Alleyoop’s All-in-One Cleansing Stick, and Susteau's Moondust Hair Wash. Even Drybar has hopped on the trend with its One-Two Punch Water-Activated 2-In-1 Hair Wash.

While waterless beauty products still require water to activate them, it’s significant that these products don't include water in manufacturing. After all, if many shampoos are 70% water, that’s a lot of water waste, leading to an increase in our individual water footprints.

There’s another benefit to waterless formulas, too. It's easier to fit waterless beauty into the category of clean beauty. Going waterless means fewer chemicals are needed, so waterless beauty can have the power to significantly decrease both the beauty industry's high water footprint and its pollution.

"Waterless also enables you to make super 'clean' cosmetic formulas because anhydrous formats require less preservatives," Jenkins says. "Water feeds bacteria growth."

And where do the chemicals go once they're rinsed out of your hair or off your skin? Down the drain, right into our waterways where chemicals, preservatives, and other nasty additives can wreak havoc on our water supply.

The more companies that rethink their ingredients—and hopefully opt for clean, waterless formulas down the line—the better off the planet will be.