Waterless beauty is an emerging trend, and for good reason - most beauty products are made, primarily, of water. If you take a look at the ingredient list of any liquid shampoo, water will almost always be listed as the first ingredient (highest percentage of the formula). Let's take deep dive into what makes the waterless beauty movement so important.
What exactly is waterless beauty?
Typically more concentrated, they’re products formulated without water that are then activated by the introduction of it. Many of these use butters, oils or waxes and oil soluble actives as ingredients, making these concentrated formulas 100% active ingredients. And while waterless beauty isn’t entirely new–think of the humble soap bar, as well as balms, sticks and powders –the category is now expanding with innovative concepts like Everist’s shampoo, conditioner and body wash concentrates.
What are the benefits of it?
First there is the formula, which is far more concentrated so a little goes a long way. It also means there is less need for added preservatives. “Waterless beauty products are some of the cleanest formulas on the market, which cannot always be done when water is introduced,” says Jessica Stevenson, co-founder of Everist. Their formats also make them more portable and convenient and easier to transport by reducing shipping weight and space, which reduces carbon footprint. “Traditional shower care products are usually around 70% water and to us that didn’t make sense to be shipping that much water when you’re using them in the shower,” says Stevenson. They also don’t require as much protection as liquids so there is less packaging required. “Having our products packaged in aluminum tubes has many benefits beyond just the environmental one,” says Jenkins. “The tubes help protect the integrity of the formulas from light and contamination - they don’t ‘suck’ air or water back into them like plastic tubes.” Meanwhile other forms like bars can opt for paper, and omit plastic.
What’s the problem with water in beauty products?
“Water itself is not inherently bad, of course”, says Jayme Jenkins, co-founder of Everist. However, it does dilute active ingredients, adds more volume to products, increasing weight and thus carbon footprint for shipping, as well as the amount of packaging required.” Water also contributes to bacteria growth, which necessitates the need for preservatives to prevent contamination.
Why is the beauty industry so reliant on it?
Because it’s both inexpensive and abundant, water is the foundation for most products. Check the ingredient list on most items and you’ll see it’s the first ingredient. It also helps dissolve active ingredients, form emulsions and contributes to aspects such as consistency and spreadability. As well, formulating without water presents major challenges. “Getting the right texture and performance using different combinations of active ingredients is not easy,” says Jenkins. There is also a perception factor. “In the heydays of big box retail, water was added to soap formulations to make plastic bottles bigger in order to give more perceived value and have more shelf presence," says Jenkins. “In an e-com-first world, this no longer makes sense".
What makes Everist so innovative?
While bars and powder formats exist in the hair care space, the brand wanted to create something that was closer to what people were used to using. That’s how they came upon shampoo, conditioner and more recently, body wash, concentrate pastes all activated by water in the shower. They also recognized not everyone wants to switch to shampoo and conditioner bars and preferred the experience of conventional hair washing. That combined with the superior performance means that Everist “feels like an upgrade, not a compromise,” says Stevenson.
The bottom line?
“We believe that waterless is the future of beauty,” says Jenkins. “We’re starting in haircare, but the waterless movement has meaningful applications across bodycare, skincare, and beyond.” The brand also believes that everyone wants to live more sustainably but also desires high performance and convenience from their beauty products. “Our purpose is to give them all of those things. Only by making sustainable products that are better in every way than the status quo will we change this industry.”