Beauty Forecast: Waterless

When it comes to beauty, we’re always looking for a way to treat our skin a bit better and find the most innovative formulations that give great results. Which is why we’re hoping our latest beauty prediction is less of a trend, and more part of a long-term movement towards a different kind of skincare product.

Waterless beauty has been the word on the lips of industry insiders for a while now. It refers to products that are free from water, using botanical ingredients and oils instead, upping the potency and diminishing the need for preservatives and other unnecessary fillers.

A recent report by market research company Mintel declared that within beauty, ‘Water is the new luxury”. The brand’s Global Beauty and Personal Care Analyst commented: “Water is set to be a precious commodity as consumption outstrips supply. The more consumers become aware of this, the more beauty brands will need to change how they manufacture and formulate products to limit their dependence on water.”

In mainstream cosmetics, some of the big brands are already making these preparations - L’Oreal have pledged to reduce their water consumption by 60% per unit of finished product by 2020. In the natural and organic beauty industry, the wheels are already very much in motion. So with the trend gaining traction, the question is: why should we be buying waterless beauty products in the first place?

The move towards waterless beauty originates from the skincare-pioneering country of Korea, where water-free cosmetics have been used for years for their potency and effectiveness. In a country of 10-step routines, it’s not surprising that Koreans have been championing the trend and relishing in the powerful skincare benefits.

Water usually makes up about 70% of most traditional creams, lotions, toners and cleansers. You’ll recognise it as ‘Aqua’ on the ingredients list of a product and the likelihood is it’ll be the first ingredient you see - i.e. the one with the highest quantity. Water is used because of it’s affordability (it makes a cheap base for products), however the great myth comes down to its hydration properties. Although a splash of water on our skin can feel hydrating, overuse of water topically dries out our skin in the long run. One of the oldest beauty hacks in the book is not to over-wash your face; and harsh, water-based cleansers and moisturisers can have the same effect - stripping the skin of its oils and breaking down its natural barrier.

Waterless beauty is designed to have the opposite effect. Without water, the need for other emulsifiers and additives is decreased. Oils, botanicals and active ingredients provide the main base, creating a more concentrated solution, and - you guessed it - better results.

However, although waterless beauty products are designed to be more potent, no water doesn’t always mean a more effective, concentrated solution. The reason being is that beauty brands are free to substitute water with another affordable filler, which can be just as diluting to the ingredients as good old water. At Glasshouse, we’re in favour of natural and organic brands who are deciding to formulate waterless products for the sole purpose of enabling the other ingredients to sing louder. Vitamin C, for instance, is highly sensitive to water and can result in the vitamin becoming oxidised and loosing its well-known antioxidant qualities. We suggest scanning ingredients lists and doing your skincare clueing-up before committing.

Texture plays a part in it as well. Water in a product usually makes the solution easier to apply and easier to absorb. Think of a luxurious-feeling moisturiser that’s pliable, spreads evenly and with ease. Just like switching to sulphate-free shampoo, switching to a waterless beauty product may take a bit of getting used - balm products and rich oils are good examples. However if these types of products are used appropriately, you’ll probably find they go further and last longer than their water-based counterparts.

Some brands are manifesting the idea of waterless beauty in a more literal way. Take East London based-skincare guru Guy Morgan - his high-performing products include a trio of face masks that come in powder form - designed to be manually mixed with water and applied topically. His decision to veto water was crystal clear: “I wanted to formulate something that could focus on the finest quality ingredients whilst keeping it simple and effective” he explained, “With powders, the benefits we get for our skin is that we have a fresh mixture every time we use it, one that’s not relying on preservatives to keep it fresh.”

Guy’s point is an important one. Zero water cuts out the need for preservatives, which are some of the most common reasons behind skin allergies and irritations. Instead, Guy’s products use “various sun-dried clays, minerals and powdered plant extracts, such as the super hydrating Marshmallow Root” and if you want to avoid water altogether, his clay masks can also be mixed with a plant-based carrier oil such as Rosehip or Jojoba, for an extra hit of nourishment.

Image: Agata Wolanska and Amelia Martyn for Guy Morgan
Image: Agata Wolanska and Amelia Martyn for Guy Morgan

Co-founder of Beauty Mart and former Glasshouse-interviewee Millie Kendall has also been quoted supporting Guy’s theory of powder-based solutions. Speaking to Get The Gloss, Millie cited powder products as part of the future face of the beauty industry, saying “These products are tapping into the global concern with the lack of water and how we use it in cosmetics. It alleviates the manufacturer’s problem of adding water in the manufacturing process where a lot of waste can occur. It also lowers the cost of distribution as powder is lighter than water.”

Ecologically, the benefits of waterless beauty are definitely worth noting and the shift in gear towards this type of cosmetic is certainly an exciting one. The fact that minimising the amount of water in our skincare products can have so many positive effects on our skin is an exciting one - innovation in the beauty market has hit its stride recently, but this is a movement we genuinely feel excited about. Innovative skincare has to be high-performing for it have longevity, and we have a feeling this particular area of beauty achieves exactly that. Long may it last.

Words: Lucy Vincent
Cover image: Frances Nazardo

Share this:

More From The Journal

  1. A Sustainable Department Store: Workshops

    ​From making your own natural facial masque to a still life drawing session, join us at one of our events taking place next week at A Sustainable Department Store.

    More +
  2. Astrology with Daliah Roth: Gemini

    ​As part of a new Astrology themed series, Glasshouse friend Daliah Roth - The Highgate Astrologer - is bringing her expertise to the Journal for a guest edited post decoding this season’s sign; Gemeni.

    More +
  3. A Sustainable Department Store

    ​Bringing together consciously created goods by independent makers, A Sustainable Department Store is launching its first pop-up from 29th May - 4th June. We’ve spoken to four of the female founders behind the brands that will be joining Glasshouse in the Store.

    More +
  4. Masterclass: Fringe Matters

    ​Wondering whether a fringe is for you? Our latest masterclass tackles face shapes, styling and upkeep to help you make a decision once and for all.

    More +
  5. Glasshouse x Otiumberg

    ​We got together with photographer Thea Lovstad and jewellery brand Otiumberg to create a warm, summer inspired editorial featuring elegant gold jewellery and natural, glowing makeup.

    More +
  6. What Is Sustainable Fashion?

    ​As Fashion Revolution Week kicks off, we are exploring what it really means for fashion to be sustainable or ethical. With help from Sandra Capponi, co-founder of the Good on You app, we have put together a guide on how to made your wardrobe as planet, people and animal friendly as possible.

    More +
  7. Local Loves: Straw London

    Our newest East London neighbourhood shop is home to an enviable collection of vintage straw, wicker and crochet bags, sourced from far-flung corners of the world. Straw London has taken up a temporary home in London Fields - we catch up with brand founder Emily to learn more about all things Straw.

    More +
  8. Q&A: Holly Allenby of The Acey

    ​With a brand new business model that aims to tackle clothing waste in an innovative, stylish way, we catch up with Holly Allenby of The Acey. Proving that sustainability and style needn’t be separate entities, Holly tells us what she’s doing differently and how her latest collection is her most sustainable solution to date.

    More +
  9. The Plastic Problem

    Our ocean has a microplastics problem; these tiny pieces of plastic that will never quite disappear have been found on beaches across the planet, in the bellies of marine animals and even in our own food chain. The beauty and fashion industries have a big part to play in the plastic clean up and so we’ve dived into the issue to find out exactly how these particles are getting into the ocean and what we can do to help stop them.

    More +
  10. Beauty Trend: Coral

    Fresh, bright and full of optimism: coral is the springtime update your makeup bag is ready for. Inspired by Living Coral, Pantone’s colour of the year, we delve into coral’s many guises and recommend how you can introduce it your beauty routine.

    More +
  11. Reads: Body by Alexa Coe

    We chat with London based illustrator Alexa Coe about self-portraiture, our relationships with our body and her newly released photography and art book, Body.

    More +
  12. Hair Trend: Headbands

    Embracing the ongoing revival of 90s accessories, we’re now turning our attention to headbands. Spotted across the SS19 catwalks and striking a balance between playful and chic, the grown-up headband is a practical accessory that makes an unfussy statement.

    More +
  13. Adaptogens in Beauty

    With the ability to regulate the body’s reaction to stress and anxiety, adaptogens have been a key part of Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda for centuries, but also contain a plethora of benefits for the skin when applied topically. From turmeric to aloe vera, we’ve rounded up our top adaptogenic ingredients to look out for in your skincare routine.

    More +
  14. Q&A: G Binsky

    Taking the Instagram world by storm, G Binsky combines the worlds of ceramics and jewellery in a unique collection of London made, wearable art. We speak to the founder Gabriela Bins about the inspiration for the brand and the importance of handmade items.

    More +
  15. Beauty Forecast: CBD

    The skincare world is constantly abuzz with new ingredients and technology, but one ingredient in particular seems to have taken 2019 by storm. CBD is popping up in our facial oils and cleansing bars and here at Glasshouse we have cut through the buzz to find out what CBD is really all about - and how it can benefit our beauty routines.

    More +
  16. Q&A: Scarlet Crawley

    ​Having left her publishing job to launch contemporary bodywork studio MASAJ, Scarlet Crawley is redefining the concept of massage, using the power of touch to cleanse the body and mind whilst restoring anatomical balance and combating the negative effects of city living. We sat down with her to discuss the benefits of massage and how best to incorporate it into our modern lifestyle.

    More +
Load more posts