waterless formulations

Trend Watch: 6 Reasons to Embrace Waterless Beauty Formulations

A top trend for 2021

Popular in, and inspired by, Korean Beauty regimens, waterless beauty products have emerged as a truly global trend. Along with sustainability impacts, global clean water availability concerns and improved product efficacy, there are many reasons savvy consumers are embracing the waterless beauty movement. Let’s take a look at a few as well as highlight our top Waterless Guide Formulation picks.

1. Potency and product efficacy

The first ingredient in many cosmetic products is often water. While water can provide consistency and format delivery flexibility, it often is used as “filler” to quite literally dilute the products it is in.  Limiting or removing water used in formulations can contribute to higher potency of beneficial ingredients and improved efficacy.

2. Water sensitivity and sustainability

With the boosted potency offered by waterless formulations, you need less per application which translates to less packaging used over time and more efficient product production. This can ultimately impact overall manufacturing carbon footprint and production efficiencies across the board. Couple that with the fact that over 1.1 billion people currently face limited access to fresh water. More mindful use of any water is an immediate global mandate.

3. Post-consumer waste reduction

Many companies are reacting to consumer demands to limit plastics use. In the West (particularly in the US, where single-use plastics consumption is high), many creative waterless solutions are gaining popularity with sustainability-conscious consumers by delivering formulations in bars or other formats. These are often presented in reusable or recyclable or compostable packaging like metal or bamboo tins, glass jars, or paper boxes versus using plastic packaging solutions.

4. Minimize the need for preservatives

Water can introduce bacteria into formulations requiring the addition of preservatives to maintain product freshness. Without water, you can reduce the need for preservatives while increasing concentrations of ingredients that actually boost efficacy.

5. Less drying

Water can often dry out skin and hair so, by going waterless, not only are products likely to be more effective, they can be less drying as well.

6. Compatability with natural and clean beauty trends

Naturals and clean beauty trends remain popular and waterless formulations often map to them, ticking multiple boxes for savvy consumers. Naturals with high oxidative stability, like Meadowfoam Seed Oil (which boasts twice the oxidative stability of jojoba oil), can play a key role here by effectively extending the shelf life of other natural and clean beauty ingredients.


Chemists in our Applications Lab have developed an extensive  Waterless Guide Formulation Library. It’s pretty beefy, so we’ll highlight some of our top waterless formulation picks below:

  • SUN CARE: our Clear Oil Sunscreen Stick is light, beautifully clear, and coral reef-safe. It resists melting and comes in an easy-to-apply stick format. Our Sun Shield Stick with Zinc Oxide provides long-lasting, easy-to-apply coverage, without leaving any white residue. Both are unusually oxidatively stable (key for warm weather applications) thanks to the inclusion of Meadowfoam Seed Oil.
  • CLEANSERS: A favorite in this class include the Melting Waterless Cleansing Oil Balm with a lovely lavender, citrus scent, and gentle, luxurious skin finish. This solid balm cleanser melts onto skin as you rub it in and, upon rinsing, forms a milky layer.
  • MOISTURIZERS: Top waterless moisturizer picks include our Clean Beauty Moisturizing Stick for portable, easy-to-apply moisturization. Also, our Well-Aging Booster Serum boasts 7 natural emollients promoting extended moisture retention, regenerative and restorative benefits, and skin texture improvement.
  • SHAMPOOS AND HAIR CARE: Our Zero-Waste Waterless Shampoo Bar epitomizes the promise of waterless formulations by eliminating the need for plastics packaging. Our Better Beard Butter offers JUST RIGHT texture for light styling and moisturization without being greasy or heavy.
  • LIP CARE: Our Oregon Mint Vegan Lip Balm is a perennial favorite and again, more oxidatively stable than many other lip balms thanks to the inclusion of Meadowfoam Seed Oil. Our Lip Scrub and Moisturizing Mask gently buffs away dry skin and conditions lips, just in time for the post-COVID, return of lipstick (yay!)
  • BODY: Our Fresh Start Moisturizing Body Scrub offers gentle exfoliation and non-greasy moisturization and our fast-absorbing Body Oil strikes just the right balance of moisturization and penetration without being greasy.

These formulations support the growing waterless trend and, as you can see, offer a wide range of applications and formats to support and inspire waterless formulation needs. Access more Waterless Guide Formulations as part of our complete Guide Formulation Library or request product samples of our natural emollients today.

For more on Waterless Beauty, you might also enjoy:

Waterless Beauty can help Save the Planet and your Skin (Vogue, UK, August 2020)

“Waterless” Beauty Is Shaping Up to Be a Huge Trend In 2021, and It’s Easy to See Why (Popsugar, March 2021)

Waterless Beauty Products May Just Be The Future Of The Industry (The Zoe Report, March 2021)

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