Waterless Beauty Products that Can Make Your Routine a Less Wasteful

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

We need to do more than just shut off the faucet while brushing our teeth. Consider that over two billion people are living in countries with water stress and that by 2030, 700 million people could be displaced by water shortages.

"We have to be aware of the times we're living in and the products we're using," says Linda Treska, the founder of Pinch of Colour, who grew up affected by water infrastructure issues in Albania. (About 10 percent of the proceeds from her makeup line is donated to provide clean water to communities in need.)

Now consider that, on average, a bottle of shampoo contains up to 80 percent water. That's a whole lot of water being shipped around the globe and sitting on store shelves and in our showers. "What sense does this make when you use products in your bathroom — a room filled with water?" says Brianne West, the founder of Ethique.

Brands like hers (Basin is another favorite) have reimagined shampoo as water- free bars; adding a few splashes at home creates suds. Ethique's water-free Wonderbar conditioner — equivalent to five bottles of liquid conditioner — also looks and feels like a bar of soap but nourishes hair with coconut oil.

"What would we take on a trip to the moon?" asks Kailey Bradt, the founder of water-free brand OWA. "That's how we think, and that's how we innovate." Her Moondust Hair Wash is a powder shampoo, the first of its kind — sprinkle it in wet hands, rub them together, and in a few seconds you've got a liquid shampoo.

Besides conserving water, powder formulas can also save on packaging waste. Ethique's bars come in boxes made of compostable paper. Loli's powder masks and scrubs come in reusable glass jars (the formulas also upcycle organic food: Loli Plum Elixir turned trash — a plum's kernel — into a hydrating oil). Less packaging means less fuel is required to ship these products, so waterless beauty has a positive impact across the entire supply chain — proof that using less can mean so much more.

Anything longer than a 90-second shower was out of the question for Cape Town locals in 2018, and that was if you had water at the time. During the Day Zero water crisis, Waterl hair care was introduced to South African women as a solution to stretch time between washes. The lineup includes dry shampoos for thick and fine hair, two fruity-floral hair fragrances that defrizz while they refresh, and a restyling mist that lets you heat-style hair without having to rewet it.

  • Dove Is Switching to 100-Percent Recycled Plastic Bottles
  • Brands Are Now Packaging Sheet Masks Like Face Wipes, Making Them Way More Sustainable
  • CVS Is Eliminating Oxybenzone and Octinoxate From Nearly 60 of Its Store-Brand Sunscreens

Now check out some ways to have an environmentally friendly beauty routine:

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