Out of this world! Kao’s space shampoo will start much needed ‘water-smart’ conversations

By Amanda Lim

- Last updated on GMT

Kao is preparing to send a waterless shampoo sheet to the International Space Station in 2022. [Kao Corp]
Kao is preparing to send a waterless shampoo sheet to the International Space Station in 2022. [Kao Corp]

Related tags: kao corp, waterless, Hair care, Shampoo

Kao Corporation is preparing to send a waterless shampoo sheet to the International Space Station in 2022, a move that is being predicted will give waterless beauty the exposure it needs to shift long-held water habits.

The Japanese personal care company announced that two of its waterless products, the 3D Space Shampoo Sheet and the 3D Space Laundry Sheet were selected by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to be used onboard the International Space Station (ISS) in 2022.

With water being a scarce resource in space, the sheets do not need to be used with water. They are made with a non-woven fabric imbued with cleansing formulas.

Speaking to CosmeticsDesign-Asia,​ Helga Hertsig-Lavocah, senior futurologist and founder of Hint Futurology, said Kao’s new developments further proved that the large multinational personal care manufacturers were ready for waterless beauty.

“P&G has made serious strides in this area with EC30 and Water L<ss. Henkel relaunched their original powder shampoo as a limited edition. I think the manufacturers are ready, it’s the consumers who aren't.”

She continued that a majority of the public still has a “long way to go” ​before we get to the mainstream adoption of waterless products.

“Washing with water is almost embedded in our cultural DNA and long hot showers are more part of a wellness routine than a hygiene routine,” ​said Hertsig-Lavocah.

Recently, celebrities like Jake Gyllenhaal, Mila Kunis, and Kristen Bell revealed that they do not take daily showers for environmental reasons. However, these disclosures did not go down very well with the public.

“Some Hollywood celebrities spoke about not showering every day, or only spot cleansing, which is brilliant for the planet – and maybe even for your skin. However, there was a lot of backlash. It’s tough to ask people to give up their shower time, which might be one of the few moments that they have for themselves,” ​said Hertsig-Lavocah.

She added that Kao’s waterless space products would give the waterless beauty movement significant exposure.

“The exposure that these products will get is phenomenal and we need that in order to shift people’s habits. The Space Laundry Sheet and 3D Space Shampoo Sheet will start conversations about how to be water-smart.”

New shampoo format

Kao’s 3D Space Shampoo Sheet features raised bumps that help to remove dirt and sebum from the scalp and roots of the hair while providing a massaging action. Additionally, the sheets would provide a refreshing, clean scent.

This invention was designed to fit with the zero-gravity space environment on the ISS, where astronauts have previously used a shampoo that contains a very small amount of water.

Typically, because of the weightless environment, astronauts had to be careful to ensure none of the droplets of shampoo floated into the air. This made hair washing particularly difficult and it was difficult to achieve the same “pleasant feeling” ​from washing your hair.

Kao said the expertise gained from deploying these products in space would help inform the company of more Earth-bound applications.

For instance, Kao hoped that these products would be useful during times of disaster, hospital stays, and in countries and regions experiencing water shortages.

It said it would continue to conduct research on ways to achieve sustainable washing and cleanliness without using water.

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