While waterless beauty products are not the silver bullet to all our sustainable problems, they do have some merit.
For instance, anhydrous products often require minimal packaging and are more carbon-friendly to transport.
They are also appealing to consumers as they can easily be formulated to be 100% natural without the need for other ingredients or preservatives.
Some are touted as being more economical because you may not need to use as much each time, given their concentrated nature.
These are just some of the reasons that helped the waterless beauty trend take off.
However, many brands struggle to get consumer to adopt to these products as many of them require a fundamental shift in habits.
“We’ve become very spoilt, but once you open the door to convenience, it’s very difficult to go back,” said Helga Hertsig-Lavocah, senior futurologist, Hint Futurology.
Speaking to CosmeticsDesign-Asia, she detailed her personal experience with shampoo and conditioner bars, describing it as a “laborious process”.
“It’s not as easy as squirting it on your head and lathering. I think it’s about ease of use at the end.”
While consumers might try waterless products, she questions whether the average consumer would repurchase it again for the sake of sustainability.
Instead of emphasising the sustainable positioning of anhydrous products, Hertsig-Lavocah suggested that brands could appeal to more consumers by focusing on wellness and self-care.
“If you could take a shampoo bar and say this is the ritual of how you do it, it would make the inconvenience less of a problem. Instead of standing under the shower trying to get it to lather, could you massage it into your hair before you step in and instil some mindfulness in there.
“We live in a touch-deprived society. You could use touch as a way to really emphasise using the product. The mindfulness of feeling a body lotion bar between your fingers, the pleasure of that texture, that sensoriality.”
By doing so, it shifts the focus from being solely about responsible consumption to being an enjoyable and exciting choice.
She added that cosmetic companies can lose sight of the beauty consumers’ end goal, which is to simply have fun. Associating the use of waterless beauty products with an element of enjoyment can effectively bridge the gap between sustainability and consumer adoption.
This would require a lot of consumer education and encouraged the larger beauty conglomerates to lead the way on this.
Paraphrasing Norman Crowley, chairman and founder of CoolPlanet, Hertsig-Lavocah emphasised that sustainability should be a side effect of great product design.
“You might buy it once for sustainability, but will you buy it again if you haven’t had enough fun? Sustainability feels like a punishment at the moment and consumers shouldn’t have to sacrifice things. Do it because your body needs it, not because the planet needs it.”