Originally Published: 

Why Water-Free Beauty Is the Next Frontier in Skin and Haircare

Photo by Orlando /Three Lions/Getty Images
We may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.

Water is an enormous part of the beauty industry—the first ingredient listed on most shampoos, conditioners, shower gels, toners, and creams is typically H20. But environmental concerns have made consumers more mindful of water waste and their ecological footprints. As a result, an emerging trend in the beauty space incorporates water-free products, known as anhydrous beauty, into daily skin and hair routines.

According to dermatologist Dr. Jenny Chiu, beauty products that contain water are breeding grounds for bacteria unless they are pumped up with preservatives. It also means that most active ingredients in those products are heavily diluted, rendering them less effective. “By removing water from a skincare formula, it means there is less use of preservatives. This also allows for a boost of concentration of the actives present in the formula, therefore making it more potent and allowing for greater hydration and improved skin texture and tone,” she explains.

And as far as sustainability goes, using anhydrous products cuts down on water and packaging waste. For example, one container of powdered shampoo is the equivalent of four bottles of a liquid formula. And by eliminating the emulsification process during manufacturing, most brands lower the product’s production energy waste by at least half.

Keep your hair and skin hydrated and happy while doing the planet good. Browse our 10 favorite water-free beauty products, here.

Wet hands to emulsify this biodegradable powder into a generous, foamy lather. Great for those with oily locks, this luxe hair treatment contains nettles, which is naturally rich in scopoletin—a compound that minimizes excess sebum and helps regulate its production—so that you can extend the time between your next wash day.

Using freeze-dried technology, Rael’s individually packed hyaluronic acid solid concentrates are composed of three weights of HA for longer-lasting and deeper penetration; plus, it isn’t diluted with unnecessary fillers or preservatives. Simply activate with a serum or essence to transform into a liquid that replenishes your skin.

One of the biggest challenges with retinol is maintaining potency, especially if you’re layering it with other active serums or creams, such as vitamin C or ceramides. The Opulus Beauty Labs System rectifies this conundrum. Its single-dose retinol treatment, called an opoule, consists of two layers: a hard anhydrous shell, which is enhanced with the aforementioned skin goodies; and a soft, waterless core, which contains the active retinol and stabilizing butters and oils. When placed in the Opulus activator device, the opoule is thermal-blended into a homogeneous warm cream, which allows for better skin absorption at peak potency.

Add a few drops of water to transform this purifying glacial clay and volcanic ash powder mix into a toning paste. Salicylic acid, lactic acid, and papaya enzyme slough away dead skin cells, while colloidal oatmeal and olive oil offer moisturizing benefits. Customize your exfoliation experience by adjusting the amount of H20 you add.

This botanical-rich concentrate is formulated with five essential oils—bergamot, orange, rosemary, clary sage, and peppermint—to get your hair thoroughly clean without stripping it of moisture.

Thanks to its concentrated, low-waste formulation, one bottle of powdered conditioner equals four traditional liquid-based versions. Aloe and marshmallow are the key softening ingredients in this plant-based version. Mix in a couple drops of your favorite hair oil for an extra dose of hydration.

Formulated with papaya and pineapple extracts and L-ascorbic acid, HoliFrog’s vitamin C-rich powder cleanser turns into a foamy lather that refines and brightens dull visages when combined with water. Use less liquid for a stronger exfoliant effect, more for a milder one.

This ultra-concentrated moisturizer nourishes and conditions your body with its abundance of organic actives and potent botanicals, including chia, apricot kernel oil, vitamin E, and shea butter.

Abhati’s bar shampoos boast various Ayurvedic properties to suit your hair needs. Manali is great for those with curly hair. It’s infused with cannabis-seed oil and spirulina to nourish dry textures. If flakes are an issue, try Kaveri; it contains sandalwood and salicylic acid for scalp soothing and light exfoliation. For those in search of a rejuvenating lift, Surya is your go-to, with its restorative ingredients of lemongrass and sage. Meanwhile, Nanda uses ginger root and argan oil to clarify and restore manageability to tresses.

Honey extract, shea butter, and vitamin E enrich dry skin and give an extra pop of luminosity with these sheer, blend-able complexion boosters.

This article was originally published on