What is waterless beauty?

19 July, 2023 / words by IALH Editorial Team

Written by Kelle Salle

Image via Pinterest

If you love skincare as much as I do, then you might find yourself taking an avid interest in how the products you use are made. Attitudes towards beauty have changed significantly in recent years, mostly because we’ve had a lot more time to learn about ingredients, formulations, best regimes etc. Something else that has become important to consumers is sustainability.

A report from Provenance found that the majority of UK consumers (91%) find sustainability and ethics important when choosing a product while most (83%) think the industry should be more transparent about the impact of products. As a result, there is a demand for sustainable beauty products. If you want to make environmentally friendly skincare choices, then you might consider using waterless beauty products.

Before we do a deep dive into what waterless beauty is, did you know that unless water use is drastically reduced, severe water shortage will affect the entire planet by 2040? That’s definitely one reason to consider making a switch! We’ve sought the expertise of Eve Casha, Scientific Officer at dermoi and Nina Prisk of Update Aesthetics to tell us everything we need to know about waterless beauty. 

What is waterless beauty?

Waterless beauty products are products that don’t contain water. Instead of a water-based formulation, they are formulated with active ingredients or botanical oils.

What are the origins of waterless beauty?

The trend is believed to have originated from South Korea and was based around the idea of making skincare more potent so that it’s more effective on the skin. Waterless beauty is believed to be kinder to the environment, which explains why it’s really popular at the moment.

How are waterless beauty products made?

Some people may not know that water is used in the majority of cosmetic products (shampoo, conditioner, cleanser, perfume). It is usually present in ⅔ of the product. Most times, water is used as a filler in formulas. Waterless formulas don’t include any preservatives, which increase the potency of the product. Instead of water, alternatives such as oils, plant extracts and waxes are used during the formulation process.

Are waterless beauty products more sustainable?

Yes, because using less water will reduce a product’s carbon footprint. Waterless beauty products also tend to be smaller and lighter, which can have a positive impact on carbon footprint as they’ll be easier to transport. Water is used to grow raw materials as well as to distil machinery during the cooling and heating process, so while waterless products can help reduce water consumption, they shouldn’t be seen as the only solution to the water shortage problem.

Is there anything someone should consider when incorporating waterless beauty products into their skincare routine?

Whilst waterless beauty is becoming a fast-growing trend, it’s worth keeping in mind that waterless beauty products can be expensive due to the concentrated nature of the product. On a positive note, water can be a breeding ground for germs, so waterless beauty products might have an extended shelf-life so you can use them for longer, but always check the packaging to be sure.

Here’s our selection of waterless beauty products:


Radiance Renewal 10% Stabilised Vitamin C Serum

Shop the serum ↗

This waterless serum contains 10% stabilised Vitamin C as well as Vitamins A and C-rich Sea Buckthorn. It works to stimulate collagen, enhance radiance and helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while evening the skin tone and hydrating the complexion. The serum also contains a pine extract that acts as a base and it’s also clinically proven to help reduce sebum production by up to 70%, making it a great choice for anyone with oily/combination skin.

Formulae Prescott


Shop the balm ↗

If you’re looking for an environmentally friendly skincare product, then Formulae’s Tri-Balm Stick is one to consider. It’s a 3 in 1 balm that aims to simplify your beauty routine by cleansing, exfoliating and moisturising in one step. Not only is it waterless but it doesn’t contain any parabens, chemicals or artificial fragrances. Suitable for all skin types, it has been designed to be time-saving, portable and spill-proof, making it perfect for those who lead busy lifestyles.

Kat Burki

Rose Hip Recovery Eye Serum 

Shop the eye serum ↗

This lightweight, hydrating eye serum is packed with antioxidants, rosehip oil and a stable form of Vitamin C (Stay C). It lifts, firms and brightens the entire eye area. With a fast-absorbing formula that also contains 1% of retinol for maximum impact, all of the ingredients work together to visibly reduce puffiness, dark circles and uneven skin tone.


Hydration Serum

Shop the serum ↗

Described by the brand as a ‘hydration hero’, this silky-smooth serum contains chai seed oil, rosehip oil, glycogens and probiotics which all work together to nourish dry, dehydrated and tired skin, leaving it with a gorgeously radiant glow. The founder of the brand always suffered from sensitive skin and was looking to simplify skincare for those with similar issues, hence why the formula is free of retinoids and fragrances. If your skin is in need of a moisture boost, this serum would be a welcome addition to your routine.

Conserving Beauty

Conserve You Face Oil

Shop the face oil ↗

This non-greasy facial oil from Conserving Beauty protects and soothes skin. Lightweight in texture, it sinks into skin seamlessly to calm redness, shield skin from external damage and even out skin texture. Formulated with a luxurious blend of oils such as hemp seed oil, blue tansy, bisabolol and cacay, the oil nourishes and moisturises skin, leaving it with a radiant glow. A bonus is that it protects skin against blue light and environmental stressors, so if you’re looking for a product that will protect your skin all day long, you might want to give it a try.


IALH Editorial Team


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