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Why you should try waterless beauty + 6 products we love

Crucial to the formulation if not application of a majority of beauty products, consideration of water waste is a new frontier for the beauty industry in its ongoing quest to minimise its environmental impact: enter waterless beauty products. 

Among bold eye makeup and sweeping feathered fringes, you might be surprised to learn that water consideration is near the top of the list when it comes to key beauty trends right now.

Globally, and largely as a result of climate change, water is well on its way to becoming a precious commodity as consumption outstrips supply. As this reality takes hold and we adapt our habits around water usage, so too beauty brands are adapting the way they manufacture and formulate products to limit their dependence on water.

Admittedly, waterless beauty products have been around for years. Consider bar soap — used for generations before falling out of favour, and now enjoying a renaissance as we recognise its many environmentally-friendly benefits, including its modern, botanically-led formulations and the minimal plastic and production waste it creates.

Happily, the variety of products and their uses continues to grow as brands innovate to find waterless and limited-water solutions.

What you need to consider when buying waterless products:

There are two key things to consider when it comes to beauty products and their reliance on water:

  • One of the most common ingredients in beauty product formulation, water is often used as a filler as it’s cheaply available. It can also help with texture and performance, making products nice to use and easier to spread.
  • Water consumption is often necessary to use each product — particularly relevant to shower and bath-related beauty items. A study by Watercare on water use in Auckland found that people typically use between 140 and 175 litres of water a day. The biggest portion of that (27%) was in the shower.

With these challenges in mind, it’s heartening to see brands recognising consumer demand for accountability, and addressing this by incorporating water usage targets into their sustainability plans, as well as innovating products that require less water to formulate, or in the process of using.

And the technologies are becoming more impressive. Effective anhydrous products (waterless beauty products) now take many forms, such as cleansing balms, moisturising oils, body butters, pressed serums and dry masks.

6 waterless beauty products to try

Solid beauty

Solid beauty bars are some of the most visible and popular anhydrous beauty products on the market. According to NZ-based beauty brand Ethique, a leader in the category, an average shampoo or body wash can be made of up to 80 per cent water. Conditioner is even higher at up to 95 per cent. Using solid bars to clean and condition your hair in the shower not only minimises water waste but cuts down on plastic, too. According to the brand, you will save at least three plastic bottles and 2750mls of water with one bar. There are also a number of good solid body moisturisers.

Powders

Similarly, powder cleansers and exfoliants that negate the use of water in formulation are taking off. Much lighter to package and ship, they have skin benefits, too. When mixed with water, some active ingredients can deteriorate over time; in powder form they retain their potency until activated. Additionally, they don’t require preservatives to ward off the bacteria that can thrive with water- based products. Tatcha’s popular Rice Polish Foaming Enzyme Powder, which is available in classic, deep, calming and gentle versions, contains Japanese rice bran as well as rice and papaya enzymes and, when activated with just a touch of water, lathers into a foam to gently exfoliate, polish and deep clean skin.

Oils

Not only are skin oils incredibly nourishing for the skin, containing essential fatty acids and lipids similar to those our skin makes naturally, they’re easier to formulate without using water. Go-To’s Face Hero uses 10 plant and nut oils for a well-tolerated. treatment that helps to balance oily skin, hydrate dry skin, and calm sensitive skin.

Dry shampoo

Showers use approximately 10 to 20 litres of water every minute. There are a few ways you can minimise waste. Install a showerhead with increased water efficiency, limit your showers to no more than four minutes, or try skipping every second hair wash and getting by with a dry shampoo. Using a lightweight, spray-in powder will enable you to increase the number of days in between washing your hair, meaning you’ll consume significantly less water. It also helps to extend the life of your hair colour. Joico’s Weekend Hair Dry Shampoo absorbs oil, sweat and odour from hair in just 30 seconds and gives hair a touch of stylish volume and texture — perfect for second or third day ’dos.

Bar soap

Ditch the bodywash and liquid hand soap and switch to a classic bar soap instead. New iterations are a far cry from the old-fashioned lump of lard, instead full of gentle hydrating botanical oils. Jo Malone’s satiny hand and body soap contains nourishing shea butter and leaves skin delicately scented with the famous fragrance house’s best-selling perfumes such as Red Roses and English Pear & Freesia.

Sticks

Enabling us to do our whole skincare and makeup routine in minutes without tools, stick beauty products use less water content than their liquid relatives, and are foolproof to swipe on and blend in with fingers. The arrival of buzzy NYC-based Milk Makeup into Sephora stores here boosts the options significantly, with the vegan and cruelty-free brand offering a wide stick-based selection, from foundation and blush to toner, masks and serum — including the Watermelon Brightening Serum that boosts hydration and evens skin tone.

Looking for more beauty picks? Try these quick, sheer foundations

The way ghd has changed its new styler makes it a must-have

ghd unplugged has transformed its famous straightener in the most useful of ways. 

Globally-respected hair styling brand ghd is prolific with its regular launch schedule. It means when we receive an embargoed press release it could be for a new styling product, or a limited edition colour-way as much as it is likely to be a game-changing new styler. 

But this time we’re in luck! ghd – short for good hair day – has a new tool and for those of us that straighten or curl our hair every day, it’s a pretty exciting new release!

Some background: 2021 marks 20 years since ghd changed what’s possible for hair texture transformation. Hard to believe they’ve been around that long, but the brand’s heated flat-plate styling tool quickly became a hair industry standard (and set the super-straight hair trend that is indelibly connected with the early 2000s!)  and has been equally popular with the rest of us since, given its speed and ease of use. 

Now greet ghd Unplugged – a compact-sized, cordless styler designed to make it easy to carry with you. 

It looks familiar enough in pictures, until you realise there’s no cord! Finally a ghd we can wander around with, and use near mirrors that don’t have electrical plug access!

We’re fond of the Dyson Corrale straightener for this reason. The straightening flat iron, launched last year, was the first to do away with the cord and it made us realise how useful it is to have the freedom to move. 

The ghd Unplugged offers up to 20 minutes of cordless styling time, which is a little less than the Corrale, at up to 30 minutes. 

But it was when the ghd Unplugged tool actually landed on our desk a few weeks ago ahead of its launch, and we had it in our hands, that we really took stock of it’s incredibly appealing feature. 

The thing is mini! They weren’t kidding about its compact size. It fits so comfortably in your hand, with a slightly wider base and slim – but still substantial – plates. It’s hard to describe its size, but the base fits across your palm and the plates extend a little over that width again. It has Hybrid Co-lithium technology for it’s batteries, which apparently means a long life.  

On styling my (admittedly fine) hair it worked just as quickly and efficiently as my usual Platinum styler. So much so I may never pick that one up again! On thicker hair it would take longer but the plates are not so small that it would be impossible, so it will be a great travel option for most. 

With a 45 second start up, the same even heat distribution across the plates and proven optimum safe-for-strands styling temp of 185 degrees means it has all the benefits of the previous ghd tools. 

It’s easily small enough to easily slide into an overnight bag or handbag. It comes with a snug zip up cover that’s heat proof, so even if it’s still warm, it’s easy enough to carry with you. 

It also comes with a USB-C charging cable which means it’s simple to charge on the go. 

ghd calls it ‘flight friendly’ and airport security safe, allowing you to carry the tool in both hold or hand luggage.

Available in Black and White, ghd unplugged retails for $510 and is available in salons and retailers now.