Apologies if the following is a little dry. It’s supposed to be. Because it’s about waterless beauty. That’s the move by the personal care industry to drastically reduce the use of water – by both its products and its consumers.
Waterless has been tipped for some years as the next big eco-thing in beauty. In 2016, Mintel warned that water was “set to become a precious commodity”, meaning personal care brands would “need to change how they manufacture and formulate their products to limit their dependence on water”.
This sustainability message took a while to get through, probably having been drowned out by the voluminous outrage over suppliers’ addiction to plastic.
Now, with names of all sizes – from Unilever and Bulldog to BeCo and Skin Academy – having made significant progress in making their packaging greener, it looks as if waterless is finally receiving serious attention.
Beauty behemoth L’Oréal has committed to a 60% reduction in water consumption per finished product by 2020, while Unilever has pledged to develop “innovative products which deliver the benefits people need and provide the same performance with less water”.
And speaking of such NPD, P&G is poised for a US launch of its haircare brand literally called Waterless – originally developed for Cape Town in expectation of a day when the South African city is forced to ration its depleted water supply. Designed with all hair types in mind, Waterless includes dry shampoos, dry conditioners, hair balm and curling cream.
It makes darn good sense, given Mintel expects 1.8 billion people to experience “absolute water scarcity” by 2025, with two-thirds of the planet “living under water-stressed conditions”.
And it’s commercially savvy, too. Eco-friendly moves will “influence sales positively as consumers move towards brands who are more transparent with their day-to-day activities and what they’re doing to be more sustainable” Man Cave marketing manager Daniel Durose told The Grocer last summer.
On the face of it, then, waterless is a winning beauty trend for brands, shoppers and the planet. And given the enthusiasm with which the industry has made eco-friendly strides so far, we ought to expect a deluge of aqua-conserving activity over the coming year(s).
He joined the magazine in January 2016 as food & drink editor, having been at financial & legal publisher LexisNexis for eight years.
He began his journalism career in the mid-1990s at a general interest magazine in Sheffield.
Follow Daniel on Twitter: @danielmcselwood