Waterless beauty is the sustainable future consumers desire

white bowl full of pink tablets
Haeckels
Nov 19, 2021 By WGSN Insider

As we all become more climate aware, we realised that the planet’s resources are finite. The world's supply of fresh water is running out, with the UN predicting that by 2025, two-thirds of the planet's population will be living in water-stressed conditions.

Population growth, accelerated consumption and economic development are increasing global demand for water by 1% YoY. The average person in the Western world consumes 140 litres a day and with the global population predicted to reach 10.2bn by 2050, demand is set to outpace supply.

WGSN social media data graph
WGSN social media data

The water crisis will pose a number of problems for beauty brands in both their manufacturing processes and for consumers using their products. Rising awareness of water quality and scarcity is inspiring consumers to demand products that use less water to make and use, while transparent supply chains will need to demonstrate that water supplies are treated with respect throughout production. 

Business strategies

  • Dry or solid products that are activated by water represent the future of waterless beauty, with Mintel stating that 13% of UK consumers and 15% of French consumers are already  interested in dry-use soap, bath and shower products.
  • As well as reducing water use, BYOW (bring your own water) formats are safer and more effective than traditional water-based products, where water is used as an inexpensive filler – leading to the reduced effectiveness of active ingredients and the need to use more product overall,  generating waste.
  • Removing water from a product also gives it a longer shelf life, thanks to the lack of free water where bacteria can grow, appealing to the value-driven sustainable consumer. What’s more, removing water drastically reduces the weight, volume and packaging of a product, lowering carbon emissions throughout its lifecycle.

bowl and glass tub of salts/wooden brush scrubbing soap bar


Polina Kovaleva/Sarah Chai

WGSN subscribers can see the full white paper, Create Better, here or catch up on our latest Food & Drink insight.

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