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Best waterless beauty products for an eco-friendly routine

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f you want to embrace a more planet-conscious beauty routine, waterless beauty products are a no-brainer.

Unlike heavy liquid formulations, they don’t require as much fuel to transport them, resulting in a lower carbon footprint. They also don’t require the plastic packaging of their liquid counterparts to prevent leakages – which is probably the biggest plus point, given the beauty industry produces upwards of 120 billion plastic units per year. And as an extra bonus, there’s no restrictions when taking waterless products on the plane.

As well as being better for the environment, waterless products have quite a few beauty benefits too. “Waterless products contain a higher concentration of active ingredients,” notes Anna Brightman, co-founder of UpCircle. “The absence of water also means that preservatives aren’t required, making waterless beauty a great option for those with sensitive skin.”

A recent report by The British Beauty Council reported that 48 per cent of beauty shoppers are looking for more information and clarity about brands’ values and commitments to the environment, while 61 per cent struggle to tell if hair and skincare products are ethical from the packaging.

If a product is waterless, you instantly know it’s better for the planet, rather than having to rely on convoluted marketing claims and “eco-promises” from brands. The proof is in the powder. (Or bar, or tablet etc.)

While solid bar products and soaps have become popular in recent years, newer waterless formats are coming to the fore, in the form of powders and tablets designed to be mixed with water. And it’s not just niche brands, even the luxury ‘big names’ are getting on board.

If you’re looking add some waterless beauty to your regime, here are the key products to try.

Only Curls Curl Cleansing Shampoo Bar

Only Curls

Many shampoo bars are marketed towards fine, shorter hair types, leaving us thicker, curlier hair types out in the cold.

Not so with this version from Only Curls, a brand set up to cater for all manner of curls, waves and coils. Free from drying sulphates (considered Kryptonite for us curly girls, prone to dryness and frizz), its hydrating formula contains avocado and Kukui nut oils. Plus, for a waterless beauty product, it lathers up a treat – not requiring as much elbow grease as other shampoo bars, with a delectable coconut scent to boot.

Our curls were left soft and clean with minimal frizz and flyaways. As an extra bonus, the brand is based in the UK, independent and female-founded – what’s not to like?

Chanel N°1 Red Camellia Powder-To-Foam Cleanser

Chanel

You know waterless beauty is a thing when the likes of Chanel get on board.

This powder cleanser forms part of their new No.1 de Chanel collection, designed with sustainability in mind; they teamed up with Finnish material innovation startup Sulapac on the eco-friendly packaging, which included bio-based materials such as upcycled camellia seed shells and FSC-certified wood chips.

Containing red camellia extract which is rich in nourishing antioxidants, it has a delicate floral scent. And after mixing with water, it creates a rich lather that sweeps away most makeup and dirt – without leaving skin stripped and parched in the process.

Tropic Skincare Clear Skies Cleansing Powder

Tropic Skincare

Powder cleansers are becoming big beauty news on the waterless beauty scene and for good reason.

Containing fewer harsh preservatives, they’re less likely to sting your eyes or strip your skin, and Tropic’s version is case in point. Just sprinkle some powder in the palm of your hand, add a few drops of water and mix together to get a creamy foam. This is a great cleanser for oily, blemish prone skin, lifting away excess oil, grime and gunk while encapsulated plant enzymes and blue spirulina deeply cleanse and refine pores. Everything is made in Britain too, for an extra carbon-friendly bonus. Perfect to use as your everyday cleanser or at certain times of the month when your skin is particularly oily.

Forgo Hand Wash

Forgo

With the amount of hand washing we’ve been doing over the last two years, more and more plastic liquid soap dispensers are being thrown away, adding to our plastic waste problem. This is why waterless beauty versions couldn’t be more welcome.

While some of us are reaching for the good old fashioned bar of soap, these can become messy and unappealing to look at, as they become caked and misshapen over time. (Also if someone in the house has an infectious bug it might be a good idea not to share them, as they can allegedly harbour bacteria.)

If hand soap dispensers are more your thing, Swedish brand Forgo have come up with a chic powder version. Simpy mix the powder with water from a hot tap, and watch it transform it into a gentle foaming hand wash.

Made with less than 10 ingredients, the formula is 99 per cent natural, with sophisticated scents derived from upcycled timber and citrus pulp. It’s pricier than your average bar of soap, but once you’ve bought the handmade blown glass bottle, you only need to buy the (relatively) cheaper refills. For some sink-side chic, it doesn’t get much better.

Keys Soulcare Be Luminous Exfoliator

Keys Soulcare

People can be snobbish about celebrity beauty lines, but Alicia Keys’s bodycare and skincare range definitely lives up to the hype. The range was developed by a dermatologist, and each product is designed to be applied mindfully and purposefully, inspired by ancient beauty rituals with ingredients like malachite, Manuka honey, and Hojicha powder.

The latter stars in this waterless beauty body scrub, along with lactic acid to exfoliate skin at a deeper level. Rub on a little of this exfoliating powder in the shower, and it will transform into a foam to gently buff away dry patches of skin. With its dreamy scent of oat and sage, this is definitely one to add to your #SelfcareSunday ritual.

UpCircle Face and Body Soap Bar

UpCircle

While natural ingredients might automatically seem sustainable, they can contribute to deforestation (note the current issue with palm oil), depletion of natural resources and loss of wildlife because of the aggressive farming required to produce them.

That’s why upcycled naturals are a better alternative – using waste products from other industries that would otherwise be discarded. UpCircle do just that – this exfoliating face and body bar uses repurposed chai tea spices, together with hydrating shea butter to nourish the skin as it cleanses. Plus, as well ticking the waterless beauty box, everything is Soil Association certified organic, vegan and palm-oil free.

MONO Moisturiser Tablet

MONO

Waterless beauty tablets designed to mix with water are a less messy alternative to powders, which is why they’re gaining such cult status.

MONO is a tablet-based skincare line, born from founder Laurie Mais’s experiences growing up in her family’s perfume retail business and witnessing a colossal amount of single-use packaging being thrown away.

MONO offers a comprehensive skincare collection, all in tablet form – from serums to moisturiser, so that in Mais’s words “we stop shipping water around the world when we have it from the tap, and reduce carbon footprints.” This lightweight moisturiser is mixed with drinking water and has a runnier consistency than what you might be used to, but works just as well. It contains probiotics, including the brand’s star ingredient – Biolin P, which repairs and strengthens the skin barrier, while Beta-Glucan works to reduce redness and inflammation.

LUSH Shampoo Bar

LUSH

LUSH were among the first to pioneer waterless beauty in the form of solid shampoo way back in 1988 – they now sell them ‘naked’ in store to reduce plastic packaging. This newer iteration is perfect for fine, oily hair (sadly, thicker hair types might need more of a lather).

It contains clove bud oil to stimulate follicles and enhance healthy hair growth, while nettle and peppermint combats any scalp irritation and leaves hair feeling refreshed, with a fluffy ‘French girl’ texture once dried. The formula is completely vegan and cruelty-free, while giving you roughly 60-90 washes per bar, it’s economical as well as great for the environment.

Amaku Tooth Tablets

Amaku

No matter how into beauty you are, one thing is universal. Everyone uses toothpaste. However tubes usually made from different types of plastics, so a waterless beauty version with zero plastic packaging is very much needed. Amaku tablets are designed to be crushed between your teeth and are then activated with a wet toothbrush to make a ‘paste’. Instead of fluoride, they contain natural minerals and nano-hydroxyapatite, which works to both strengthen and whiten tooth enamel. While this initially felt strange, we found them very easy to use, while the citrus, anise and peppermint oil kept our mouth feeling fresh. Founder Vanessa Lawrence created the range after researching the effectiveness of tooth powders and discovering they are superior at dealing with plaque and gingivitis than traditional toothpastes. So you’ll be doing your mouth a favour, as well as the environment.

£12.50 for a one-month supply.

KIND2 The Two in One – Solid Shampoo Bar

Kind2

Great for gym bunnies, swap out your usual 2-in-1 shampoo for this waterless beauty version, which can be used everyday and fits easily into any kit bag. It also multi-tasks as a beard and body wash – good news for the boys.

Boasting a woody, citrus scent, this cleansing bar contains conditioning chia seed, repurposed hemp seed and hydrating macadamia oils it’s perfect for anyone with short to shoulder-length fine hair, but thicker, longer hair types might need more of a moisture hit.

Probably the first 2-in-1 shampoo bar of its kind, it’s free from drying sulphates (a common cleansing agent used in regular shampoo), plus the brand plant a tree for every new order too.

Verdict

We have to take our hat off to Only Curls Curl Cleansing Shampoo Bar for making waterless beauty not just budget-friendly but inclusive too – being suitable for natural, curly hair types which the beauty industry isn’t usually known to cater for. It managed to create enough of a lather to cover waist-length curly hair, while the scent was heaven-sent. Top marks.

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