How to Go Waterless in Your Beauty Routine

woman cleans face with reusable white cloth pad while wearing silky robe

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

Your daily beauty routine is no doubt awash in water. From cleaning your face to shampooing your hair, the tap flows freely. You typically wet your skin and hair before applying products and then use water to rinse them off. But it's not just the H20 flowing from your faucet that impacts your beauty regimen.

Most of the cleansers, shampoos, conditioners and moisturizers you use are likely packed with water too. Water (or aqua) is often the first item you'll see in the ingredients of your personal care products.

But the world is facing an ever-increasing water shortage. According to the World Health Organization, by 2025 half of the world's population will be living in water-stressed areas. So more environmentally minded consumers and companies are turning to waterless beauty products.

Cosmetics Business named "waterless beauty" as one of the top five trends to watch in 2019. And a beauty trends report by market research company Mintel called water "the new luxury."

"Water is set to become a precious commodity as consumption outstrips supply," Mintel predicts. "The more consumers become aware of this, the more beauty brands will need to change how they manufacture and formulate products to limit their dependence on water."

An overview of waterless beauty

washing hands in white porcelain sink with block tile and fern plant nearby

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

Like so many beauty trends, waterless products originated in Korea, reports Refinery29. They were created for the benefits they offered to skin, not necessarily for the environment.

Sometimes the change takes getting used to, as waterless textures and qualities are different. But there are advantages.

Water-based products, for example, can dry the skin.

"Culturally, we're fearful of dirt so we overuse detergent-based cleaners," Anna-Marie Solowij, cofounder of BeautyMart, tells Refinery29. "The skin has its own self-cleaning system of sebum and natural microbes that repel and neutralize environmental pathogens. Washing away this protective shield exposes skin so it's no wonder that there is a reported increase in diseases such as eczema."

Waterless beauty products

hand reaches for oil and gel-based cleansers in different bottles in bathroom

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

Here's a look at some waterless beauty, skincare and personal care items that are available.

Waterless shampoo

back of woman's head washing her hair with brown shampoo bar

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

At its most basic, waterless shampoo is a product you probably already know about: dry shampoo. Dry shampoos come as sprays, powders or foams that you mist or dust on your hair. They soak up the extra oil and residue. You just let it sit and then brush, comb and style as normal. Most popular dry shampoo brands are used in between regular shampooing to give hair body and keep it from looking oily and drab.

But there are also some actual waterless shampoos that are used like you would use real shampoos. OWA Haircare has a powdered shampoo that's activated by water in your shower. You can see how it works in the video above.

There are also shampoo bars that can be lathered up like bars of soap for the hair. In addition to being waterless, shampoo bars typically don't contain chemicals and additives found in traditional shampoos, according to Stylecaster.

Waterless wash and cleanser

hands squeeze clear gel cleanser from pump bottle into hands

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

From powders and foams to no-rinse gels, there are many products that let you clean your face and body without much or any water. There's a very elaborate routine in the video below, but most of us probably have much simpler cleansing habits.

Water is used as an inexpensive base, but when it's taken out of the formula, often oils and botanicals are used instead. That results in a more concentrated product. Other times, products are offered in powdered formats.

Waterless soap-like products include exfoliating powders and waterless gels, powdered and waterless facial cleansers and even body washes that don't have to be washed away.

Carrington Snyder, co-founder of body care brand Kayo, is starting a new powdered skincare brand called PWDR that will include a powdered, waterless exfoliating face wash.

"Consumers are becoming very educated, and I think they are becoming very conscious of not only what they are putting on their skin, but also their impact on the environment," Snyder tells Beauty Independent. "It's a huge trend that we are seeing that really can't be ignored."

Waterless makeup

flat lay of rosy hues of waterless makeup cream blushes and lipstick

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

It's easy to find waterless makeup. There are mineral foundations, powdered blushes and cream eyeliners. But look for an array of even more in-depth products that don't rely on water.

For example, there are reusable blush papers that can just be patted on the skin for a natural-looking glow. And at the end of the day, you can take off your face with one-step makeup removers that don't need to be rinsed off.