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Water crisis in the southeast of Brazil is affecting the beauty industry and services sector

Cosmetic plants and hair salons are investing in alternative ways to save water while “water smart” products are winning space among customers.

Tatiana D'Alessio Sombra, marketing manager of Batiste

Tatiana D’Alessio Sombra, marketing manager of Batiste

The states of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais are facing the worst water crisis seen in the last 84 years, according to the Brazilian Environment Ministry. The volume of water in the main reservoirs in the southeast region has reached alarming levels and the threat of drastic rationing is hovering over all sectors, including the beauty industry.

Water is the most widely used raw material in cosmetics manufacturing. It is not only a solvent for a number of components but also an important part of the makeup of most products. An eau the cologne contains 15% to 40% of water; shampoos have 35% to 70%; and moisturizing cream formulations can consist of up to 75% of water. However, this is only a small part of the industry’s consumption. The main spending goes on procedures for sterilizing equipment and utensils to ensure the quality of the final product.

Saving water is essential and urgent. Companies located in the cities that have been most affected by the lack of water are pursuing ways of reducing consumption. Embelleze, which manufacturers some of the most popular hair care brands in Brazil, has invested in storing and reusing water and is considering setting up an artesian well at its plant in Rio de Janeiro. Avon has made its operations more efficient by increasing the reuse of water and studying the possibility of expanding outsourcing to other states. L’Oréal, which had already created a campaign against water waste, has successfully reduced consumption in its industrial plants in Rio and Sao Paulo by more than 40% compared with 10 years ago. The aim is to achieve a cut of at least 60% by 2020.

The services sector has also been trying to find a way around the water shortage. Hairdressers are recommending that male clients have dry cuts and are asking female clients to washing their hair prior to the appointment. New solutions have arisen in the salons, such as squirting water on the hair to make it wet and scheduling chemical procedures for the morning, when there is a lower risk of running out of water.

Water-saving measures are already being adopted by beauty professionals – water used for washing hair is being re-used to clean color brushes and pots; a device installed in the basin faucets can reduce water flow by 50%; and clients having a pedicure no longer use a foot basin, but emollient and disposable products that do the job.

The Brazilian population is the end point of this chain. Consumers are pinning their hopes on “water smart” cosmetics that dispense with the need for the precious liquid in order to look after their appearance and save water at the same time. Wet wipes can be used to remove make-up, refresh and moisturize the skin. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers kill 99.9% of bacteria and dry instantly as a replacement for the old-fashioned hand wash.

But the current favorite product is the dry shampoo. According to Tatiana D’Alessio Sombra, marketing manager of the Batiste brand, the product can be used on all hair types and should be applied to the roots whenever necessary to prevent oily hair, leaving it looking healthy and clean.

Manufactured by U.S. company Church & Dwight, Batiste was launched in Brazil in 2013. “We saw that the dry shampoo category was not well developed here and we could take advantage of this niche by creating a new habit among consumers,” says Sombra. The water shortage ended up having a positive impact in the company’s performance. “In less than two years, Brazil already represents 15% of Batiste sales and we are expecting to double our revenues,” she says.

Renata Martins


© 2015 - Brazil Beauty News -

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