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Water free formulas can help tackle sustainability issues

The global trend for waterless cosmetics has reached Brazil, but its rise requires consumer awareness.

Maria Coronado Robles, senior consultant at Euromonitor International

Maria Coronado Robles, senior consultant at Euromonitor International

A staple in several steps inherent to cosmetics production, water has recently been at the center of new sustainable strategies being rolled out in Asia. Multinational companies and local manufacturers alike have been investigating the use of new technologies focused on rational water use in their products and operations. That is the case for Taiwanese hair care company O’Right and Indian cosmetic manufacturer Azafran Innovacion, which has been investing in the use of plant-based and biodegradable ingredients.

One of the initiatives introduced by Asian companies is the reduction or complete exclusion of water from formulas for beauty and personal care products, such as facial masks and dry shampoos. On the other side of the spectrum are cosmetics that aim to help consumers reduce water use, including makeup remover pads, antiperspirant stickers, wet wipes and products that require little rinsing or no rinsing at all, such as cleansing milks.

In traditional cosmetic product formulations, water is used to react with other ingredients, such as emulsifiers, thickening agents, rheology modifiers, emollients and preservatives. Euromonitor International senior consultant, Maria Coronado Robles, says water accounts, on average, for 46% of beauty and personal care product formulations. “Hair care and shower products together account for around 70% of the total water added to cosmetic products.

A study published by international consulting firm Mintel in 2015 showed that one of the four main beauty trends that will affect global markets by 2025 is the reduction of water consumption in product manufacturing.

Amarjit Sahota, presidente e fundador da Ecovia Intelligence

Amarjit Sahota, presidente e fundador da Ecovia Intelligence

The movement observed in Asian markets has likewise gained traction in other countries, including Brazil, as revealed byEcovia Intelligence, an international firm specializing in market research, consulting and training programs in the field of natural and organic consumer goods. Amarjit Sahota, founder and CEO at Ecovia Intelligence, highlights the operations of Brazilian company Batiste, a dry shampoo manufacturer whose products have drawn increasing consumer interest. “This trend was partially sparked by the drought Brazil experienced a few years ago, when beauty salons had to resort to dry shampoos because of limited water supplies,” he says.

Robles explains that the so-called “dry cosmetics” are still regarded as emergency products, to be used in between washes rather than as alternatives to traditional products. She says in this particular industry, consumers often perceive foam as an indication of cleaning action – and this requires the use of larger volumes of water. “Anionic surfactants with high foaming activity account for 90% of the global beauty and personal care market in volume. They are predominantly found in hair care and bath products.

Sahota points out that consumer awareness regarding sustainable water use practices is one of the main challenges currently faced by beauty companies in trying to develop water-free formulas. “Companies need to explain exactly what they mean by ‘water free’, to make sure consumer confidence remains unaltered,” he says. One consumer-focused example of raising awareness about water preservation comes from German company All Natural Cosmetics, which manufactures soaps whose packaging reads “save water while using me.” Another example is by Colgate-Palmolive, one of the main manufacturers of oral care products worldwide, which similarly developed a campaign to encourage users to save water while brushing their teeth.

Sahota says a general trend is currently observable in the cosmetics industry regarding the amount of water used in all the steps of its manufacturing chain, including the cleaning of equipment and facilities. Sahota says companies such as P&G, Natura, Unilever and L’Oréal have already implemented water management programs in their operations.

Amanda Veloso

© 2018 - Brazil Beauty News -

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