Water in your cosmetics – what it means

It is an increasingly discussed topic and rightly so: water. Already in 1986 the later UN Secretary General Boutros-Ghali said «The wars of the 21st century are not fought over oil, but over water».

What in other parts of the world has become a rare and contested commodity, is in our latitudes daily and actively used: we drink it, shower, wash or cook with it. Less obvious, however, is the hidden consumption of water: in the production of our food, clothes or cosmetics.

No wonder that this topic is also becoming increasingly important in the beauty industry. So-called anhydrous cosmetics have been gaining more and more attention lately. Even though water is still the main ingredient in many cosmetic products (you can tell when “Aqua” is at the top of the list of ingredients, as these are always listed according to their proportions), dialogue is still very important and makes us think.

I would like to share with you our thoughts and philosophy about this. Let’s go!

3 reasons why we avoid water

Firstly, our formulations are much purer and more potent as they contain neither emulsifiers, preservatives nor fillers (including water).

Secondly, they are highly concentrated and therefore very productive in application. This has the advantage that the entire life cycle of the product is significantly longer, which in turn saves resources.

The third reason is that when using the products, you can adjust the amount of moisture and fat individually to the needs of your skin.

photo by Amanda Kirsh on burst
photo by Matthew Henry on burst

Ecological water footprint

As already mentioned, anhydrous formulations have the advantage of being very extensive in application and therefore their life cycle is longer. The fact that longer cycles are good for the environment remains undisputed.

But even water-free cosmetics have an ecological water footprint. This begins with the cultivation, harvesting and processing of the raw materials. It is precisely there that water consumption is most massive in comparison to transport, packaging and the like. Experts estimate that 70% of the water consumed worldwide is used by agriculture. Therefore it is very important to know the origin of the raw materials and to decide for or against their use in the formulation. In my opinion, this is part of the task and responsibility of Kosmetik Brands, even if it involves a lot of effort.

Let me show you a practical example:

Our main raw material is shea butter. Shea butter is obtained from the kernels of the shea tree. This tree grows in the dry Sahel zone, in our case in northern Ghana. As the trees grow wild, they are adapted to the natural conditions and get by with very little water. The processing to vegetable butter is done in the traditional way, mostly during the rainy season. Water is used, but very gently, since everything is done by hand and the women in the cooperatives are very aware of the water shortage. Our partner has also developed a system to recycle the by-products into fuel. This fuel is then used for production instead of wood. In this way a nice cycle of use is created. However, this must be checked regularly.

If you take a look at the overall life cycle assessment of a product, it becomes apparent that approx. 90% of the environmental impact is caused by the production of raw materials and the packaging accounts for approx. 1%. Where there is discussion about packaging, we have long wished for an increased focus on the procurement of raw materials. (Source WWF)

As you can see, a whole big world is opening up on this subject.

My conclusion

We’re supposed to honor water, and we should do it deliberately. So I like to use it when it is used as a solvent for hydrophilic ingredients. Certain components from plants can only be dissolved with water. Furthermore I have a weakness for other forms of water – for plant water. Otherwise I only use pure fats and oils for my skin care. But even there I need water (Zurich tap water) because it is important that they are applied to moist skin. Because the skin needs a mix of oil and moisture. The oil then beautifully encloses the moisture. So in my case, the Universal Beauty Balm FAITH locks the water from my tap. And my skin is doing so well!

photo by Matthew Henry on burst

Find out more about anhydrous cosmetics in the article by Beauty Independent Germany where we also provide information on the subject.

Headerimage hand and water by Brodie Vissers on burst.

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