Do water-free cosmetics have an ecological water footprint?

Water: It is an increasingly discussed topic in cosmetics and rightly so. What are the advantages of water-free natural cosmetics? And do water-free natural cosmetics also consume water?

What has become a rare and contested commodity in various parts of the world is actively used every day in our latitudes: We drink it, shower with it, wash with it, or cook with it. Less obvious, however, is the hidden consumption of water: in the production of food, clothing or even cosmetics. Water is too often taken for granted, privatized, polluted and wasted. Its value is underestimated, even though it is a vital resource. This is also shown by the World Water Report 2021 of the United Nations.

All the more important that this topic has also increasingly found its way into the beauty industry in recent years. This in various forms and areas. One that we are highlighting here is the comeback of so-called "water-free cosmetics". While this is not a novelty (hello marigold ointments from grandma's kitchen), it has been gaining a lot of attention in recent times. And rightly so! Water-free natural cosmetics have many advantages for the skin, learn about the most important ones here. But is water-free cosmetics really better for the environment, i.e. what is their ecological water footprint?

Ökologischer Wasserfussabdruck in der Naturkosmetik

Do water-free cosmetics also consume water?

Water-free formulations have the advantage that they are very economical to use because they are highly concentrated. As a result, their use cycle is significantly longer than that of conventional products that contain water. The fact that longer cycles are good for the environment remains undisputed.

But even water-free cosmetics cannot do without an ecological water footprint. This starts 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 around 70% of the world's freshwater resources are used by agriculture. Of this, probably the largest part is used for food production.

It is also essential to take a close look at raw materials used in cosmetics and to know their origin as well as possible. In this way, one can decide for or against their use in a formulation. In my opinion, this is part of the homework and responsibility of every cosmetics company, even if it involves a lot of effort. But it is and remains complex to trace raw materials back to their origin. I have experienced this on my own body with unrefined shea butter and herbs, among others.

My personal conclusion

We should honor water, and do so consciously. So I like to use water when it is used as a solvent for hydrophilic ingredients, for example. Because certain ingredients from plants can only be dissolved with water.
Furthermore, I have a weakness for fragrant plant waters. Otherwise, I prefer to use water-free products for my skin care. But even there I need water (Zurich tap water) because it is important that water-free cosmetics are applied to moist skin. skin. Because the skin needs a mix of oil and moisture. Conclusion: I don't want to and can't do without water, but I try to be conscious in my use of it as far as possible.


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