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Waterless Skin Care for Saving Both Your Skin and the Planet

Waterless Skin Care

Did you know that only 3% of the world’s water is freshwater? And that over 1.1 billion people in the world don’t have access to it?

Yet, water is usually the FIRST ingredient on the back of any beauty product label, which indicates that YOUR FAVORITE SKINCARE PRODUCTS are composed of up to 95% water.

This also means ONLY 5% contain the active ingredients that are actually good for you—shocking, right?

ENTER waterless beauty! A Korean beauty trend that’s quickly gaining traction among consumers and beauty editors for its water conservation efforts and skin-pampering benefits. Let’s tell you more about its cool innovations here!

Table of Contents

What is Waterless Skincare?

What is It?

Waterless beauty products are exactly what they claim to be: Water-free.

Instead of relying on water as the main filler ingredient, waterless beauty products USE essential oils, plant extracts, and other active ingredients as the base. Brands typically produce these in 2 forms:

  • Concentrated gels and serums
  • Solid or powdered cosmetics

Waterless Gels

Waterless gels and serums still maintain a liquid texture and consistency, so YOU WON’T even know they’re water-free without reading the ingredients list.

However, because they’re chock-full of active ingredients, they’re a lot more concentrated too.

These are awesome if you’re looking for products that intensely hydrate and nourish your skin! In fact, when applying a water-free moisturizer or body lotion, you’ll notice that a little goes a long way.

They would still help give you that vibrant look as if you were doing a Korean glass skin routine!

Powdered Cosmetics

Now, you may be wondering how to use solid or powdered cosmetics/beauty products. If you’ve ever seen ads for waterless shampoo or conditioner, those products fall under this category.

These waterless formulas are a little different because THEY REQUIRE some liquid to lather up. All you have to do is mix the powder with some water right BEFORE you plan to use it.

You might think this defeats the purpose of a “waterless” product, but the great thing about this formula is that you can control your water usage!

Yes, that means total water consumption in the beauty industry still goes down!

Plus, since the product isn’t pre-mixed with water (which is a breeding ground for bacteria), it won’t contain the harmful preservatives needed to prevent microbial growth and extend shelf life.

Waterless Skin Care Products vs. Regular Beauty Products

Waterless vs Regular

Composition and Potency

If you take a look at the ingredients list of any random skincare product and find water or “aqua” on top, this means 2 things:

  • The active ingredients (oils, botanical extracts, etc.) are diluted.
  • More chemical preservatives are required to keep it bacteria-free.

YIKES! That doesn’t sound too good for your skin, right?

Tina Hedges, the founder of the waterless brand Loli Beauty, even says that ALMOST EVERYTHING in the market contains 80-95% water (more for shampoos, conditioners, gels, and toners!)

You’re paying for a product that’s essentially just water, so you’re not really getting a good deal, price-wise.

Plant-based Ingredients

Now, don’t be fooled by ingredients like cucumber water, coconut water, or rose water either. Water that’s been slightly infused or scented is still just water!

With waterless beauty products, though, you can be sure of the following BENEFITS:

  • Fewer chemicals (if any at all) are in waterless products and waterless formulas.
  • A higher percentage of active ingredients means more potent (and effective) products.
  • You get simpler, cleaner, and more natural cosmetics!

Now THAT sounds much better!

Look for Oils

Water-free products typically use high concentrations of nourishing and natural ingredients such as avocado oil, almond oil, aloe vera, and other botanical extracts—all great stuff for your skin!!

The only drawback with oils is they can go bad after some time, but the addition of an antioxidant such as Vitamin E should solve this problem.

Compared to the preservatives present in water-based products, this natural ingredient is a definite improvement.

Health Benefits

Another reason why you should switch to waterless skincare is that it’s a LOT better for your skin and for your health.

Did you know water-based products actually dry out your skin?

Yup, you heard that right — these skincare products STRIP THE SKIN’S NATURAL OILS produced by your body, so you can wave goodbye to dewy, glowing honey skin.

How Exactly Does Water-Free Skincare Work?

Well, the natural oils in these products easily permeate the layers of your skin, allowing all the nutrients and antioxidants to do their work.

These also help LOCK IN much-needed moisture, giving you the bright and healthy complexion you desire.

Best of all, because these water-free products are non-toxic and paraben-free, you’re not exposing your body to any harsh chemicals!

Some consumers don’t realize it, but these can cause irritation, breakouts, and even more serious issues like immune system disorders and reproductive problems.

Environmental Impact

Still not convinced? Let’s talk a little bit about the benefits of waterless beauty to Mother Earth, shall we?

Nowadays, because of consumer culture, almost everyone contributes to the issue of water scarcity. In the beauty industry alone, a huge amount of water and natural resources are used up by brands every year, even just to create one product.

Let’s be realistic—it’s IMPOSSIBLE to completely eliminate water from beauty brands’ supply chains.

However, cutting it out from the formula of fast-moving goods (hair care, body care, skincare, etc.), will definitely make a big difference in overall water consumption.

Since waterless products are more compact, concentrated, and longer-lasting, brands will end up producing less plastic packaging too! Win-win for the environment, don’t you think?

Now, take another look at this data:

  • By 2025, an estimated two-thirds of the world’s population will be affected by water shortage.
  • More than 1.1 billion people today lack access to freshwater.
  • Every 2 minutes, one child dies from a water-related disease.

Sure motivates you to do your part, right? Going waterless is just one of the many ways to help, but it’s a great way to do something right now.

Accessibility and Price

Although this Korean beauty trend is getting more attention worldwide, data shows that it only makes up a small percentage of the market compared to regular skincare items.

More companies are now trying to develop waterless skincare, but this is still not readily available everywhere and it’s typically priced higher upfront.

But remember: Because of its thick, concentrated texture, you only need to use a little bit to see results, so it won’t cost significantly more in the long run!

How to Get Started with Waterless Skincare Products

How to Get Started

Ready to take the plunge? Here are some ways to integrate this Korean beauty trend into your makeup and skincare regimen.

Product Substitutions

  • Instead of a water-based cleanser, use an oil-based cleanser.
  • Purchase a bar soap/shampoo instead of a liquid one.
  • Apply face oil instead of cream/gel moisturizer.
  • Try using body oil instead of body lotion.
  • Use a multipurpose beauty product for cheek colour, lip colour, and even eyeshadow!

If you want to seriously commit to water-free skincare products, you should check out brands like Loli Beauty, Ethique, Whamisa, and OWA.

They’ve got practically everything you’d need for your skin: Powder masks, scrubs, elixirs, bar cleansers, and many more!

Now, if the brand doesn’t explicitly state in their ads that their products are water-free, you should read the ingredients list before purchasing anything just to be 100% sure!

Waterless Skincare Routine

Want to take it a step further? Cool—here’s a sample skincare routine using only water-free items:

  1. First, use an oil-based cleanser to remove makeup, grime, and oil from your face.
  2. Next, apply toner to hydrate your face. Look out for ones primarily made of plant/flower extracts.
  3. Pat on essence to prep your skin for the next treatments.
  4. Put a few drops of serum or elixir on problem areas to address specific skin concerns.
  5. Apply a powder face mask and keep it on for 10-15 minutes (or for how long it says on the package description) for optimal absorption. Give your skin time to soak up all those nourishing ingredients!!
  6. Finish with a moisturizing, water-free lotion for intense hydration. If you’re not prone to acne, you can sub this out with your favorite face oil instead.

Don’t forget: A little goes a LONG way with waterless skincare, so use sparingly!



For today’s generation, health and the environment are extremely important issues to think about, but it can be a bit overwhelming to think of a solution that’ll work.

Just remember this: It sounds cliche, but small actions really do make a big difference!

If we turn waterless beauty from a fleeting trend to a sustainable way of life, we’ll definitely feel the effects within us AND all around us.


September 2, 2021 – Improved article formatting, reviewed and updated overall content

July 13, 2021 – Reviewed and updated article links

Paola Diaz
Paola Diaz

Hi, I'm Paola! A skin care enthusiast and nature lover. Creating content that promotes proper skin treatment and keeping a healthy glow is my way of sharing with the world how healthy skin can go a long way. I’m a firm believer of natural beauty that radiates inside all of us. All we need is the right kind of nourishment that inspires our wellness from inside out. So it’s really not about physical beauty alone – it’s the beautiful life we can create for ourselves when we connect with our own nature and see there is beauty that shines from every one of us.