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Water conscious beauty - sustainable personal care solutions

Water is the number one raw material in the Beauty & Personal Care industry. It has commonly been used as a fundamental role in formulation, considering so many beauty formulas are either oil-in-water or water-in-oil emulsions. But with this precious resource diminishing, the beauty industry is being challenged to rethink how water can be reduced and even eliminated in manufacturing and formulation – enter ‘water-conscious beauty’. 

The UN reports that with existing climate change conditions, “almost half the world's population will be living in areas of high water stress by 2030.”(1) And with sustainability being such an important priority among today’s consumers, adapting the idea of water stewardship is more important than ever. According to the CEO Water Mandate ‘water stewardship’ is the “use and treatment of water in ways that are socially equitable, environmentally sustainable, and economically beneficial”(2). This is something we can adopt and try and follow in our everyday lives, through simple measures such as turning off the tap, running the washing machine less often, reusing water etc... but it is also something that we, in the beauty industry, need to keep a focus on.

At Croda being a sustainable business sits at the heart of our purpose. Environmental Stewardship, including Water Stewardship, is one of the core sustainability fundamentals that we embrace. We are committed to protecting the natural environment through responsible management of our water consumption and waste production. By 2030, we will reduce our water use impact by 50% from our 2018 level. 

We are working to develop a water impact measure, which will consider the amount of water withdrawal, as well as the level of water stress at source. As a company, our total water withdrawal has reduced significantly, falling 16% since 2015 due to water-saving initiatives across our manufacturing sites. In 2019, our manufacturing site in Ditton, UK, reduced its water use by 58% by increasing the efficiency of its wastewater treatment plant. 

We are extremely proud of our recent achievements in the reduction of water consumption, however, as we develop an updated water target for 2030, we hope to broaden our focus to include the impact of our water use. Very few of our products contain water, we operate predominantly in locations where water scarcity is not an issue, and most of the water we withdraw is simply borrowed and used on site as process water before being discharged. We are continually working to develop a measure that will give us a better understanding of the impact of our water use and thus enable us to minimise our environmental impact associated with water. 

Across the world, businesses and consumers are starting to consider their own ‘water footprint’. According to the Water Footprint Network, a water footprint can be defined as a tool to “help us understand how much water is used each and every day in all our activities”(3). This can include every day activities such as taking a shower or brushing our teeth, but it also helps us consider water used for other daily tasks such as preparing our food or washing our clothes. A water footprint helps “drive strategic action toward sustainable, efficient and equitable water use”. 

The Water Footprint Network have made it easy to calculate your personal water footprint using their online calculator which takes into account your own water consumption, as well as the water requirements per unit of product depending on the country you live in. This tool not only serves as a straightforward way to calculate your impact, but it helps teach us where small, but meaningful sacrifices can be made. Making only a few changes to our daily routines can help create a significant reduction in our personal water footprints. 

Water conscious woman washing face with less water for conservation purposes

And with this increase in sustainable practices globally – through both the manufacturing side, as well as in our personal day-to-day – brands and consumers alike have become considerably more aware of the importance of water conservation within their beauty products. Waterless is no longer just a trend but is set to become a front-runner in beauty formulations as it combines sustainability, convenience and the ability to create alternative formats, including more concentrated products. These anhydrous formulations may include solid bar formats, powders, oils and oil-based sticks, creams, and balms. In the last five years (2017 to 2021), we’ve seen at least a 20% increase in waterless product launches in oil, balm, loose powder, and fluid formats. Since 2017, global product launches excluding water have shown a 9% increase across all applications and a 26% increase specifically in Skin Care applications.(4) There is not only room for this formulation type to grow in Personal Care, but there is also plenty of reason for brands to increase their waterless offerings. 

Formats and textures of product launches that exclude water as an ingredient

(Mintel Group Ltd, 2022)

In keeping with the importance of water conservation and the trend of these products in Personal Care, Croda offers a variety of formulations with water-conscious formats combining chassis ingredients, market-leading actives and botanical extracts. It is our aim to help our customers reach their own sustainability goals through the use of our ingredients. We have many products that are suitable for solid or powder formats and have built up a bank of formulation prototypes to showcase our novel, water-conscious innovations in use.

For example, Croda's naturally water-conscious Nourishing Hair Block is a fun, travel-friendly and sustainable shampoo and conditioning bar that serves as the perfect companion for beauty on-the-go! Formulated with our mild, scalp-friendly emulsifying wax, Crodex™ M, the waterless bar has little raised bumps on one side to gently massage the scalp. The Solid Styling Balm is also water-conscious and provides moisturising benefits to keep hair nourished. Our Silky and Smooth Transformative Lotion Bar is a powerful moisturiser with a lightweight skin-feel that doesn't include water or require water to use. Simply rub the bar on your skin for a hydrated glow. Finally, the bright and playful Shape and Play Cleansing Sand is a water-conscious cleansing sand that can be used on your face or body. Use this formulation as inspiration to develop a buildable, fun sand format that can be moulded or shaped to your liking. 

With such a demand for sustainable, water-conscious products in the beauty industry, Croda is here to support our customers on their water-stewardship journeys. We are very proud of our achievements in this area already but know there is more work to be done. Together, we can build an industry that works to conserve as much water as possible. 

For more water-conscious formulation inspiration, visit our formulation finder here

(2) CEO Water Mandate
(4) Mintel GNPD

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Published by

  • Christina Richardson Marketing Coordinator

Water-Conscious Toolkit – Inspiration for Waterless Formulating

Waterless formulation inspiration for Beauty and Personal Care
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