The new frontier of the beauty sector: products without water in the formulation

The packaging of Oquist products is made of terracotta and can be reused for product refills or as decorative objects.

BOLOGNA – A visitor was surprised to catch his attention at the Swedish Oquist exhibition among the 2,700 stands of Cosmoprof, the world’s largest beauty fair, in Bologna, Italy. “Oh, it’s a brand of candles,” he exclaimed in Italian, seeing the gray clay bottles and jars spread out on a table.

The perception that Oquist produces decorative objects went far from frustrating its co-founder, Olga Ringquist. After all, the brand uses terracotta containers to store multifunctional products without water in the formulation and defines itself as “skinterior” (a neologism that condenses the words “skin”, from skin, and “interior”, referring to interior design).

Art and sustainability are at the heart of Oquist. Both are revealed in the packaging made with Italian terracotta, which after use can be replenished with cosmetic refills, or even become decorative pieces or flower pots, in the bathroom or living room. Furthermore, the entire cosmetic manufacturing process always takes place without water, which is quite different from normal skin care products, which normally contain more than 90% of the ingredient in the composition.

Eliminating water from the formulation of cosmetics – or making them “waterless” – is one of the most important trends of Cosmoprof, underlines the American studio Beautystreams, specialized in future studies for the cosmetics market.

“We have found many examples of brands that carry this as an innovation, producing without water. It’s a good choice for the planet, but also for consumers, who can buy more concentrated products that forgo preservatives to extend shelf life, ”says Fernanda Pigatto, global marketing director at Beautystreams.

“Waterless” is one of Cosmoprof’s most important trends, highlighted by the American office Beautystreams

For the Cosmoprof report, Fernanda and her team analyzed the innovations of the 2,700 brands present at the fair to identify the most recurring ones, which will set the tone for the global beauty industry in the coming years.

The “waterless” proposal is already adopted from time to time by large companies. In Brazil, in December 2021, for example, Natura launched the Biomé brand, with shampoo, conditioner and soap, all based on palm oil and stored in recycled and recyclable paper packaging. For now, the line is on sale only at the Natura concept store, in Rua Oscar Freire, in Sao Paulo.

Chanel has also embarked on the “waterless”, but through another format, the powder. In the row named n. 1 by Chanel, between natural and sustainable cosmetics and make-up, is the face cleanser that comes in the consistency of powder and after mixing it with a few drops of water it becomes a foam that cleanses the impurities of the skin.

Walking through the gigantic Cosmoprof pavilions it was easy to identify the brands supported by “waterless”. There are some companies around the world that invest, for example, in solid cosmetics: shampoos, conditioners and the like, in the form of soap. In addition to the cosmetic powder versions – another novelty in the waterless format -, they add to the consumer the advantage of being easier to transport, with less risk than liquids in suitcases or bags.

In Italy, representatives of solid products include the Simplicemente Solido and Senso Naturale brands, the latter taking the category to a new level, also offering treatment serums in waterless format.

Beauté Mediterranea Cleansing Powder

Beauté Mediterranea, an independent brand from Barcelona, ​​has brought its most innovative product to Cosmoprof, the Detox Cleansing Powder, based on volcanic ash from the island of Jeju, South Korea. The company has invested in “waterless” because it understands that showing attention to the environment is an important value, especially among young people, who are looking for more natural and sustainable products.

L’Oquist is a waterless native. The choice of this path was born from the experience of Olga’s father and partner, Pavel Babneev. Working for large companies in the sector, for 20 years he has been offering waterless formulas when customers asked for “more delicate on the skin” products. The technology existed, but it didn’t interest the industry.

According to her, by removing water, the need for chemical stabilizers and preservatives that can generate allergies disappears and, although they are not considered toxic to the body, they unbalance water-based ecosystems when returned to the environment.

“The main reason for creating products without water in the formulation is sustainability. Cosmetics in general contain 96% to 97% water. It’s not bad for you, but it’s only there to fill the bottle, to increase the volume and increase the cost. This has created an unsustainable model of what is a skincare with few active ingredients, with 70% more packaging and that the customer has to use a lot to have an effect.

Oquist’s first product was the 6-in-1 anti-aging serum, which uses vegetable oils as a base instead of water. Its multifunctional functions are: night and day care, hydration for eyes, neck and décolleté, make-up remover and aftershave. Today the portfolio also includes a moisturizing body butter, a lip balm and a cleansing oil.

Olga Ringquist and her father and partner, in Oquist, Pavel Babneev: decision for efficiency and sustainability of products

The idea is not to have a huge wallet. “With these products we have already covered all the needs of a person. There are four products that can replace 21, ”says Olga. Her intention is to innovate in packaging, offering customers new decorative items, instead of including formulas.

By participating in Cosmoprof, Olga intends to open the market beyond her e-commerce and the few European niche stores in which she is already distributed. “After launching the brand in September 2021, we started looking for distributors from all over the world and we realized that the beauty market has this ‘offline’ peculiarity. People do business at the main trade fairs in the world ”. She got the attention she wanted. At least by specialized critics. Her 6 in 1 serum was highlighted as one of the most innovative at the Bologna fair.

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