What is Waterless Skincare? • Neve's Bees

What is Waterless Skincare?

Why is my skin so dry even when I moisturise

Waterless Skincare is a term you may have heard of?

There’s a lot of hype at the moment about ‘water-free skincare’ (or anhydrous skincare)  so we thought we’d explore this and dig deeper into what waterless skincare means and why there might be good reasons to make the switch.

Why are people moving towards waterless skincare to help dry skin?

Whilst there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with putting water on your skin, there are some good reasons why people are moving away from water-based skincare – both to help their skin and for the environmental benefits of this more sustainable skincare

Feeling curious? Have a look at the moisturiser you’re currently using (or indeed most face creams for dry skin) and see if water – ‘aqua’ – is near the top of the ingredients. If so, please do read on…

What is waterless skincare and why is switching to a water-free skincare regime better for your skin
What is waterless skincare and why is switching to a water-free skincare regime better for your skin

the addition of emulsifiers and preservatives to skin creams and lotions might help explain why your skin becomes dry even after you moisturise.

1) Emulsifiers and why these might cause skin dryness

Any facial moisturiser, facial cleansing cream, hand cream or body lotion that is a ‘cream’ or ‘lotion’ is a mixture of water and oil (that’s the definition) and therefore requires emulsifiers to mix the water and oil. If not, they would separate. Think about if you make a salad dressing with oil and vinegar – if you leave it a little while, the oil and vinegar will separate.

Emulsifiers (or surfactants to give them their technical name) enable the oil and water to mix. Fairy liquid is a surfactant – it enables the grease in your washing up to mix with the water and be washed away.

Here’s the thing: The surfactants from that cream or lotion can remain on your skin and wreak havoc with the function of your skin barrier. Because they are designed to make your skin’s natural oils dissolve in water they also emulsify and remove your skin’s natural oils.

The result can be skin dryness.

These emulsifiers are NOT there for your skin’s benefit and are NOT needed in water-free skincare – and could be an answer to the question “why is my skin so dry even when I moisturise?”

Curious? Look at your skincare products again and see if you can spot some of these common emulsifiers:

  • sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS)
  • benzalkonium chloride
  • behentrimonium methosulphate
  • cetearyl alcohol
  • stearic acid
  • glyceryl stearate
  • ceteareth-20
  • polysorbates
  • laureth-4
  • potassium cetyl sulfate

NB – beeswax isn’t an emulsifier – it doesn’t dissolve in water

Most face creams for dry skin contain chemicals that actually result in dehydrated skin. waterless skincare is actually much more moisturising for your skin
Emulsifiers, thickeners and preservatives are needed in skin creams and lotions that contain water (aqua) – these can affect the natural balance of your skin causing dry skin even when you moisturise

2) Fillers, thickening agents and chelating agents and their impact on dehydrated skin

Because water feels ‘thin’, fillers and thickening agents are added to most creams and lotions, such as facial moisturisers, facial cleansing creams or hand creams, to make them feel ‘thicker’ – rather like adding flour or cornflour to a sauce!

These fillers and thickeners are rarely of any benefit to your skin and some can be harmful by blocking pores This may also contribute to your skin feeling so dry.

Fillers, thickening agents and chelating agents are not needed in waterless skincare and they do not help hydrate skin.

Curious? Look at your skincare products again and see if you can spot some of these common fillers, thickening agents and chelating agents:

  • Cetyl Alcohol
  • Stearyl Alcohol
  • Carnauba Wax
  • Stearic acid
  • Locust Bean Gum
  • Xanthan Gum,
  • Gelatin Carbomer
  • Salt (Sodium Chloride)
  • Magnesium aluminium silicate,
  • silica
  • bentonite  (Sometimes these are used as exfoliants)
  • tetrasodium EDTA and
  • tetrahydroxypropyl ethylenediamine.
Water-based skincare contains emulsifiers and preservatives which can cuase skin dryness and dehydrated skin. Water-free skincare contains less harmful chemicals for your skin
Water-based creams and lotions require emulsifiers and preservatives which can harm the skin’s natural protective barrier which can lead to dry and damaged skin

3) Preservatives and how these affect skin dryness

This is my biggest bugbear!

Any product with water as an ingredient must have an antimicrobial preservative to prevent dangerous bacteria from growing in the water element. There is one exception here – we are allowed to offer pure organic hydrosols (the water element created when essential oils are distilled from plants) as long as nothing else is added– see our organic rosewater.

The problem is this: The sole purpose of these preservatives is to kill cells (their technical name is biocides). Many of these ingredients have been proven to be harmful to the skin, and scientists are investigating new alternatives. Some are considered to be less harmful, but they are all designed to kill cells (bacteria) and are, by their very nature, harsh, damaging the skin’s natural protective balance (in a similar way that we now know antibiotics damage our natural gut balance).

There is little doubt that these are responsible for many adverse skin reactions to beauty and skincare products and can also help to answer the common question about why your skin is so dry even when you moisturise.

Preservatives are NOT needed in water-free skincare products and are NOT there to help skin dryness.

Curious? Look at your skincare products again and see if you can spot some of these common preservatives:

  • parabens
  • formaldehyde
  • methylisothiazolinone (MI)
  • phenoxyethanol
  • potassium sorbate
  • triclosan
  • triclocarban
  • phenoxyethanol
  • benzyl benzoate,
  • zinc pyrithione
  • benzalkonium chloride
  • benzyl alcohol
  • Dehydroacetic Acid
  • Sodium benzoate:

4) Last but not least – The environmental Footprints of many moisturisers for dry skin

The amount of packaging used, and the carbon footprint of shipping, water-based creams and lotions is significantly higher than that of pure oils, salves and balms. For example, a typical body lotion contains ten times more volume to package and ship than the equivalent body oil! That’s the difference between packaging and transporting one can of drink vs a big 3.5 litre bottle of drink!

What does all this mean for the health of your skin? 

But don’t we need water in skincare products to hydrate the skin? The short answer is no! Because your skin draws water from the dermis below, and from the air around it (which can also be aided by humectants like beeswax) many experts now see no benefit in adding water to a moisturiser other than to make it cheaper to produce – and not to help alleviate dry, dehydrated skin. And the chemical agents that are required in water-based skincare are most definitely not helping your skin be hydrated.

Here at Neve’s Bees, we agree with the experts. We’d rather sell you something that’s both good for your skin and the environment – all of our products are waterfree skincare – good for your skin and good for our planet.

Neve's Bees Face cream for dry skin and mouisturiser for dry skin

Our range of pure natural skincare with 100% active ingredients – moisturisers that keep your skin nourished and hydrated.

Neve’s Bees range of waterless skincare can really help your skin

Our range of 100% Natural skincare products with 100% active ingredients for skin that glows with natural health. Our undiluted, concentrated salves, oils and balms repair and maintain the outer skin barrier, sealing in moisture far more effectively – and naturally. And because we use pure plant oils, they allow the skin to regulate itself rather than creating an occlusive, pore-clogging seal as petrochemical-derived, mineral emollients do.

So perhaps your current ‘moisture’ cream or lotion could be the reason why your skin is so dry even when you moisturise. Why not try out our range of water-free skincare products to see if they help with skin dryness:

Our Luscious Lip Balms are fab for dehydrated skin
Our Luscious Lip Balms are fab for dehydrated skin

Beeswax Hand Salve Range - Neve's Bees
Rich Hand Salves for soft, supple hands – great for dehydrated skin after all this hand washing

Neve's Bees Body Oils - how to hydrate skin - a great moisturiser for dry skin
Neve’s Bees Body Oils – a fab moisturiser for dry skin

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2 thoughts on “What is Waterless Skincare?

  1. Caryll Barber says:

    Thank you so much for your detailed analysis of “face creams”. I have only used oils on my skin for years and at age 74 I’m told I look 15 years younger! I am looking forward to trying your new range. The balm particularly. Your lip balm is particularly good for my often dry lips.
    Keep up the bee vibes!

    • Julie Macken says:

      Hello Caryll
      Thank you so much for your comment – glad you liked the article 🙂
      Yes, I totally agree with you – face oils are marvelous – so glad they work for your skin – wow, that’s a big age difference people are seeing in you – testimony to the power of the good, natural skin care you’ve chosen
      We really appreciate your comment – thank you!
      Julie, Neve and The bees x

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