Is Water-based Skincare Really All It's Cracked Up To Be?

Keeping it simple and effective in the skin and body care segment is undoubtedly our specialty here at B&E. We find that simple and effective works best with anhydrous formulations, but many people ask, “What does anhydrous even mean?”

Plainly speaking, anhydrous means “without water.” That’s right, all of B&E’s handcrafted products are made without the use of water… even our highly soothing moisturizers!

So what’s the big deal anyhow? What kind of advantages does a “water free” product provide?

Read on, and you may be surprised to find out some of this information.

Anhydrous skincare formulas are highly concentrated and effective by nature, often showing results after a short period of regular use. This is because most anhydrous products are typically 100% oil based (lipophilic) and not watered down or loaded with additional (and often unnecessary) ingredients. Lipophilic formulas have been proven to promote cellular turnover by encouraging healthy new cell growth.

In comparison, water-based products have a much different disposition…

Consider this for a moment: When you get out of the shower how does your skin feel? Many would say tight, clean or refreshed? All great regards, but hang on - that so fresh and so clean feeling your birthday suit experiences post shower is actually caused by the rapid evaporation of water from your skin, and not your cleansing agent. Rapid evaporation of water from your skin causes the cells to lose moisture quickly through the evaporation process.

So the fresh, clean feeling is actually freshly dehydrated skin.

Now don’t let this be the reason to stop enjoying a nice hot shower when you want! We only use this as evidence because it brings us to our next point… your skincare and what it’s really made of.

Go ahead and grab any bottle or jar of a commercial skincare product, turn it over and give the ingredient list a good look… as you’re taking a glance at the label, remember that cosmetic companies are required to list their ingredients from most prevalent to least prevalent, in that order.

Water (or aqua) is almost always the first ingredient. In fact, it’s often about 80% or more of the total product.

So are you still wondering why your daily moisturizer or night cream or “hydrating body wash” isn’t showing any real benefits with regular use? More importantly, how do you feel about basically buying fancy bottles of undrinkable water?

Research shows hydrolyzed (or water-based) skincare poses several disadvantages vs. anhydrous (without water) formulas including:

  • Water soluble ingredients do not penetrate the skin as effectively as lipophilic (oil-based) ingredients, and hydrolyzed skincare’s lack of penetration makes it difficult for your skin to achieve actual cellular turnover.
  • Water-based formulas are essentially watered-down ingredients. Hydrolyzed ingredients show much lower bioavailability, which is the degree and rate at which an administered product is absorbed by the body. A low bioavailability strongly reduces the potency of the active plant constituents.
  • Hydrolyzers rely on emulsifiers to mix the oil and water in their products. The emulsifiers typically used in commercial skincare have been known to disrupt skin lipid barriers, which results in drying and damage over time.
  • Water-based formulas require preservatives, no matter what. These synthetic chemicals inhibit bacteria and mold growth – which is a good thing – but we aren’t certain of the long-term effects of every perseverative type on the human body.

So with all of this new information, why does nearly every store-bought product contain a high water content if it is essentially rendering the product ineffective?

The truth is water is cheap, and the more water added to the product, the less the product will cost, resulting in a higher profit. Even if you see 40+ ingredients on the label, chances are very likely that only a small percentage of the total product is anything other than water. Also, as we mentioned, if the formula contains water, preservatives are needed to prevent bacteria and fungus from multiplying within the product.

Let’s review the benefits of anhydrous products in comparison:

  • No water = No preservatives. Water is a breeding ground for bacteria and fungus, so preservatives are a must in a hydrolyzed product, but not in anhydrous.
  • Anhydrous products can be made entirely from plant/mineral material and can be shelf stable for 1-2 years on its own, which is great news for anyone interested in a truly natural skincare regimen.
  • Less is more. Applying anhydrous usually feels different (in a good way) than commercial; your skin will feel instantly nourished. Rich and undiluted water-free products last longer since you can cut down on the amount of product needed per application.
  • Great for the environment and your wallet. You don’t need to use as much, therefore you won’t need to buy as much. Less packaging = less waste. Even mother nature wins.
  • Using natural and undiluted ingredients will show real results in a realistic timeframe due to its high bioavailability and advanced cellular turnover.

B&E expertly crafts over 50 anhydrous products and can recommend an ideal regimen to compliment any skin type. Find the products in our showroom or visit us online For additional guidance on the best skincare for your specific needs, please swing by the shop and speak to our skincare specialist.