These TSA-friendly waterless products have a longer shelf life compared to gels, creams, and liquids.
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The past few years have seen powdered beauty products popping up in all sections of the beauty aisle. So what are powdered beauty products exactly? When H2O is removed from beauty products, we're left with a dry ingredient, namely powder. The cosmetics industry, especially K-beauty, has seen success with powdered products across a variety of categories, such as masks, shampoos and conditioners, setting powders, vitamin C, toothpaste, soap, and more. These products have no water, but more importantly, they have absolutely no thickeners, emulsifiers, harmful aerosols, PEGs, SLS, essential oils, and artificial fragrances. The result is an environmentally conscious product with a more potent formula and less waste. So are powdered products the future of the beauty industry? We spoke with experts about the nitty-gritty (literally) of powdered beauty. 

Powdered products are more concentrated 

Waterless products are formulated with water-soluble ingredients that activate as you use them, which enables them to exclude the added preservatives and other filler ingredients such as emulsifiers and stabilizers. Even without preservatives and water in their formulas, products in powder form tend to have a longer shelf life on average. As long as you store them in a cool, dry place and away from direct sunlight, you’re likely to get more usage before its expiration date.

“Since powdered products are more potent, they also may seemingly have a higher price tag for the perceived small amount of product,” says Vanessa Thomas, cosmetic chemist at Freelance Formulations. The confusion might lead some to steer away from the products, yet the investment is ultimately worth the result. Think of powdered products as a concentrated version of traditional liquid products. In other words, there is actually more product. And with less water in the product, it can also be packaged in a smaller bottle—meaning it’s TSA-proof and more travel-friendly.

Powdered beauty is more stable and customizable

One can entirely customize the experience when mixing the product with water, a cleanser, or even some essential oils. “These products are great for a more customized, concentrated texture experience based on how much water is added when activating the formula,” adds Thomas. 

And we can’t forget about the stabilization factor. Take vitamin C for instance. The product itself immediately starts to deteriorate after being bottled, so its best form is a powder. “Vitamin C is one of the best ingredients you can use for your skin, but it’s a very volatile ingredient which is hard to stabilize in liquids,” explains Jules Miller, founder of the Nue Co. “For this reason, the results with a vitamin C serum or cream can be limited because the vitamin efficacy is already compromised.” Both Miller and Thomas agree that mixing powdered vitamin C with other products is fine, and will actually serve as a sort of super-cocktail for your skin. 

It isn't just another trend

Perhaps the most popular form of powdered beauty is shampoos and conditioners. Even before the trend of powdered beauty began, these have been known to be very helpful when treating curly hair to create more volume. Kailey Bradt, founder of OWA Haircare, is one of the pioneer brands to feature powdered hair products in her Moondust Hair collection. When Bradt first discovered that about 80 percent of liquid shampoo is made out of water, she was determined to make other products, like conditioner, hair pomades, hair gels, body wash, and hand soap, into powder to change the way we approach personal care. 

The result has been a remarkable love for powder and an ever-increasing product line of dry products. While Bradt recognizes that people are drawn to powdered products because they are effective, she also worries about its trendiness factor. “What needs to happen to see powdered beauty take off is 1) Consumers need to gain interest in this format for more than it’s cool factor, and 2) This type of game-changing format needs to be accessible beyond the prestige category to make a greater impact for people and planet alike.” To make a difference, powdered beauty should be viewed as a lifestyle change and part of a global effort to live more consciously—not just a passing beauty trend.

If you want to start transitioning into powdered beauty, here are some of our favorites.

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Activated with water, this light exfoliant ensures smooth and clear skin (and treats breakouts as well). Inspired by geishas’ skincare routines, Tatcha’s foaming powder is made from finely ground rice and papaya enzymes to promote natural skin turnover. The formula is also sealed with three anti-aging superfoods to ensure that your skin stays radiant.

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