What Does the Science Behind Waterless Skincare Look Like? 3 Important Areas

Waterless skincare has paved the way for many new product opportunities for brands like yours. Thanks to this proven and science-backed innovation, you can cut out unnecessary ingredients and focus on making a pure, intentional formula. So, what is the science behind waterless skincare, and why does it work so well?

Waterless skincare refers to beauty solutions that are formulated with as little water as possible. While traditional skincare formulas require additives and preservatives due to the amount of water they contain, waterless formulas don’t have this problem. These products deliver actives and beneficial ingredients to consumers without fillers, meaning consumers only get what they need.

Of course, this innovation is only possible thanks to science – and the waterless nature only scratches the surface of the science behind it.

Let’s take a deeper dive into three important areas:

  1. Materials science
  2. Chemistry
  3. Microbiology

To do this, we will detail the science behind Bōshi Beauty dissolving nanostrips and nanodrops. Bōshi is a great case study in waterless skincare, providing an innovative delivery system for your brand’s key ingredients.

#1 – Materials Science

Materials science in skincare is defined as researching solid materials and utilizing their composition and structure to create a formula. Choosing the materials for a skincare product is a precise process that largely depends on that specific product purpose. These materials include:

  1. Raw materials that work as the delivery system for formula components.
  2. Functional ingredients (AKA nonactive ingredients) that work in tandem with actives so they can effectively penetrate the skin’s barrier. For example, while active ingredients are responsible for the intended therapeutic treatment of a skincare product, functional ingredients might be used to stabilize a formula or enhance a texture. While they don’t provide the treatment itself, functional ingredients play a vital role in product formulation, consistency, stability, preservation and many other factors.

Bōshi’s raw materials are electrospun nanofibers made from water soluble polymers. The nonwoven web of polymer fibers creates a unique delivery system that improves the stability of certain bioactive compounds, allowing scientists to experiment with multi-functional formulas.

During product development, both active and functional ingredients can be added directly to the polymer solution and are electrospun through a patented ball electrospinning process, leaving behind dry nonwoven nanofiber sheets with actives incorporated throughout. The nanofiber sheets can be layered; each layer can contain a different active. Thanks to this layered solution, brands have the option to create formulas that contain traditionally incompatible ingredients, since ingredients can remain isolated until the product is dissolved when applied to the skin.

However, in some waterless product instances, the addition of an oil to the aqueous polymer solution may necessitate using an emulsifier. Oils are functional ingredients that can provide a good skin feel and enhance moisturization. It is well known that oil and water don’t mix, so in order to make a homogenous solution, an emulsifier is added. These functional ingredients can be just as important as active ingredients – without them, the product would not be viable or well-received by the consumer. Some examples of functional ingredients are:

  • Grapeseed oil
  • Jojoba oil
  • Oat kernel extract
  • Rosehip oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Squalene

#2 – Chemistry

Chemistry in skincare is defined as researching and studying active ingredients and testing how those properties will interact with skin for a specific treatment. In the case of waterless skincare, chemistry can focus on fewer ingredients than traditional solutions, thanks to the elimination of fillers and additives that we discussed earlier.

Product purpose will determine the active ingredient(s) used in a formula, as different skincare needs require different actives. For example, Bōshi formulas offer treatments for:

  • Soothing
  • Anti-aging
  • Acne
  • Cleansing
  • Moisturizing

And of course, these treatments are customizable, so brands can create formulas for other skincare needs as well. No matter the product purpose, R&D scientists will be able to adjust a formula to include the right actives for the right treatment.

With traditional formulations, the active ingredient is often at a very low concentration. With Bōshi, the active concentration is typically much higher, but the dose is the same. How is this possible? One analogy is to think about getting vitamin C from a tablet versus from orange juice. Both a vitamin C  tablet and a glass of OJ might contain 500 mg of vitamin C, but the OJ also contains water, pulp, and sugar. The vitamin C tablet only contains ascorbic acid and a carrier material. So while the amount of vitamin C is the same for both, the concentration differs considerably. When you remove the water, preservatives, rheology modifiers, and other such ingredients, you end up with a much more concentrated formula.

Bōshi only contains nanofibers, functional ingredients, and actives – opening the door to highly concentrated formulas and products as highlighted above. Some common actives used in waterless Bōshi formulas are:

  • Mandelic acid
  • Niacinamide
  • Salicylic acid
  • Ferulic acid
  • Caffeine

#3 – Microbiology

Microbiology in skincare involves testing formulas to see if they are safe for consumer use. It analyzes the bacteria, yeast and fungi present per gram of formula and determines the overall bioburden, specifically noting certain types of harmful microbes. Testing for water activity is vital, as it indicates the amount of free water molecules available in a formula. The water activity influences the risk for microbial growth since most microbes need water to survive. 

Traditional skincare products typically list water as their number one ingredient, so a preservative is required in order to limit the growth of microbes. However, with waterless Bōshi formulas, the water activity is very low – below what would require the use of a preservative.

Scientists also complete stability testing to ensure that products remain safe within their packaging. This step involves some preplanning – for example, consumers generally store skincare products in the bathroom, which can potentially expose those products to heat and shower steam. In this case, scientists will conduct stability tests with increased temperature and humidity. Several packaging methods may be tested and those that are able to protect the product from degradation and microbial growth can be options for use with the final product.  

Final Thoughts

Without science, the skincare we have today simply wouldn’t be possible. No product can go on the shelf without research and development and rigorous testing – we need chemists and scientific processes to determine if a product is viable, if a formula is safe and effective, and how to improve that formula if adjustments are needed. Thanks to science, we now have waterless skincare like Bōshi, allowing brands to bring effective ingredients to consumers without harmful additives.

Want to incorporate waterless skincare into your product line? Contact TaikiUSA today to get started.