Solid shampoos, soaps and other low-water care products: less is more

  • With drinking water becoming increasingly scarce worldwide, the environmental consciousness of end consumers is growing
  • Cosmetics manufacturers must focus on low-water products
  • BTC’s Zero Waste collection offers a wide range of basic formulas for solid, low-water care products and concentrates

When purchasing cosmetic products, consumers are paying ever more attention to how sustainable they are. In particular, the preservation of water – a scarce resource – is becoming increasingly important. Manufacturers are faced with the challenge of offering attractive, low-water product alternatives with good performance.

Water is a valuable resource that is becoming ever more scarce. According to estimates, more than two billion people worldwide do not have access to safe drinking water, and the number is growing. “Population growth, economic growth and changed consumer habits are causing global water consumption to increase by around one per cent annually,” writes the German Commission for UNESCO when presenting the United Nations World Water Report 2021.


Using resources wisely: BASF campaign #OurPlasticsJourney

Environmental consciousness in the population has grown

In view of these developments, people are becoming increasingly environmentally conscious and ever more consumers are trying to save water. According to the Federal Association of Energy and Water Management (Bundesverband der Energie- und Wasserwirtschaft – BDEW), the daily water consumption per person in Germany was 129 litres on average, which is almost 20 litres less than it was 30 years ago. When it comes to the industrial use of water, too, the amount of water used and the pollution levels in waste water are playing a decisive role. Therefore, more and more companies – such as BASF – are committing themselves to reducing water consumption as part of their sustainability strategies, i.e. through circulation systems or innovative methods in production.

Water consumption also plays a role in many areas of the cosmetics industry: when cultivating the raw materials, in production, when combining and weighting the ingredients and ultimately when the products are used by the final consumer. Accordingly, in its trend report the Mintel market intelligence agency identified water consumption as one of four key trends that will have a significant impact on the beauty and personal care sector up to 2025. Because conventional cosmetic products generally contain a lot of water, more and more manufacturers are switching their focus to low-water or water-free solutions in their formulations.

Innovative suggested formulations from BTC Europe

The Zero Waste collection from BTC supports cosmetics manufacturers in this task. Using 45 versatile ingredients, the personal care chemists have developed 14 different and innovative formulation ideas for creams, shampoos and other cosmetic products that contain little or no water. “These prototypes are intended to inspire manufacturers: we want to demonstrate what is possible with our ingredients,” explains Josefine Schröder, Senior Technical Expert Personal Care at BTC.

The Zero Waste collection from BTC Europe: Suggested formulations:

  • Lavender Soap Bar (HB-DE-20-138-7)
  • Fresh Splash Pressed Mouth Wash (OC-DE-20-179-1)
  • Moroccan Oil Lotion DIY (SC-DE-20-084-12)
  • Clean & Relax Cleansing Concentrate (HB-DE-20-082-18)
  • Lavender Shampoo Concentrate (HB-DE-20-050-16)
  • Pimp my Papaya Cream (SC-DE-20-092-3)
  • Touch of Sun Boost A (SC-DE-20-092-A)
  • Rejuvenation Boost B (SC-DE-20-092-B)
  • Refresh Boost C (SC-DE-20-092-C)
  • Strawberry Melting Mask Stick (SC-DE-20-049-18)
  • Kiss of Vanilla Lipbalm (SC-DE-20-093-2)
  • Kiwi Peeling Stick (HB-DE-20-085-9)
  • Power Shower Powder (HB-DE-20-018-12)

Solid and concentrated cosmetic products

As the concept shows, there is a variety of possibilities. “When it comes to water-conserving cosmetic products, we initially think of soap bars or water-free sticks,” comments the expert. The traditional bar of soap has once again entered end consumers’ bathrooms, while solid shampoos, lip balms or hair styling products are enjoying a resurgence in popularity. BTC’s product portfolio also contains solid face masks and peeling sticks, alongside further care products available in innovative forms. The portfolio is rounded off with highly efficient fluid shampoo or cleaning concentrates or powdered shower products.

For many water-free cosmetic products, the end consumer can use them for a longer period of time and also benefit from the smaller packaging – especially when travelling. And manufacturers benefit, too: they can use alternative, sustainable packaging, or even do away with it altogether. This lowers transport and storage costs.

BTC Europe helps with the perfect formulation

“It is up to customers how they use these suggestions,” stresses Schröder. They can simply use the respective recipe, or they can vary it. If manufacturers wish to modify the formulation according to their wishes and production possibilities, the experts from BTC can provide targeted support. “Cosmetics manufacturers therefore benefit from our many years of expertise in product development.”

Our BTC experts would be happy to advise you regarding this and further solutions. The contact information of your local BTC contact is available in the Solution Finder. More information on the products and formulations can be found on BASF’s Care Creations® platform.

Our formulation tips: three examples

Solid trend product: the “Lavender Soap Bar”

This lavender soap with a pH value of 10 cleans very gently and provides a soft and stable foam for the end consumer when combined with water.

Unusual, appealing product form: “Kiwi Peeling Stick”

This intense green stick with small kiwi particles has outstanding peeling properties and is suitable for sensitive skin. „The end consumer applies the stick on the wet skin. During application, the stick forms a creamy foam which can easily be rinsed off with water.”

Especially versatile concentrate combination: “Pimp my Papaya Cream”

The product idea is particularly flexible in use: the base cream complies with COSMOS and has a light texture. In additional BTC prepares three booster ideas in concentrate form, which allow the end consumer to combine the creams as desired. In doing so, they can adapt the care to their personal preferences.

Our Expert

Josefine Schröder has been working in the area of cosmetics, detergents and cleaning products for 23 years. In this time, she has gathered experience in a number of different fields, including research and development, analytics and marketing.

Her career began in 1998, when she took her diploma thesis at Henkel. Following this, the qualified chemist joined the newly founded company Cognis, which was later taken over by BASF. Since switching to BTC Europe around eight years ago, she has been responsible for cosmetics throughout the whole of Europe as a Senior Technical Expert.

Schröder is fascinated by “the work with and at customers all over Europe, different cultures, ways of thinking, requirements and markets”. She loves the variety that her career offers her, and “of course, working in a fantastic team”.

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