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Beauty in these bars

Anhydrous is the word du jour in beauty products. It means no water, and an increasing number of companies are producing solid beauty bars for shampoo, moisturiser, soap, conditioner and face wash. Mary-Jane Richmond tests the latest and finds out why using them is one small way we can help the planet . . .

Regular hair care products can be made of up to 80 percent water. The average moisturiser contains 60 percent or more water.

Writing on website eco-age.com, Olivia Young says water is habitually made the leading ingredient in creams, cleansers, shower products, and liquid cosmetics, widely used as a solvent, an emulsifier, or a cheap filler that allows brands to skimp on active components.

She draws attention to the World Health Organisation and UNICEF estimate that one in three people globally lack access to clean drinking water.

According to the United Nations' 2020 World Water Development Report, 2050 will see 52 percent of the world's population living in regions that are “water-stressed.”

“And amid the looming global water crisis — deemed more dangerous even than coronavirus, the UN report says — more than 80 percent of beauty products on the market contain large doses of the dwindling resource. Sometimes up to 95 percent,” writes Ms Young.

She says the waterless beauty trend can be traced back to South Korea, where it caught on mostly because the absence of water was found to increase the potency and stability of skincare products. In recent years, the movement has been picked up by Western brands due more to its environmental benefits.

Without water, products also last longer and can be stretched further.

Water is a bacterial breeding ground. Preservatives are often added to water-based formulas to help stabilise them and therefore increase their shelf life. What's more, water can actually be dehydrating, as it strips away the skin's natural oils as it evaporates.

Christchurch-based company Au Natural Skinfood was established by Tracy and Tony Ahern in 2016. Their vision was effective clean beauty.

Their mission is to detox the world of chemical beauty, while leaving the planet “better than we found it”.

The company is actively reducing single plastics waste by having refillable and recyclable packaging.

With a philosophy of “less is more” they concentrate on more of the good stuff and none of the bad.

New Zealand manuka oil is a key ingredient in many of Au Natural's products.

The latest offerings from this South Island company are a no-soap bar, two 2-in-1 shampoo/conditioner bars, one for normal to dry hair and one for normal to oily hair and an all-in-one bar which does everything — shampoo, conditioner, face, body and shave bar.

“Regular shampoo uses excessive packaging and harsh chemicals,” says the company's publicity material. “Au Natural Skinfood is here to revolutionise your haircare game and look after the environment. This range is flipping the haircare industry on its head — literally. “

The no-soap bar has only five natural “potent” ingredients, including manuka honey.

It is sold as a hand, body and face cleansing bar. The oval shape is nice to hold and good to look at. It is a good size, and has a mild fragrance.

I'm not usually a fan of two-in-one shampoo conditioner products, but after trying this one, I'm a convert.

The product lathered up beautifully and washed out easily. According to the no-frills cardboard packet it comes in, it is enriched with manuka oil and harakeke extract.

The packaging is a big plus — no surprises when you open the neat cardboard container to find the product plain and simple, not wrapped in a layer of non-recyclable plastic.

' A Listener cover story this week on groundbreaking clinical trials of manuka oil says extensive laboratory studies have confirmed the microbial, antibacterial and antifunal properties of numerous essential oils. Manuka oil alone has been the subject of more than 1000 peer-reviewed research papers over the past 20 years.

Picture by Rebecca Grunwell

  1. Sarmistha Tripathy says:


  2. Rachel Blindauer says:

    Wow, I only knew that New Zealand Manuka honey is good for skin so I consume as well as apply TURNER manuka honey UAF1000+ on my skin – but it is surprising that it is also good for hair. I would definitely try the suggested product.