The craze for a “zero waste” bathroom free from liquid hygiene products with bulky packaging, most of which made of plastic, is now conveyed by an increasingly substantial powder offering.

Various solutions have been emerging: loose or compact powders to be rehydrated in a bottle (, Juliette) in order to reconstitute a liquid product and keep it, or loose powders to be directly used with water, like the Perlucine range, the Yodi shampoos and cleansers, or the Laboté face care masks in single-dose plant-derived capsules.

All these solutions go with a new, simple and convenient gesture appealing to consumers willing to reduce their carbon footprints, while preserving the quality and sensoriality of the products they use daily.

All solutions are permitted

In this context, the latest launches seem to highlight a preference for the loose version of powders. “Loose powder has the advantage of avoiding a shaping phase, compared to compact forms, and of dissolving more easily and quickly in water, a priori, when the product is reconstituted. But because it is designed to be diluted so it becomes a liquid hygiene product that can be kept, preservatives are needed,” explains Stéphanie Reymond, founder and Director of Squarexpert, a technical and marketing consulting agency specialized in cosmetics. However, this constraint can be avoided with the loose version to be diluted every time it is used.

The latest launches include the brand new JU shower gels. Perfumed with cotton flower, orange blossom, vanilla, or almond, they get in the bathroom in the form of packs of powder to be diluted. A secured glass-based pump-bottle is supplied with the first order, along with three 25-gramme powder packs with various perfumes which, once diluted in tap water, are used to reconstitute a liquid shower gel to be kept. The very fluid powder can be easily mixed to formulate a product suited to the whole family.

The doses packed in paper and partly in a light recyclable plastic film are shipped in a plain envelope and can be kept up to three years. “We wanted to make things happen by first offering a shower gel, a product which usually contains 90% of water. JU only keeps the 10% of actives remaining in the form of powder composed of 99% of ingredients of natural origin,” explains Karline Hamain, founder of the Juliette brand.

Going forward, the brand has planned to develop a comprehensive hygiene range for adults & kids, including, next February, toothpaste designed with the same concept and presented in the form of an 8-gramme pack of powder to hydrate in an adapted pump-bottle. To support its strategy, the brand has partnered with the Normandy-based, health & beauty specialists Laboratoires Gilbert to make the products.

There are still few specialized players on the market. Formulation and packaging are quite technical,” explains the brand founder.

Strengthening the industrial phase

As Stéphanie Reymond confirms, powder product manufacturing still presents a few constraints.

In terms of formulation, the choice of solid surfactants is still quite limited, especially when you want to satisfy naturalness, Cosmos, and skin tolerance criteria,” she says. “In terms of production, packaging is tricky. Due to the volatile nature of powder, there can be risks when handling this type of ingredients: some mixtures are explosive, there are risks of inhalation and contact with the skin… All this should be avoided,” she adds.

The brand Step One, launched in 2019 in Aurillac, in central France, actually developed based on their technical skills: as soon as 2017, they registered a first patent about their production method. Now, they boast a broad range of 21 references: shower gels/cleansing gels for body & hair, face & hands, and shampoos, always in the form of powders to dilute in a bottle, and refills in compostable PLA paper packs. The brand exports a lot, in particular to Nordic countries, and in January 2022, they launched the first powder deodorant to be reconstituted (6 g) in a 50-ml roll-on bottle with a glass ball recyclable over and over.

We were the first to define a formulation + production complex. Today, there is a strong demand for tailor-made products based on our technology,” explains Héloïse Fontaine, founder of the startup.

To meet this demand, the laboratory is considering stepping up their game with a more important industrialization phase, in particular with the support of ADEME, the French Agency for Ecological Transition – the company won the EETE request for proposals as part of the France Relance state recovery programme, which shows their commitment for sustainability. “The idea is to be able to supply key accounts, because they are increasingly interested in our approach,” highlights the entrepreneur.

As for Lessonia, the ingredient & cosmetics manufacturer and powder specialist since the company was found, they also chose to strengthen their industrial tool by purchasing a packaging machine for powder cosmetics.

Powder products require industrial equipment and know-how that not all cosmetics companies can boast. The issues are not the same, there are problems with mixtures, grain size, density, long wear… As for packaging, a powder injector is definitely not the same thing as an injector designed for liquids,” says Innovation Director Charles-Henri Morice.

In addition, the Director points at regulatory constraints, which, for now, are not adapted to this new market and its very specific characteristics. “What can be considered as the finished product, the powder or the reconstituted product?” he asks. “The fact that the product is transformed makes it all more complex, and we are struggling with this regulatory vacuum. Let’s take the example of preservatives: they need to be in sufficient quantity in the finished reconstituted product, but on the other hand, under the European Cosmetics Regulation, there is a limit not to be exceeded in the dry product. So we need to find the right percentage in the powder so it is enough for the reconstituted product,” explains Charles-Henri Morice.

Despite being very young, the powder cosmetic/hygiene product category requires adjustments due to a high demand. This transitional phase promises a bright future.