The beauty industry is constantly evolving. One of the latest innovations making waves in the personal care space is waterless products for the skin, hair, and body. A leading driver for these types of products is sustainability. Waterless products, also known as anhydrous, can help reduce water usage and help to provide hygienic solutions for the one in ten people in the world who don’t have access to clean water. While the beauty category is fairly new, trend forecasting company WGSN predicts that it will only get bigger.
One of the waterless beauty products paving the way is SWAIR, a showerless shampoo. We recently sat down with SWAIR co-founders, Carrie Sporer and Meredith Krill to get the backstory on how they came up with the product and to learn more about the brand.
“SWAIR was really created to fulfill a personal need. Meredith and I enjoyed running and other workouts like tabata and metabolic conditioning that left us dripping in sweat. Since dry shampoo doesn’t work on very sweaty hair, we had to wash ours every time we worked out. This added a ton of time to our get-ready routine and also wreaked havoc on our hair and scalp,” Sporer tells me of how the idea for SWAIR came about. “After more than a decade of this issue, we finally decided to start calling labs to see if we could create the dream product that was missing from our gym bags and bathrooms - something that could clean very sweaty hair quickly. We spent a year working on the formula and launched Showerless Shampoo as our first product in September of 2020. In July of 2022, we launched SweatShield as a companion product and have a lot of other ideas we are working to bring to market.”
Since waterless shampoo is a new concept, I wanted to know how the ladies describe the brand to those unfamiliar with it. Krill responds, “SWAIR creates time-saving and multitasking products for people that workout. Since we know our customers are focused on health and well-being, we use exclusively clean, high-quality ingredients. Our intention is to allow people to do more of the workouts they love and less time worrying about the transition to the next part of their day.” Currently, the brand sells the two products directly on their website swairhair.com, Amazon, urbanoutfitters.com, and at some small fitness studios across the country. Krill continues, “However, we are looking for key strategic retailers that would help us to bring SWAIR to a wider audience.”
The two products are divided into “wash days” and “other days”. “On wash day, you apply SweatShield to clean, damp hair. The technology in this product seals the hair follicles from sweat, humidity, and pollution. As a result, you’ll notice your hair is less affected by your workouts and stays relatively frizz free despite the humidity outdoors or in the locker room. It is the perfect product for an effortless air dry for straight/wavy hair, and our curly customers say it gives more bounce and less frizz. You can use it alone as a lightweight leave-in conditioner or apply after an in-shower conditioning, depending on your preference,” explains Sporer.
Sporer continues, “On ‘other days’ you can use Showerless Shampoo to clean sweaty hair without suds, rinsing or residue between in-shower shampoos. Unlike dry shampoo, Showerless Shampoo is unique because it can be used on VERY sweaty hair in addition to daily dirt/grime. The key is just to use a tiny bit and don’t forget to towel dry - it’s the step that removes the dirt. (since Showerless Shampoo is a wet product and sweat is mostly water, your hair will be damp). To be honest, it can take a few tries to perfect your technique, but it’s worth it!”
I wanted to know if SWAIR products were meant to replace shampoo all together. Krill responds, “SWAIR products are meant to complement traditional shampoo and conditioner. Personally, we use regular shampoo about 1-2 times a week and will occasionally use an in-shower deep conditioner. The other days we use SWAIR products, and there are so many benefits. Most people realize that less time in the shower is great for saving water but reducing your hair and scalp’s exposure to water keeps it more hydrated, protects the vibrancy of both natural and dyed color, and is beneficial to your microbiome.”
Since waterless shampoo is a new class of products, I wanted to know how challenging it was to create the formulations. “It was definitely a challenge to create a new class of products,” Sporer tells me. “Showerless Shampoo, in particular, was tricky because there is absolutely NOTHING like it on the market and it requires the consumer to learn a new behavior. When we reached out to labs, they either told us we would need a lot of alcohol in the product (which is something on our NO list and we were not willing to compromise) or they simply tried to talk us into making a dry shampoo. After a lot of dead ends, we met a single scientist that was excited to take on the challenge and understood the chemistry needed to make it happen.”
Sustainability is a cornerstone for the brand. “Much of our brand is modeled after our own behavior, and since we personally seek out products that are sustainable and clean, we made sure our own brand held up to these standards. All products are certified vegan and cruelty free by Leaping Bunny,” shares Krill. “There is also some really exciting data around Showerless Shampoo. We estimate that our Showerless Shampoo customers are cutting down on in-shower hair washes at least twice a week. That equals more than three hundred gallons of water saved per person per year!”
The women were incredibly conscious when choosing their packaging, something the beauty industry is known to be wasteful with. Krill continues, “Our bottles are made of PET 1 which is one of the most common and easiest plastics to recycle. We also buy shipping boxes that are the proper size for our bottles, so when you order on our website, the bottles are simply put into a recyclable, reusable zip pouch and shipped without any excess filler. This is definitely an area that keeps evolving for us, and we are constantly on the lookout for new ways to improve our practice.”
The duo has plans to launch several new products in the future. “We have a long list of products that we want to create that fall within our brand values of multitasking/time-saving and clean beauty,” Sporer tells me. “We are trying to be responsible and methodical about new launches to manage cash-flow and marketing expenses, but there is definitely more coming from SWAIR.”
As far as any words of wisdom the ladies can share from their experience creating a new category in beauty, Krill shares, “Right now we think innovation is key to starting a new beauty brand. Customers are savvier than ever and are not looking to buy something they already have, just in different packaging. Practically, you need to make sure that your product has great price value and delivers on its claims. We’ve found that these two things are most important in generating repeat purchases, which is where you make your money!”