If Every Single Thing Aggravates Your Skin, It’s Time to Try Preservative-Free Powdered Skin Care

Photo: Getty Images/Fuse
As someone who could singlehandedly keep the dry shampoo economy afloat, I'm a big believer in powdered personal care products. You can keep your whipped moisturizers and jelly cleaners, thanks—I'd be thrilled to have an entire beauty regimen filled with things that resemble old-school astronaut food. (If only for the fact that they won't ruin my stuff if they explode in my carry-on luggage.)

Over the past few years I've come a little closer to realizing my dreams, thanks to products like Botnia's Kale-Yeah Mask ($32, plus the cost of goat's milk yogurt to mix it with), Eminence's Strawberry Rhubarb Dermafoliant exfoliating powder ($48), and The Ordinary's 100% L-Ascorbic Acid Powder ($6), a highly stable form of vitamin C that can be mixed into other skin care products. But a new beauty brand, PWDR, just arrived on the scene totally dedicated to snow-textured skin care, with a debut product line that includes the world's first powdered hyaluronic acid serum.

According to founder Carrington Snyder—a cofounder of face-grade body care brand Kayo, whose family has been in the cosmetic chemistry business for decades—going the powder route allowed her to formulate products using water-soluble ingredients, like hyaluronic acid, without the water. (You blend the powders with water yourself, right before applying them.) This allowed her to forego preservatives and other "filler ingredients," like emulsifiers and stabilizers, to which some people are sensitive.

"When you have water in a product, you generally need a preservative to prevent the growth of things like yeast, mold, and bacteria," she explains. Not all preservatives are bad, she stresses—but some have been known to sometimes cause allergic reactions. "By simply taking out the water, while also providing the great water-soluble ingredients skin needs, what's left is a purer product with a higher concentration of impactful ingredients."

So why not just use oil-based products instead? Well, your skin needs water in order to avoid dehydration, and you won't get that from face oils (or drinking a ton of H2O) alone. "Perfectly balanced skin has both water and oil hydration," Snyder says.

preservative free skin care PWDR
Photo: PWDR

For that reason, PWDR's debut 3-product range includes both: A first-of-its-kind, powder-to-gel hydrating treatment serum ($110) that includes hyaluronic acid, vitamins B5 and B3, l-arginine, and silk peptides; and a "top coat" treatment oil ($85) that seals in the hydration with a blend of jojoba, arnica, sachi inchi, rosehip seed, and meadowfoam seed oils. "With a serum, we needed a product that had the same luxury feel, effectiveness and scent comparable to other luxury serums, and we also needed it to turn into this serum within seconds of combining with water—not an easy formulating task," Snyder says. "Needless to say, it took a long time to get this formula right."

Rounding out the mix is a powder-to-creme face wash ($45) that gently exfoliates skin with kaolin and bentonite clay plus finely milled berry seeds. "We have found that by taking out the harsher companion ingredients, this product is great for more finicky skin types," Snyder explains, adding that it's particularly great for oily and sensitive complexions. "The ingredients that can cause skin sensitivities are missing, and what you get is a cleaner product compared to water-based cleansers."

Aside from the fact that the line left my skin feeling super soft and dewy, I also loved that the products are customizable—as someone with oily skin, I could add a little extra water to the serum powder to make it more lightweight without compromising effectiveness. What's more, this trio has sustainability cred. "Our powdered products are packaged and shipped in smaller, lighter, water-free form, cutting down on both packaging and shipping weight," Snyder says. (Soon, a subscription service will allow you to get refills for your jars in compostable packets.)

Fresh powder's also on the way—Snyder's currently putting the finishing touches on two "really exciting" masks, another serum, and a cleanser for dry skin. That's a forecast my medicine cabinet can get behind.

If you're more of a drugstore beauty devotee, check out the $24 hyaluronic serum that sells once every minute and the $8 cleanser that derms are wild for.

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