So what exactly is 'dry water'? Degussa, a manufacturer of fumed silica and metal oxide products, has developed the new product from Aerosil, a compound produced in a high-temperature process and consisting of silicon dioxide (sand) and water. It can be both a wetting agent (hydrophilic) and a water repellent (hydrophobic) and these two properties interact in Aqua Foundation. When fine droplets of water come into contact with hydrophobic Aerosil in a mixer, the company said, the water-repellent silica wraps around them, preventing the droplets from running together. The result is a powder that contains up to 95 per cent water, hence the apparently contradictory name of 'dry water'.
So Degussa had developed the dry water concept but it was, in effect, a solution looking for a problem. The company explored application ideas and Aqua Foundation was the result, taking more than a year to develop. Degussa development scientist Dr Steffen Hasenzahl explained: "This powder is then easily converted into a cream by adding small amounts of silicone oils. When the cream is rubbed, the water is released, partly evaporates and penetrates the skin. What remains is the finished makeup."
"It is very interesting for women with oily skin because it is almost oil free. Usually, products contain 20-30 per cent oil, but Aqua Foundation has no emulsifiers and contains less than two per cent of oil," Dr Hasenzahl told cosmeticsdesign.com.
The company said this 'dry water effect' provides a very promising basis for cosmetics companies to develop new products. Of particular interests to cosmetics manufacturers is that silica improves the properties of cosmetics products, such as their matting effect, and provides better stability, which is also necessary for storage.
Dr Hasenzahl said: "A number of major cosmetics companies are using the concepts but I cannot divulge the names due to customer confidentiality." He said that Degussa have been working with some customers since last summer and while he is not yet aware of any finished products on the store shelves, he is confident that consumers "can expect new products in 2005".