Why you should ditch your makeup wipes

by Kathleen Lee-Joe - 19/04/16, 7:11 PM


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Bear in mind that the skin around your eyes is especially sensitive.

Bear in mind that the skin around your eyes is especially sensitive.

So, the party came and went and it was grand. When you finally (miraculously) make it home in one piece, you're usually reaching for one of two things: The water bottle on your bedside table, so you can chug as much as you can as an anticipatory hangover cure; and makeup wipes, that epitome of lazy beauty.

But there's a problem. Our global obsession with makeup wipes is clogging up our drains and choking our beaches. (Too many of us flush them down the loo and because they often contain plastic, they do not disintegrate like toilet paper.)

You just have to catch glimpse of that gross 10-tonne fatberg – a bus-sized lump of wet wipes and congealed cooking oil – to get the picture. Those things we use to keep us relatively clean and nice smelling during four-day festival benders and 14-hour flights where you're fighting it out to use a tiny bathroom sink are seriously harming the environment.


Originally designed for babies' bottoms, the use of wet wipes is increasing by around 15 per cent each year – and it's putting a serious strain on our sewers.

They can also be expensive and many don't deliver the same skin-saving benefits as conventional cleansers. For one, they tend to contain harsh, drying, sometimes stinging ingredients such as alcohol (ethanol), methylisothiazolinone and triclosan. They function similarly to cleansers, relying on surfactants, which dissolve makeup, as well as solubilisers and emulsifiers that help lift makeup, oil and dead skin cells. But without rinsing these ingredients away with water afterward, they can leave a residue of irritating chemicals that will sit on and potentially be absorbed by your skin.

The moist environment also presents the perfect breeding conditions for bacteria, so makeup wipes need a high amount of (formaldehyde-releasing) preservatives to keep them free of nasty bugs and increase their shelf life.

What's more, that physical wiping motion used to remove stubborn makeup can irritate skin where it's most sensitive – around the eyes and the border of the lips. (If you've ever felt a slight burning sensation post-wipe, you know what I'm talking about.)

Of course, thoroughly washing your face takes time and effort and sometimes you just don't have it in you. While the industry works to invent a flush-friendly wet wipe that disintegrates in 15 seconds, there are eco-friendly and natural options available so you can indulge your lazy-ass self. Josie's Maran's, WotNot's and EcoCare's, for example, do their good work with soothing chamomile, aloe vera and cucumber, and are 100 per cent biodegradable.

But at the end of the day, a quick and easy rinse-away routine is best. Do your pores a favour and give them a thorough cleanse (Lush's Ultrabland or Kiehl's Supremely Gentle Eye Make Up Remover are industry go-tos), try a washcloth or these reusable pads soaked with oil (olive oil or sweet almond oil works a treat), or buy some micellar water (French pharmacy brands such as Bioderma, La-Roche Posay and Avene are cheap and effective). Alternatively, mix up your own makeup-removing concoction containing one cup of water, a teaspoon of baby shampoo, and a few drops of baby oil. Then go to bed thoroughly cleansed, guilt-free and with no racoon eyes or lipstick schmears on your pillowcase when you wake.

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