11 Reusable Alternatives to Your Beloved Single-Use Makeup Wipes
Makeup wipes are effective and can feel essential for busy, active people. But unlike reusable makeup remover pads, they’re usually only good for one use. Don’t get me wrong, single-use makeup wipes can be great. They often include skin-loving ingredients like aloe vera, hyaluronic acid, glycolic acid, and witch hazel to remove makeup, grime, and sweat while keeping our skin hydrated and clean. But as convenient as they are, the one-and-done usage means they’re pretty crappy for the environment. Since we know we can get those same skin-loving ingredients in cleansers, serums, and other beauty products, it’s probably time to consider making the switch to reusable makeup remover pads.
When I asked Betsy Dorn, director at RSE USA, a recycling and waste consulting company, about how my use of makeup wipes affects the environment, she immediately tells me that she doesn’t use them because they are so wasteful. (Sigh…not a good sign.) “People think, ‘Oh, this isn’t that big.’ But when you add it all up, it’s a lot,” she says. Now I’m having flashbacks of my wipes, plus my neighbors’ wipes, plus my mom’s wipes all piled in a pit somewhere. “We all like convenience. Unfortunately, that’s how we evolved in our society,” says Dorn. “Busy lives cause us to want more convenient options.” Makeup wipes are the perfect example. If I don’t have time to wash my face with water, I reach for a wipe. But these wipes stick around a lot longer than you think.
Dorn says it takes years for makeup wipes to breakdown in the landfill, which is where they are most likely to end up. According to the FDA, wipes are made from a combination of things such as polyester, polypropylene, cotton, wood pulp, and rayon fibers, many of which are not biodegradable. (There are few biodegradable wipes on the market—RMS Beauty and Yes To have compostable options—though the packaging these wipes come in is almost never biodegradable or even recyclable.
The worst way you can dispose of wipes is by flushing them down the toilet, she says. Water treatment plant workers have to fish them out and dispose of them (along with countless plastic tampon applicators), so they end up in landfills anyway, but it takes more work to get them there. And if you’ve got a septic system, you’re just asking for a clog.
Fortunately, beauty brands have come out with eco-friendly alternatives to these single-use, landfill-filling wipes: reusable makeup remover pads, washable wipes, and microfiber cloths that make removing makeup a cinch. Bonus: They also clean up more easily than your standard washcloth (because have you ever tried to get a makeup stain out of nice towels? Save those linens for shower time). Below, nine reusable makeup remover pads and cloths that are worth checking out this Earth Week.
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All products featured on SELF are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.