“I use cleansing wipes to remove my makeup”
Tell this to most skincare enthusiasts, and what you’d be greeted with is an exaggerated gasp of breath, and wide-eyed horror.
“No, you don’t!” They’d exclaim in disbelief.
What started out as a convenient skincare product is now one of the most villified beauty products in the market. Every beauty and skincare guru worth their salt is condemning it, left, right and center. Every YouTube personality who is caught using one, is shunned and talked about in hushed tones of disgust.
But why and how did this happen? Why are makeup cleansing wipes so bad for our skin, and are they? Should we not use them at all?
What are makeup cleansing wipes?
We’re all familiar with this by now. They are just like wet-wipes i.e. moistened tissue, except they are moistened with a product that helps remove makeup, as it cleans.
I have seen them called anything from makeup cleansing wipes, cleansing wipes, or even micellar water cleansing wipes.
Yes, wet wipes pre-moistened with micellar water is now the latest thing, as it is seemingly ‘better’ and more ‘gentle’ for the skin.
Yet, they all serve a very basic function – to clean your skin easily and remove makeup without needing water. So, why is it bad?
Makeup Cleansing Wipes encourage lazy cleansing
The problem with the convenience that makeup cleansing wipes offer, is that it encourages lazy cleansing.
Most people believe that by using a wipe to remove their makeup, they have cleansed their skin sufficiently, and they can then proceed to the subsequent steps of their skincare routine.
I feel that this school of thought is further exacerbated by the concept of ‘waterless one-step cleansing’ promoted by the use of micellar water. Many people who use micellar water cleansers do not follow up with another cleanse.
Personally, I don’t believe in nor encourage this, despite all the anecdotal evidence that say that one-step micellar water cleansing is sufficient.
RELATED READING: Do you wash off micellar cleansing water or leave it on? READ HERE
When it comes to using a makeup cleansing wipe as a makeup remover and cleanser, it makes you lazy. You think that wiping it over your skin is sufficient, but often, unless you use 2 or even 3 pieces of these wipes, you are quite literally just smearing the mess all over your skin.
I think of it like wiping a dirty table with a piece of cloth. The cloth will remove much of the dirt and mess on the first pass. But you will notice also how it also smears the dirt over other parts of the table.
What do you do then? You rinse the cloth, and wipe again. This second pass will remove most of the dirt, but again, you are still smearing the remaining dirt around.
You rinse your cloth, and wipe again. And you repeat this, until your table is clean.
Now, how about doing that for your face? We have an easier way. Wipe with a makeup cleansing wipe, if you must, then use a cleansing oil or balm, or any other cleanser, to wash your face. This way, you will properly get rid of the dirt and makeup on your skin without just smearing it over and over, and thinking you’re doing yourself a favour when you aren’t.
Cleansing Wipes can cause over-exfoliation of your skin
How do you remove your makeup with one of these makeup cleansing wipes?
I’d wager that you’d take a piece out of the foil pack, place it in your palm, and then wipe it over your face. You do have to apply a little pressure, to make sure you get your longlasting makeup to budge.
You repeat this, until you are comfortable that you’ve gotten most of your makeup off. Then, you repeat with another piece of wipe.
I have tried some of these wipes, and the truth is that the material of the wipe is a little coarse. Wiping this on your skin over and over does result in exfoliation, and quite possibly, over-exfoliation of your skin, if you do it daily.
How can you tell?
Skin that is irritated from over-exfoliation gets red and sensitive easily, turns flaky, bumpy and dull, and in some cases, breaks out. It is possible to recover from this, but it does take a while.
RELATED READING: How do you recover from sensitive, irritated and over-exfoliated skin? READ HERE
The worst thing you can do after wiping your skin with these makeup cleansing wipes, is to follow up with an acid toner. You are irritating your skin further, not helping it look any better!
Yet, I see this happen a lot, because people don’t realize the stress they place their skin under using a cleansing wipe. Life is already stressful, lets not stress your skin out further LOL! 😛
Makeup Cleansing Wipes put a toll on the environment
Ever wondered where it all goes after you toss it into the trash?
Like sheet masks, cleansing wipes aren’t biodegradable, and will likely sit in a landfill somewhere, years after you’re gone. There are some brands that claim to be biodegradable, but they are naturally more costly, and we won’t know how long it takes to degrade anyway.
Consumers want a product that is sturdy and strong. No one wants to use a wipe that will fall apart the moment you try to wipe it over your skin. They are therefore made from synthetic materials, and we don’t know what happens to them after we’re doing using them, do we?
Now, imagine if you were to go through a minimum of 3 wipes each day (to ensure your skin is properly cleansed). That’s 3 pieces of wipes tossed in the trash, and into a landfill. Now, imagine doing that for the rest of your life.
What alternatives to makeup cleansing wipes should I use then?
Well, a proper cleansing routine for a start would be good.
The best would be to double-cleanse. Start with a cleansing oil or cleansing balm that will remove makeup and dirt from your skin. Use a face flannel to wipe off the cleansing oil or balm before rinsing, for cleaner skin.
RELATED READING: Use a face flannel. It will transform your skin! READ HERE
Then, follow up with a cleanser to ensure that your skin is thoroughly cleansed, before you proceed with the rest of your skincare routine.
It is more work, naturally, but it is ultimately better for your skin than smearing dirt over and around your skin and then calling it a day 😛 After all, won’t you want the rest of your expensive serums and lotions to be properly absorbed onto clean skin, as opposed to one covered with remnants of grime? 😛
Can makeup cleansing wipes ever be a good thing?
Well, yes they can 😛
The key benefit of using makeup cleansing wipes is that they are convenient, and sometimes, we need that convenience.
Makeup cleansing wipes can be useful when travelling, in airplanes or airports, or wherever that you will have problems accessing clean water to do a full cleanse.
Makeup cleansing wipes can also be useful when you want to remove your makeup quickly, while you’re travelling, and then follow up with your cleansing routine.
I have personally used makeup cleansing wipes in these situations, and have found them to be very useful and practical. However, I do try to limit its use to only these situations, and when I can, I do a proper cleanse of my skin.
RELATED READING: A makeup remover wipe I particularly found very effective is this one READ HERE
If you are so minded, you can DIY some makeup cleansing wipes by soaking cotton pads in micellar water and keeping them in a ziplock bag for use when travelling. I find this very helpful for use in planes and on short trips, when you want a refreshing wipe over your skin.
For this reason, I don’t chastise people who tell me they use makeup cleansing wipes. I don’t tell them their face will fall off if they don’t stop using it. I don’t roll my eyes and think they’re ignorant or stupid.
What I do is try to explain why they aren’t and shouldn’t be your only cleansing product. They have their place in our beauty routines, as a convenient makeup remover or cleanser, but there are better alternatives that are better for our skin. Ultimately, don’t we just want the best for our skin?
But if they still persist in using them, then be my guest. I can but offer some advise, the rest is up to them 😉
The key takeaway is this : Do not abuse the convenience of makeup cleansing wipes. They are not a bad thing. But they can be, if you are overly reliant on them as your primary or sole cleansing product.
Do you use makeup cleansing wipes regularly?
I don’t, naturally, but I do not discount their convenience and efficacy! As with everything in life, moderation is key! 🙂
8 comments ... Read or JOIN THE DISCUSSION
I think for the sake of convenient when you are travelling, the wipes are useful. BUT I had bad experience first time using it – the wipes felt too harsh, so hard to remove waterproof makeup even though the wipes claimed for waterproof makeup, skin felt very dry and well, needless to say, that first time scared me to try again huhu. So no, I don’t want to walk down that path anymore LOL.
I would rather bring a small bottle of cleansing oil during travel. However, I rarely put makeup when I’m travelling as I need to stop for my prayers and to save time from all the makeup removing process, I rather not using any makeup – just moisturizer, sunblock and tinted lip balm are enough for fresh look :P.
If I’m on business trip, I still don’t use makeup when I’m travelling but on the official business day, I will bring my little army for my midday prayer – cleansing oil, moisturizer, sunblock, face powder or CC cream, eyeliner, hydrating lipstick and this one product I love, NUDESTIX Nudies Matte Blush & Bronze in Sunset Strip, which I can use as eyeshadow and blush. Probably going to try another shade so I can get the benefit of all three – eyes, cheeks, lips hehe.
I like your tips about bringing personalized wipes, using cotton pads and soak in the micellar water. Maybe I can try that at home as experiment before actually bring to travel.
P/s: I know it’s already February but as this is my first response to your blog … Happy New Year 2020 and Happy Chinese New Year :D. By the way, I’m a new fan of SHU UEMURA because of their cleansing oil so BOBBI BROWN, it was fantastic years with you but I have to move on (tears, hiccups, tissues balling).
Paris B says
Girl, it’s December 2020 and I’m only just replying to comments haha! I hope you’re doing well and keeping save and thank you for leaving a comment and sharing, as always!
I used to use them when I went to the gym straight after work (and did a more thorough cleanse afterwards). Yes, they are convenient, but quite harsh. And wasteful, not biodegradable. They are a huge problem clogging the sewer system!
Haven’t bought them in years (nowadays I live close to my office, so I can go home and do a proper cleanse before hitting the gym). 🙂
Hui Min says
Strongly agree with your opinions, as I myself felt exactly the same as what you said. I always keep a box and a travel pack of cleansing wipes in my home, so that in case water-rationing happens or sudden disruption of water supply, I can still clean my face at least. However, I don’t use them daily, as every time after using cleansing wipes, my skin feels “thin” and with repeated use, irritation happens.
Thanks for sharing this so that I don’t feel like I am the only one feeling this. 🙂
Agree with you totally! They don’t clean well enough and I end up over exfoliating and I repeat again it’s not clean! I also agree it’s useful on the traveling part but I only limit it to just wiping off eyeshadow and lipstick then follow up with the usual oil cleansing and facial wash. I’m a bit OCD on this…can’t compromise.
Margaret Cheong says
Cleansing wipes are drying to the skin not only because of exfloliating properties of the cloth but the surfactant itself. Imagine the water phase evaporated off and what is left on the skin are concentrated and irritating surfactants, making your skin drier. I would recommend rinsing skin with water after using micellar water.
Beauty Bee says
Yep, it’s true – wipes can make you lazy but I am inherently lazy whether I use wipes or not LOL
Luckily, I have enough willpower to not use them every night 😉 I think if you understand that you need to look after your skin more carefully – especially prepping it before bed so it can regenerate well and so your applied skincare products can work to their best – you won’t fall into the trap of using them every night.
In saying that, there’s only one type of cleansing wipes I use – Wotnot face wipes. They are made in Australia, are biodegradable, are the softer wipes you will ever come across and are gentle on your skin! All other wipes feel scratchy and unpleasant to me. I highly recommend trying them Paris, even if you only use them whilst travelling or as ‘back up’ in your handbag and skincare bag. I reviewed them on my blog if anyone is interested 🙂 OH and they are reasonably priced too!
I only use Simple Kind to Skin facial wipes when I’m traveling and I always cleanse my face after that. That’s the only facial wipes I use and stock up whenever I’m in Malaysia ?