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It’s hard to remember a time before disposable makeup wipes. Unfortunately, we’re going to be reminded of their existence for a long, long time to come.
They’re ubiquitous in the makeup aisle, but attitudes are slowly changing toward the wasteful (though undeniably convenient) wipes. Most brands’ wipes are not biodegradable, so all the disposable wipes going into landfills are not really going away.
“The biggest environmental problem with makeup remover wipes is the sheer volume,” toxicologist Diana Felton, of the Hawaii Department of Health, told Real Simple. “One group estimates that 20 million pounds of single-use wipes are disposed of every day in the U.S.” (Not all of them are makeup wipes, but they’re one of the culprits.)
Beyond that, single-use wipes frequently end up going down the toilet. They don’t break down in the pipes like toilet paper, leading to clogged home plumbing and city sewers.
Plus, Felton pointed out, the ingredients used in many popular brands — like artificial fragrances — can be irritating to skin — and those chemicals eventually leach into the ground.
Those are some pretty solid reasons to consider switching up your beauty routine. Luckily, the skincare market has plenty of alternatives that reduce environmental impacts. And they work just as well as disposable wipes.
Here are a few of our product picks that will keep your skin — and your conscience — clean:
The same thing that’s true for, say, grocery bags, is true for makeup wipes: One of the easiest ways to cut back on waste is to invest in reusables. This 20-pack of soft, cotton-and-bamboo makeup remover pads comes in a tidy canister that looks cute on your bathroom counter. And dig this — it also comes with a mesh laundry bag, so you can use a wipe, toss it in the bag, then wash a big batch of pads at once. No waste!
These reusable makeup remover pads have a 4.6 out of 5-star rating from more than 34,000 global ratings.
These makeup remover pads are similar to the ones above, but with two different textures for different uses. The “velvety soft” side is good for use on delicate areas, like eyelids and lips; the other side works for applying toner or facial oil. They come in black because white stains so easily with makeup.
This set of 12 comes with a nifty bamboo container for storage and a laundry bag, too. They have a 4.6 out of 5-star rating from more than 1,800 customer reviews.
These microfiber rounds work with Garnier’s micellar water cleanser to lift off dirt and makeup. Like other reusable makeup remover pads, these can go in the washing machine, or you can hand-wash after each use. You get three per package.
Amazon reviewer Amanda Stefancin is a fan, calling them a “game changer” in a 5-star review: “This is a money saver and removes makeup very well with the micellar water,” she wrote. “Easy to wash and reuse! Highly recommend!” OK then!
If you’re feeling more square than round, these reusable cloths are for you. They’re 5 inches by 5 inches square — tiny stain-resistant and fray-proof washcloths, essentially — and come in packs of six or 12. A little loop sewn into the edge of each cloth lets you hang them up where they’re needed most. And yep, they’re machine washable.
These have a 4.7 out of 5-star rating from more than 3,700 Amazon users. Fans like that they are soft and work well for sensitive skin.
This is the classic method, one your grandmother would recognize. Swipe cold cream on your face, give it a good rub and wipe off with a washcloth. Done! The extra-nice thing about cold cream is its gentleness — there’s no dried-out, tight feeling after use.
Almost 11,000 Walmart purchasers have given this product 4.1 out of 5 stars. User tracy gives it a full 5 stars, writing, “I will continue to buy as long as they make it … Removes makeup easier than anything else I’ve ever tried without drying your face out.” No wasteful wipes required!