by Suzanne Wentley
This article includes affiliate links.
If you want to get me started, ask me my opinion about the trend of single-use coffee pods for people who fill up landfills for a minute of convenience. Yes, it’s just a small piece of plastic, but you’re fooling yourself if you don’t think it adds up over time.
It’s the same with makeup remover cloths. I know they’re all the rage. I travel a lot and visit lots of friends, and many of them rely on those smooth, gentle cloths to cleanse and refresh their skin. They’ve integrated these throwaway wipes into their daily beauty routine, and I get it: We all need a healthy cleansing regime to feel and look our best.
But just as reusable single-use coffee filters make great coffee, you simply don’t need disposable products to have healthy, radiant skin! Try using reusable pads, towels, clothes, or wands to clean the makeup off your face and do your part to reverse the trend toward a throwaway culture.
The Problem with Disposable Wipes
Disposable wipes look a lot like toilet paper and tissues, but they’re a totally different thing. These wipes may have some paper, cotton, hemp, or other natural materials in them, but that’s not all. Often, they contain polyester, polypropylene, rayon, and other manmade stuff.
Those plastic-y ingredients help to make those wipes soft, but they also stop them from biodegrading. That means just one of those wipes could possibly sit in a landfill longer than you’re alive — all for just a minute of cleansing.
Sure, some disposable wipes are labeled as biodegradable or compostable — but they are problematic, too. First, the packaging is almost always made of plastic, which obviously isn’t compostable and often isn’t even recyclable.
Second, few towns have adequate facilities to allow for the breakdown process. You need UV rays hitting your wipe for weeks or even years on end for it to biodegrade, and that won’t happen when you pile your trash into a plastic bag that’s thrown into a heap. The same goes for pure cotton pads and anything else you throw into the garbage. I once visited a landfill and watched as they extracted a 30-year-old newspaper from its depths. I could read every word.
Maybe you think you can flush your wipes down the toilet and the waste problem is solved. Think again! Whether you’re connected to a municipal sewer or have your own septic system, you’ll be creating major clogs at some point. These things just don’t disappear, I’m sorry to tell you.
Alternatives to Consider for Clean Beauty
So, what is a makeup-lover to do? Get creative, of course. There are many ways to prioritize clean beauty without filling up the landfill. Try some of these alternatives.
Reusable Makeup Remover Pads
Often made completely from washable, natural fibers, reusable makeup remover pads are as close as you can get to replacing your wipes. For example, Greenzla Reusable Makeup Remover Pads are made of bamboo and come in a pack of 20. Instead of throwing them out when you’ve removed your makeup, you can tuck them into their little laundry bag and toss them in the washing machine.
Face Halo also has a great version of a reusable, microfiber makeup remover. These soft pads are about three times the size of a regular cotton disposable pad and can be washed 200 times. You’ll notice they are absorbent and gentle on the skin, making them a perfect pairing to any makeup remover or cleanser.
Muslin cloths have a different feel than makeup remover pads, but you can still toss them in with the towels after a few uses. What’s especially nice about this option is that the cloth isn’t silky smooth on purpose: You’ll gently exfoliate your skin as you remove your makeup at night.
Karlling offers a nice option made without harsh dyes, and they come in a pack of 10. Use these like you would a regular washcloth, but keep in mind that the cotton will shrink after the wash. Don’t throw them in the dryer and stretch them out before each use.
EVE LOM also makes a muslin cleansing cloth, which is designed to promote blood circulation in the skin. Apply a little cleanser to the cloth and massage your skin in a circular direction for clean makeup removing.
For something totally different, consider investing in a silicone cleansing wand. While this won’t work so well on removing eye makeup, a vibrating wand can do wonders for the rest of your complexion.
Check out the PMD Clean Facial Cleansing Device, which vibrates at 7,000 beats per minute to deep-clean your face and firm your skin. To use it, you wet your face and apply your cleanser before going to town with the waterproof wand. Best of all, it won’t add to the laundry pile.
Makeup Remover Towels
Some products don’t require any cleanser, which can be a major money-saver in a clean beauty regime. The Makeup Eraser is a microfiber towel that comes with rave reviews on Amazon. All you need is warm water, and this towel will remove everything from waterproof mascara to lipstick. You’ll need to wash it a few times a week, depending on where you are on the drag queen to hippie makeup spectrum.
If you prefer slipping on a mitt for the job, check out the Magic Mitt Makeup Remover. Since it doesn’t also require a cleanser, you won’t have to worry about disrupting your skin’s natural pH balance. To clean, just wash it and hang it up. When it’s dry, it’s sterile. It’ll last as long as a washcloth if cared for properly!
Stop Short-Term Thinking, Start Long-Term Beauty
As anyone knows, beauty starts with health — and your own health is directly connected to the health of the Earth. You can care for your skin as well as the environment by simply switching from disposable wipes or pads to a more sustainable product to remove your makeup every night.
It doesn’t have to cost you any more money, and you’ll reduce landfill waste. After all, caring for the world around you looks beautiful on you!
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