Best face wipe alternatives and make-up removers, according to a dermatologist

Maisie BovingdonShopping writer
Looking for an alternative to face wipes? Dermatologist Dr. Rabia shares her favourite cleansers [Getty]
Looking for an alternative to face wipes? Dermatologist Dr. Rabia shares her favourite cleansers [Getty]

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Face wipes are a popular choice for removing make-up. In fact, they’re so popular that sales have doubled in recent years.

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But, with growing awareness about the negative impact they have on the environment and our skin, shoppers are looking for environmentally friendly alternatives.

Over the last year alone there has been a spike of up to 450% in people searching for biodegradable and reusable face wipes on Google, as well as other cleansers and make-up removers.

Why are face wipes so bad for our skin?

While they may appear to remove make-up remnants, face wipes spread the dirt and grime around your face, and impact on the skin’s barrier.

They also leave a chemical residue on the skin’s surface, which irritates the skin, says dermatologist Dr Rabia Malik, from 51 Harley Street and Harrods Wellness Clinic.

“Face wipes contain preservatives (to prevent micro-organisms from contaminating the wipes) which can cause irritation,” she tells Yahoo UK.

“The repeated rubbing of wipes can also lead to low level inflammation which can contribute to lines and wrinkles and also stimulate melanocytes, potentially leading to pigmentation.

“Face wipes are inadequate cleansers as they tend to move dirt, bacteria or make-up around the face, instead of removing it.”

Baby wipes are also used to remove make-up, but should also be avoided, says Dr. Rabia.

“They often contain chemicals which should be avoided when cleansing skin on the face.

“Plus, baby wipes are inadequate for removing makeup as they do the same thing as face wipes; they simply move makeup around the face rather than remove it which can cause irritation and breakouts.”

She advises avoiding products containing mineral oils and sulfate, but recommends trying glycerin or shea butter in a cleanser to remove make-up without drying out the skin’s natural oils.

“Try to avoid mineral oil derived ingredients such as: propylene glycol, butylene glycol, parraffin, petrolatum and mineral oil which can clog pores and lead to break outs”, Dr Rabia explains.

“The most important thing to look out for is a sulfate-free cleanser because this can cause irritation. Also, avoid mineral oil derived ingredients, which can clog pores and lead to break outs.

“I recommend looking for moisturising ingredients such as glycerin or shea butter in your cleanser; this will help to prevent your cleanser from stripping your skin’s natural barrier leading to dryness.”

Why are face wipes bad for the environment?

The Marine Conservation Society has revealed there has been a 50% increase in the number of wet wipes found on British beaches alone since 2013, which equates to a 400% rise over the last decade.

Some wipes contain plastic, or polyesters, which take over hundreds of years to break down. Furthermore, the indestructible materials can’t decompose and often sit in landfill sites for up to a century.

Face wipes, baby wipes and wet wipes are often discarded down the toilet, which can clog the sewers and pollute the oceans, which is harmful to the eco-system.

How to best clean and protect your face

Three separate products are all you need, says Dr Rabia. An eye make-up remover, an SPF and moisturiser, and a cleanser you use twice a day.

“In my opinion a good hydrating cleanser should be used morning and evening to ensure skin is thoroughly cleansed,” she says.

“And for those who wear make-up, a double cleanse in the evening (washing skin twice) will ensure all makeup and residue is removed from the skin.

“I recommend pure jojoba oil to remove eye make-up - such as MV organic jojoba. While, antioxidant or hyaluronic acid serum will protect and hydrate your skin.”

From cleansers to suit all skin types, beauty tools for a deeper cleanse, to moisturisers and SPF, Dr. Rabia has shared her ultimate must-haves so you can ditch face wipes.

Best expert-approved face wipe alternatives

Cosmedix Purity Clean | £42.03 from Skin City

Cosmedix Benefit Clean Gentle Cleanser | £42.03 from Skin City

Medik8 Calmwise Soothing Cleanser | £24.99 from Amazon

MV Organic Gentle Cream Cleanser | £39 from Cult Beauty


FOREO Luna Mini 3 | £139 from Look Fantastic

Other expert-approved skincare essentials

Heliocare 360° Sun Protection Gel Oil-Free SPF 50 | £20.69 from Amazon

Gentle Cleanser and Make-up Remover | £20 from Green People

Epionce Daily Shield Tinted SPF50 Lotion | £31.75 from SkinStore

SkinCeuticals Mineral Radiance UV Defense SPF 50 | £41 from LookFantastic

Pai Skincare + NET SUSTAIN Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil | £24 from Net-A-Porter

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