The Problem with Makeup Wipes? Pt 1

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The other day I came across two tweets that (to paraphrase) were discussing how harmful makeup wipes can be. I’ve said here on the blog a number of times over the years that some makeup wipes (particularly the ones that aren’t saturated in product) tend to irritate my skin so I can understand some who say they might be harmful to the skin. I was also chatting with my homey Trina from The Baby Shopaholic who just recently hosted a Tata Harper event who said that the specialist at the event suggested using cleansing oil instead of makeup wipes for many of the same reasons. So while I was washing my hair last night, I randomly thought—you know, what, let’s make this a quick blog post to discuss. I also wanted to have some other experts I know chime in BUT I also knew I wouldn’t be able to get answers from all of them by the time I wanted to post this, so expect a part two to this topic soon :)

Here are the tweets I spotted that sparked the idea for this post.

Now as I mentioned, I personally find that most makeup wipes irritate my facial skin. I still love having them though because they come in handy when I do makeup swatch pictures and I need to take makeup off my arm so I can put MORE makeup on my arm…lol. They also come in handy when I’m filming makeup demos back to back and I don’t really have the time nor leisure to do my regular makeup removal method. When it comes to removing my makeup, I do prefer to use a cleansing oil to loosen up and remove my makeup and then I follow up with a gel-based cleanser (this two-step process is also known as double cleansing—sometimes I may even follow the second cleanse with a cotton pad saturated with micellar water to make sure I get all the makeup and dirt off—I especially do this when I’m wearing my hair straight and don’t want my edges to revert). Using a cleansing oil is MUCH more gentle on my skin and I find it gets makeup off easier and more effectively.

See reviews on some cleansing oils I’ve tried in the past here.

The problem for me with makeup wipes is when they aren’t saturated enough—which I find a lot of wipes aren’t—I did love the Almay wipes but it seems as if they changed them because they aren’t as emollient as I was accustomed to. I used to also swear by Ole Henriksen Truth to Go Wipes and racked up quite the amount of VIB points buying them at Sephora, but then I started using cleansing oils and didn’t really need them. Garnier sent over a few packages of their micellar water wipes and I do like those because they don’t irritate my skin, but I am in too deep with cleansing oils to switch. So when wipes aren’t saturated enough for me, they tend to pull and drag which makes my skin irritated. In worst case scenarios, my skin feels hot to the touch and inflamed. Sometimes that inflammation can lead to tiny breakouts and I also suspect that there might also be tiny cuts in my skin after using an irritating makeup wipe and can you imagine how that could feel (and possibly look) if I were to put some sort of active ingredient on after that?!?! YIKES. My skin isn’t particularly sensitive—I can use almost anything and it won’t irritate me, but my skin doesn’t like friction. It also reacts in a similar way when my face touches someone else’s beard or mustache (and that’s pretty tragic because I looooove me a man in a beard…lol). I’m hoping to build a tolerance to the facial hair friction thing because I’m going to need to cuddle up with my future salt and pepper bearded second husband…lol.

In instances where I need to remove my makeup but it’s not quite time to do my whole cleansing routine (i.e. if I come home in the afternoon or early evening from an event and don’t want to be working around the house with makeup on), I’ll use a cotton pad saturated with micellar water to remove my makeup. I like this because I can control the saturation so my skin isn’t irritated from the friction of the cotton pad gliding across my skin. Then later when it’s actually time for my skincare routine, I’ll wash my face and continue with the next steps in my regimen.

But just because some makeup wipes irritate MY SKIN, doesn’t mean it’ll irritate yours, of course. If your favorite makeup wipes are doing right by you, who am I to try and pry them from your well-manicured hands? BUT I will say that I want to make sure you’re not using them as a substitute for washing your face. Makeup wipes cannot replace facial cleansing. For one, you’re not going to get every trace of makeup off with a wipe—that residue could possibly lead to breakouts. Not to mention, if your skin isn’t being properly cleansed, your skincare treatment products may not be able to work to their full potential.

Stay tuned for part two!

Do you use makeup wipes? What are your favorite makeup removal products? Tell me all about it in the comments!

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About Danielle

A former finance girl, Danielle is a New York City based freelance writer and fashion and beauty expert. She's a Hofstra University and Fashion Institute of Technology grad with an obsession with fashion and beauty which she loves to tell you all about every weekday on her award-winning blog. Think of her as your style and beauty entourage all wrapped up into one bubbly brown package. Danielle's work and expertise can be found in print and across the web in Cosmopolitan for Latinas,, and more! She's also appeared as an on-air style and beauty expert on The Real, CBS New York's "The Couch" and WPIX11's Savvy Shopper segment.
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7 Responses to The Problem with Makeup Wipes? Pt 1

  1. Chi says:

    I use baby wipes. I try not to wear too much makeup but when I do I remove with baby wipes when I am too tired for anything else. Looking forward to part 2!

  2. Anonymous says:

    I keep a sample pack of the Neutrogena or Simple makeup wipes on me at all times. Baby wipes, although hypoallergenic is not made to remove makeup – and you’ll end up using quite a lot for what one actual makeup wipe could have removed.
    Although you’ll find makeup remover wipes on me, I am an avid user of Tatcha’s Cleansing Oil. It is my holy grail and although the price is quite steep, it will last a very long time. Yes, I’ve tried the Boscia, Clinique, Skin & Co, and a few others including the good ol’ fashion Almond Oil. NOTHING compares to it.

    • Chi says:

      True. I do use a bunch. But I always have them on hand so it is convenient. I just cannot afford to spend a ton on makeup/skincare and I don’t wear makeup often enough to justify that purchase. I splurge on my moisturizer, serum and eye cream. Origins works for me – always has.

  3. You are so speaking to me! I have the same issues with makeup wipes so I usually saturatethrm with micellar water. Now I see that’s a waste of money and I should just use cotton rounds instead. I’m going to pick up a cleansing oil today and give this double cleansing method a try. Thank you!

  4. Susan Mejeh says:

    I’m totally with you when it comes to dry makeup wipes – I hate them. However, I really like the Clinique Take the Day Off Makeup Micellar Cleansing Towelettes for Face & Eyes. It may have to do with the fact that they have Micellar Water infused in the wipes. They are probably the most gentle wipes that I have used. I’m also loving the Yes to Carrots Charcoal cleansing wipes. They are even less expensive and get the job done. I rarely ever use a makeup wipe as my only method for removing my makeup unless I’m especially tired.

  5. Arnette says:

    I stopped using wipes ages ago but now I have stopped using cotton rounds and balls and use reusable cotton pads I bought in Europe (also on Etsy etc) because of environmental reasons. Ponds sheets gave me an allergic reaction but I’m trying to minimize my footprint in every way and send less to the landfill. :)

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