Makeup wipes are actually really bad for your skin

Did you know you're supposed to rinse your face after you use one?? Here's why.

By: Natasha Harding

For years we've been told that one of the best things you can do for your skin is take off all of your makeup before bed. And the easier it is to remove said makeup, the more likely you are to actually do it, right?

That's why face wipes are a total LIFESAVER: they're super quick and easy to use. Plus, they work like a gem when you're travelling... or do they? Short answer: No.

In mindblowingly crap news it turns out that, rather than saving you from blemishes and premature aging, face wipes might actually be causing pimples and wrinkles.

In our totally justified rage, we went out to get the 411 on everything you need to know about face wipes, and what you can use instead.

Why are face wipes bad for your skin?

In a nutshell, the biggest problem with face wipes is the chemicals they contain.

"Face wipes are full of chemicals like stabilisers, solublisers and emulsifiers which are all ingredients that work to remove stuff from your skin, but they're only useful if you remove the back off again like a regular cleanser would," Sydney-based dermal therapist Isabella Loneragan, from The Dermal Diary, explains.

"With a regular cleanser your cleanse your face, and then either wash the product off in the shower or with a warm face cloth. But with face wipes you're wiping away the dirt from the day, and replacing it with all these chemicals, which are supposed to remove the product, but then they're left on your skin as a film. This can lead to issues like sensitivity, dryness, photo-sensitivity and reactions like rashes, dermatitis or eczema."


"Face wipes also effectively cause breakouts because they only remove about 50 percent of your makeup. This means you're then sleeping with the other 50 percent of your makeup still on, which clogs your pores. If you are using products or face wipes with alcohol in them (which a lot of them do), that causes photo-sensitivity, and that can cause free radical damage which will cause an onset of wrinkles later on down the line."

Skin perils aside, face wipes are also pretty shoddy for the environment, so there's another reason to give them the flick.

What should you be using instead?

Loneragan is a firm believer in taking time out of your day for a skincare routine, however simple.

"I always tell my clients, you can't spend expect your skin to look tip-top all the time if you aren't prepared to spend some time on it... But if you really don't have time to cleanse on the go, you could take a little bottle of micellar water and just use a few of those little eye pads to remove your makeup."

Is it ever okay to use face wipes?

While face wipes are pretty bad for your skin, removing your makeup with one is still better than sleeping in it until you have micellar water.

"Definitely don't leave your makeup on, it will age you several times faster than taking it off even with the chemicals," Loneragan says.

"The only time I'd really recommend my clients use makeup wipes is if you are camping, and you have no access to running water. Literally no access. If you have access to running water, then there is no excuse — you should be washing it off your face properly."

Are there any tricks for minimising the damage caused by face wipes?

If you find yourself in desperate times and really need to use a makeup wipe, here's a trick you can use to help protect your skin.

"If you've got makeup wipes and your bottle of water, then remove your makeup with the makeup wipes first, and then rinse the makeup wipe off with the bottle of water and then remove again," Loneragan explains. "That way, you're rinsing the chemicals off your face."

Are some face wipes better than other?

"They're all not great", Loneragan says. But if you're in dire straits and need to buy some, make sure you look for brands that have the least amount of irritants like chemicals and alcohol.

"I bought the Purity range face wipes at an airport once. I went through all the ranges at the pharmacy there and looked at all the ingredients on the back, and Purity has the least amount of negative impact in chemicals that I could find."

Purity Facial Cleansing Cloths, $19 at Adore Beauty.

Here are a few other alcohol and chemical-free options to have on your radar:

Simple Cleansing Facial Wipes, $7.50 at Priceline.

Burts Bees Facial Cleansing Towlettes, $10 at Priceline.

Wotnot Travel Wipes, $5 at Flora & Fauna.