Makeup Remover Wipes Now Come With More Plastic

A woman wipes make up from her face with a make up cloth remover.

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All because people are too lazy to find a sink.

Makeup remover wipes are a seriously uncool addition to one's makeup bag. They are notoriously bad for the environment, made of non-biodegradable plastic fibers, and are key players in catastrophic sewer buildups, like the giant 'fatberg' in London's sewer last year that was as big as 11 double-decker buses. They litter beaches around the world, with the Marine Conservation Society estimating an average of 35 wipes found on every kilometre of beach in the UK.

Now With More Plastic

A woman pulling a make up remover tissue from plastic container.

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If there were only one thing that could make makeup remover wipes fall even lower on my 'impressed by' scale, that would be adding more plastic. Well, guess what Neutrogena has just done? Its classic Makeup Remover Cleansing Towelettes – which I bought for a hot minute back in university until I realized how awful they are – are now available in individually-wrapped singles. So, what the package should really say is, Now with more plastic!

For some baffling reason, the beauty editors at Refinery29 think this is good idea. I don't know where they've been hiding, but they clearly haven't got the memo that plastic is, well, a wee bit problematic these days. Samantha Sasso wrote,

"Neutrogena just went ahead and did the one thing physically possible to make these bestsellers even better: wrap them in single-serving packets, just like one of those Ghirardelli chocolates with the caramel inside. Going to the gym? Camping? Impromptu sleepover with a Bumble date? The days of hauling around a whole 25-pack of wipes in your purse are over — now, you can get the same hydrating cleanse without the added bulk."

Clearly Sasso and I have radically different ideas of what could make this product better. I'd probably start with "not existing," followed by a more reasonable "way less plastic."

Makeup remover wipes serve no other purpose than to remove makeup quickly and easily, without the addition of water. Now, as a woman who wears eye makeup every day, I totally understand the allure of being able to remove one's makeup almost instantaneously, but can we please have an honest conversation about how hard it is to find a water source on a daily basis to wash one's face? It's not.

The gym has a sink. Your "impromptu sleepover with a Bumble date" probably involves a sink too. Even your campground has a sink, or at the very least you have a water bottle you can splash on your face. You had to brush your teeth, after all, and how did you do that?

Convenience comes at a price and, knowing what I do about plastic contamination, makeup remover wipes do not belong in our world, especially because there are other great options out there. But you have to be willing to walk to a sink or open a (reusable) bottle of water to use them.

Alternatives to Makeup Remover Wipes

1. Bar soap: It works wonders. I've given up on all makeup removers because they're an additional step I can't be bothered with. Instead I wash my eyes with a bit of olive oil soap. Makeup instantly gone.

A black woman washes her face with bar soap.

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2. Facial cleanser: The purpose of facial cleanser is to cleanse one's face, and that includes removing makeup. Forget the makeup remover and just give your face a good wash. Right now I'm loving the citrus scent of Plaine Products' face wash that comes in a refillable metal container.

A teenage girl washes her face in the sink.

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3. Reusable cotton pads: Make your own from old flannel sheets and wash after a couple uses. Use sweet almond oil, coconut oil, witch hazel, or makeup remover. You could pre-soak and put them a jar for later in the day.

Cotton flannel clothes in a pile.

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4. Washcloth: Pack a small flannel washcloth in a waterproof bag or glass jar in your purse, and you'll be able to freshen up your face at any point.

A woman uses a washcloth towel to clean her face.

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5. Microfibre pad: I'm not a fan of microfibre pads in general, since they're plastic, but reusable is still preferable to disposable. Enjo makes a nifty Eye Pad that one of my friends swears by; it removes all eye makeup only using water. The Mitty Mini by Take My Face Off is another decent option.

Microfiber towels on a white wood deck.

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6. Sea sponge: Buy an all-natural compostable sponge for removing makeup with soap and water. It washes out easily and dries quickly.

Sea sponges in bulk.

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7. Disposable cotton pads: Heck, even these are a better idea than makeup remover wipes. Buy organic cotton because it's way better on the environment.

A young Asian woman removes make up with a cotton pad.

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8. Sleep with your makeup on. GASP! Wash your face when you get home. (Don't do this on a regular basis.)

A woman washes her face with a cotton pad at a sink.

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