Single Use Swap: Why Reusable Make Up Pads Make A Difference And What to Use

The time has come to move away from single-use beauty products so where better to make a sustainable start than with taking off your make up.

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At the end of a busy day, the last thing you want be thinking about when removing your make up before bed is the environmental impact. All you want to do is scrub your skin clean as quickly and effortlessly as possible, dab on some moisturiser and get into your PJs. 

Unfortunately this isn’t as innocent as it sounds, as single-use makeup remover products are a huge planetary polluter. 

The issue is that disposable products are playing a significant role in the amount of waste going to landfill, particularly makeup remover wipes and single-use cotton pads, which are currently the products of choice for most of us makeup wearers. Sound familiar?

There’s no getting away from the fact that single-use products are easy and convenient, which is why we like them so much but read on to discover why they’re such a problem and what sustainable options you can swap to.

Single-use wipes and waste 

According to research by Mintel, 47% of make up wearers regularly use single-use face wipes and pads; with the majority of single-use pads being non-biodegradable and virtually indestructible. 

The majority of single-use make up remover wipes are made up of a significant amount of plastic, which can take hundreds of years to break down. 

Another issue is that many make up wearers tend to flush used cleansing wipes and single-use cotton pads, causing a range of environmental problems and sewer blockages.

To give you a better idea of the size of the tissue issue, Mintel has also found that 93% of sewage pipe blockages are caused by wet wipes. 

Many of these are facial wipes, and as sewer pipes lead to the ocean, this means that these single-use make up removal products are playing a crucial part in ocean pollution, impacting water quality and sea life. 

Why reusable cloths are better

While disposable products may be a more convenient option when it comes to removing our make up, for the sake of the environment – and our skin – reusable facial cleansing cloths are a far better option than their less eco-friendly counterparts. Plus, they’re a far more cost-effective option in the long-run.

Eco-friendly cleansing is better for our skin 

According to makeup artist and beauty expert, Joyce Connor, using reusable makeup pads can be extremely beneficial for your skin. And it costs the cost of your beauty routine. 

She says: “Using a reusable cleansing cloth or make up removal pads to remove make up and cleanse the skin ensures thorough cleansing. A reusable cloth can be used multiple times and rinsed; it’s less abrasive on the skin, and by using tepid water, it’s less likely to cause irritation.”

Joyce goes on to explain that: “Wipes that are impregnated with cleanser will commonly leave a residue on your skin. By using a cloth or pad, you can control the amount of product you use and ensure you remove it all by thoroughly rinsing the cloth or pad. Your skin will be clean and have a light exfoliation, which in turn aids the penetration of other skincare products.”

Make up wipes smear, make up pads clear

Although quick and convenient, make up wipes aren’t a good source of makeup removal. As rather than properly removing make up, they tend to smear the product across the skin, instead of actually lifting it from the skin and removing it completely. Reusable make up removal pads however, when paired with a good cleansing product, actually remove the product from the skin.

Choosing a reusable makeup remover 

No two people have the same skin, which means that our skincare needs are just as unique. 

When it comes to make up cleansers, there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ product or routine; it’s a case of determining what your skin needs and putting a skincare cleansing regime in place that aids your skin’s health. 

A key aspect of doing this is choosing the right reusable cleansing cloth for your skin’s specific needs.

What are the facial cleansing cloth options?

When it comes to selecting the right reusable cleansing cloths, you need to consider the options carefully. It’s crucial to bear in mind that not all reusable cloths are environmentally friendly, for instance, some contain plastic, which it’s best to eliminate from your skincare routine whenever possible. 

The most popular eco-friendly makeup removal cloth options include cloths that are made with 100% cotton, such as flannel rounds, crocheted cloths, and bamboo cotton pads, in addition to plastic-free microfibre cloths. 

When selecting a reusable cleansing cloth, it’s crucial to pick a product that is easy to use and care for – the best cloths are machine washable at 30 degrees.

Cotton makeup removal products

Take a look below for what each type of reusable make up removal product works best for:

  • Cotton makeup removal products are great for all skin types.
  • Crocheted cotton pads are best for gently exfoliating the skin while removing makeup and tend to work well with an oil or cream cleanser.
  • Cotton rounds work in a similar way to the crocheted pads but are not as exfoliating. They tend to be best for normal and dry skin. 
  • Bamboo cleansing cloths are extremely absorbent and are fantastic for sensitive skin. 
  • Microfibre cloths are ideal for allergy-prone skin, as they only require water to remove makeup, instead of needing to pair with a cleansing product which may cause a skin reaction. They are also fantastic for anyone who is short of time and tend to work well for all skin types.

Reusable cleansing cloth brands

Now that we’ve established which types of cotton cloth are most suitable for each type of cleansing, here are some of my favourite tried and tested products.

Eco Panda Bamboo Cotton Pads 

These super soft cotton rounds are designed to be used once (and then washed) alongside make up cleanser.

The material is supple and durable – the fibres of the material work well to capture and remove make up from the skin, without the need for rigorous scrubbing. These little bamboo rounds are small but mighty, easily removing makeup with a few quick wipes. 

Easy to clean, the pads come with a convenient laundry bag to make the washing process easier. After use, pop them into the laundry bag and once the bag is full, place it in the washing machine with some eco-friendly detergent and wash at 30 degrees. 

Rating: 8/10

Magn!tone Wipe Out Bamboo Microfibre Cleansing Cloth 

The Magni!tone Wipe Out cloth is a plastic-free, microfibre cleansing cloth that helps to remove makeup with just water. 

Ideal for allergy-prone skin, this microfibre cleansing cloth can remove makeup – including waterproof makeup – with just a little warm water. It might sound too good to be true, but it really does work wonders when it comes to makeup removal. 

This surprisingly soft cleansing cloth simply needs to be wet with warm water and can then be used to remove an entire face of makeup. Some scrubbing is required, particularly for stubborn eye makeup, but aside from that, it’s quick and easy to use. 

The large size of this cloth means that you can get two to three uses out of it each time, before throwing it in the washing machine with a small amount of detergent on a 30 degree wash. 

Rating: 9/10

Crochet Makeup Cleansing Pads 

Etsy is full of homemade makeup cleansing pads, but few are as eco-friendly – or as pretty – as Baby Heffalump Crochet. Made from 100% organic cotton these cleansing pads can be used alongside make up cleanser to easily cleanse the skin. 

While extremely soft and durable, these crocheted cleansing pads offer a fantastic way to gently exfoliate the skin as part of your daily facial cleansing process. For acne-prone skin, these makeup removal pads work wonderfully well, with the fibres gently cleansing the skin while helping to unclog blocked pores and reduce the occurrence of breakouts and blemishes. 

After use, these 100% cotton crocheted make up removal pads can be popped in the washing machine with a small amount of eco-friendly detergent and washed at 30 degrees. 

Rating: 8/10

Live In The Light Facial Rounds

Made of 100% cotton flannel, these facial rounds from Live In The Light are gentle on the skin while being highly absorbent. This means that when it comes to removing make up, these pads are quick and easy to use. 

While great at removing stubborn makeup residue, these facial rounds are not rough or harsh on the skin – they’re extremely gentle. This ensures that they don’t cause skin redness or soreness to occur, making them ideal for sensitive skin. 

Something to note is that once they have been washed the first time, these facial rounds tend to become more absorbent, so it may be worth washing them before your first use. 

Rating: 8/10

To sum up, when it comes to helping to fight climate change, one small change – such as swapping from single-use makeup remover wipes or pads to reusable ones – can make a significant difference.

Here’s a bonus one for you:

Conscious House Super Soft Facecloth

These facial cloths are super soft and made from 100% plant-fibre. Completely compostable and natural, they are pretty too thanks to their hand-knitted design. 

They are made from 100% fine Eucalyptus yarn. Perfect for using with a cleanser or bar soap to wash that make up off. 

This cloth will give your conscience a bit of a cleanse as well, since 10% of Conscious House profits goes to the Seed Madagascar and Mind charities.

Keen to keep your beauty routine green?

Check out these Biodegradable Natural Beauty Brands that are Giving Back to the Planet

Read more about the zero waste beauty movement