How To Remove Make-Up More Sustainably

Rebecca Jeffreys shares the best ways to remove your make-up sustainably with the least amount of waste (or none at all). 

I’m sure that when you take your make-up off at the end of the day, the last thing you’ll be thinking about is what effect your cotton pad or make-up wipe has on the environment. If you have a routine, it goes without second thought – the same way you discard your toothpaste tubes after each use, it’s a habit. But we can no longer turn away from the fact that these small conveniences come at a cost to our planet. 

Most wipes contain polyester, polypropylene, cotton, wood pulp, rayon fibres and a cocktail of plastics, which mean they’re non-biodegradable and are essentially bad for your skin. Research has shown that make-up wipes tend to smear around whatever makeup and debris is already present on your face and allows it to become a breeding ground for bacteria. So removing your make-up with a wipe may seem like you’re doing your skin a favour, but in reality it often leads to clogged pores and breakouts. 

If that doesn’t put you off, then how about the fact that it can take some make-up wipes up to 100 years to break down in landfill? Seriously, flushing your wet-wipe down a toilet could have the same impact on ocean life as microbeads. This is increasingly concerning as the 2017 Great British Beach Clean, which was conducted by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), revealed that there was a 94% increase in the number of wet wipes found on UK beaches. 

The BBC also reported that wet-wipes make up 93% of sewage blocks in the UK. They are especially present in fatbergs (something that occurs in sewers as a build-up of wipes, feminine hygiene products, fats and oils, and toilet paper). In fact, one particular fatberg recovered in April 2018 contained 5,453 wet-wipes. 

Heads were turned when MiCellar cleansing water arrived on the scene as it seemed like the best way to escape the preservatives and harsh chemicals found in make-up wipes. But MiCellar comes hand-in-hand with cotton pads, which, if not organic cotton, are likely to pollute rivers, damage local wildlife and severely impact our ecosystems. 

1.3 billion wipes are used daily and it’s up to us to make sure they don’t pollute our seas and rivers or end up in landfill. Swapping your single-use, disposable wipes and cotton pads for a more sustainable alternative will mean you’re making a difference, both for your skin, your bank account and the planet. It’s time that we cared for the planet as much as we do for our skin. 

So how can we reduce our impact altogether? Luckily for us, finding sustainable alternatives has never been easier. See below for our recommendations: 

ImseVimse Reusable Cotton Cleansing Pads

These organic cotton cleansing pads are reusable and suitable for vegans. They are also Oeko-Tex standard 100 certified, meaning that they are free from harmful residual chemicals.

Available for £12 at

Organic Cotton Facial Rounds

These reusable cotton pads are claimed to be chemical free and come as a pack of 10. The pads come accompanied with a small mesh bag so you can wash along with your laundry. 

Available for £12.95 at


Simply Gentle Organic Cotton Wool Pads

These organic cotton pads were the first to be certified as organic by the Soil Association and meet strict SA8000 ethical and social standards. 

Available for £2.29 at

Makeup Eraser

This isn’t your average cloth; this is a cloth made from specially knitted polyester / silk fibre which creates a hydro-mechanical process that breaks down oils and residue found on our skin. The cloth is claimed to be made without chemicals or cleansers, and is equal to 3600 wipes! 

Available for £17 at


Organic Muslin Face Cloth

This lightweight cloth is finely woven from organic cotton and is unbleached and undyed. The cloth is Soil Association certified, Vegetarian Society approved, and has Ethical Shopping accreditation.

Available for £3 at


If you can’t avoid single-use wipes, here are a few less damaging options. And remember, when you have finished with your wipe – don’t flush it away! Dispose of it with your household waste.

Yes To Primrose Oil 2-in-1 Facial Wipe

Yes To wipes are high on our list as they’re made up of 98% of natural ingredients, are cruelty-free (meaning no animal-testing) and FSC certified (meaning they are made from responsible sourced wood that is not contributing to deforestation). The wipes, formulated with primrose oil instead of water, are compostable (under the right conditions) and can be used on all skin types. 

Available from


RMS Coconut Oil Wipes

These cleansing wipes are made up of organic, unrefined coconut oil. The manufacturing process does not interfere with the raw coconut oil, which allows each living nutrient and enzyme to moisturise the skin. They are also 100% compostable! 

Available from

Burt’s Bees Sensitive Facial Towelettes

These wipes are made up of 99.1% natural materials (including extracts of cotton, rice, and aloe). The wipes are fragrance-free, hypoallergenic, allergy-tested and dermatologist tested, which makes them great for sensitive skin. 

Available from


Lancer Biodegradable Wipes

Lancer produce oil-free, pH balanced, biodegradable wipes that are gentle on the skin. The wipes are made from non-irritating Bamboo fibres and infused with calming Aloe, Cucumber and Marshmallow Extracts including Vitamin E.  

The Body Shop Vitamin E Gentle Facial Cleansing Wipes

These wipes are an all-rounder: they cleanse, tone and moisturise your face. The biodegradable wipes contain ethical Community Trade olive oil from Italy, which allows for a smooth finish. 

Available from

Just getting started with natural beauty? Read Sjaniël Turell’s guide.

If you’re looking to whiten your teeth sustainably but are unsure how, Venetia Falconer has an easy and natural diy recipe for you. 

Try more DIY natural beauty ideas with our #SelfCareSunday recipes