7 best biodegradable face wipes to remove your make-up
Take off the day in a few swipes – without harming the planet in the process
Skincare purists are quick to berate facial-cleansing wipes, often dismissing them as the lazy girl’s choice when it comes to removing make-up and cleansing your skin. Environmentalists hate them too, rightly concerned about clogging landfill sites and polluting water supplies.
While we agree that a full-on cleansing routine is the way to go for a spot-free, glowing and healthy look that will serve you well in older age, it’s not always possible to spend 30 minutes in the bathroom with all your go-to products on hand.
These wipes all do the job well enough to remove full make-up, with many coming good on claims of three-in-one cleansing, toning and moisturising as well as blemish-fighting and anti-ageing effects. Better still, they are all biodegradable, so you can tumble into bed after a night on the town with a fresh face and a clear conscience – at least when it comes to your skincare…
1. Yes To Primrose Oil 2-in-1 Facial Wipes: £4.99 for 30, Look Fantastic
Californian natural beauty brand Yes To’s refreshing compostable face wipes are a saviour after a day in an over-heated office (tip: pop them in the fridge when home to keep them cool). Formulated with multi-tasking primrose oil instead of water, they’re a top choice for those with sensitive skin as 98 per cent of the ingredients are natural, while the eco-aware will appreciate the cruelty-free and FSC certifications (meaning they’re made from sustainably sourced wood). The delicate scent is gently revitalising for a quick freshen-up on the go and its cleansing power proves particularly effective on oilier parts of your face, leaving skin free of grease and clumps of eye make-up yet also soft and hydrated. If you fancy something less floral-smelling, try the detoxifying tomato charcoal wipes, or the popular blueberry ones.
2. RMS Beauty Ultimate Makeup Remover Wipes: £15 for 20, Net-A-Porter
Proof yet again that simple and natural is best, these cleansing wipes were the most welcome surprise on our list. They are infused with nothing but certified organic, unrefined coconut oil and the smell upon opening one will transport you to a tropical island. The material is 100 per cent compostable rayon and to keep them moist, each wipe comes individually wrapped in a sleek silver sleeve with colourful holographic branding – ideal for popping into your make-up bag. Those doubting their efficacy will be delighted to find that every trace of make-up, including stubborn mascara, melts away without the need to rub your eyes sore. RMS has been generous with the oil, known for its anti-bacterial and anti-ageing properties, so the wipe never felt dry and our face was left feeling wonderfully moisturised. These are a godsend for anyone who struggles with dry patches in winter.
3. The Body Shop Vitamin E Gentle Facial Cleansing Wipes: £7 for 25, The Body Shop
Busy women who struggle to fit a full cleansing routine into their day will love these. Suitable for all skin types and formulated with nourishing vitamin E and moisturising wheatgerm oil, their effect is threefold – they cleanse, tone and moisturise in one quick and easy step, also making them ideal for business trips when your luggage allowance is limited. They are gentle to use, with a mild soapy fragrance, and don’t leave residue behind on the face, removing even glittery eyeliner and lashings of mascara without stinging or the need for harsh rubbing. Our skin felt soft but not at all greasy after use, making them an appealing choice for those with combination skin. While they aren’t the cheapest on this list, they won’t break the bank either. They’re environmentally sound too: biodegradable and ethical, using Community Trade olive oil from Italy.
4. Eyeko Mascara Off Wipes: £6 for 10, Marks & Spencer
Eyeko's promise to remove our “smokey eyes” set our expectations high. Thankfully these wipes do not disappoint, so long as you're patient enough to follow the instructions of holding each pure cotton wipe over your eye for at least 10 seconds to soften waxy waterproof mascara. They have a pleasant, lightly fruity fragrance and the bold blue packaging will make them easy to find in your backpack for removing glittery festival eye make-up. They are smaller in size than the pack suggests but would be useful for touching up make-up if your eyeliner goes wrong on the bus. They work just as well on the rest of your face and, being paraben-free, are a great choice if you have sensitive skin. Olive oil smoothes and aloe vera soothes, while refreshing grapefruit awakened our tired eyes. Eyeko is against animal testing so this is a cruelty-free hit too.
5. Lancer Makeup Removing Wipes: £32 for 30, Look Fantastic
These luxury cleansing wipes may smell slightly sterile, but don't be put off for they are a pampering treat. Intended to remove even the heaviest make-up, they are made from non-irritating bamboo fibres and infused with gentle aloe, cucumber and marshmallow extracts to calm and soothe. They are oil-free and pH balanced, making them a wise option for acne-prone skin, and come individually wrapped in airtight packets to keep them moist for freshening up on the move. Fully soaked, they remain effective without drying up halfway through doing your face as some cheaper options tend to. These wipes are designed by dermatologist Dr Harold Lancer, whose skincare line is a favourite of the stars, so you can expect quality for the high price tag if you’re willing to splash out for the convenience factor.
6. Faith in Nature 3 in 1 Facial Wipes: £3.25 for 25, Faith in Nature
This natural, British-based beauty brand supplies biodegradable face wipes, and has just launched a new wipe that is even more natural than before. Made from wood pulp, its new offering is fully compostable, with a blend of natural essential oils specially formulated to moisturise, refresh and tone while clearing the face of the day’s make-up and grime. They have a revitalising lemon scent and are good value at just 13p per wipe, especially when compared with many similar products on the market. There no nasties hiding in the ingredients list and they won’t strip your skin of moisture when cleaning off the make-up. They are gentle enough to be used elsewhere on the body too, making them a great, versatile alternative when you want to feel truly clean but don’t have easy access to a bathroom.
7. Ecocare Organic Facial Wipes (Apple & Honey): £5.05 for 25, Planet Organic
Four apples have been squeezed into this pack of biodegradable, certified organic cotton wipes to break down oil and cloying make-up for clean, glowing skin. Ecocare makes the most of what nature has to offer in the way of renewable ingredients, with rejuvenating honey added for hydration and green tea for antioxidants. It’s all cruelty free too (Leaping Bunny-approved), so will get a firm thumbs up from ethical consumers wanting the best for the environment. Made in the UK, these wipes fulfilled their promise to remove my waterproof mascara, though they would also serve nicely for a post-sunbathe freshen-up on holiday. They’re fragrance and alcohol free, hypoallergenic and left our skin feeling toned and looking radiant, all for a fair price considering the eco-friendly brownie points.
The Verdict: Biodegradable face wipes
RMS Beauty’s coconut oil-infused wipes were the dark horse of the list before testing, but wowed us with scent, efficacy and moisturisation. Sadly, quality costs money, so while they make a lovely treat, Yes To’s delicious-smelling range ticks multiple eco boxes and did not pull up short when it came to removing heavy eye make-up. If it’s organic you’re after, go for Ecocare, or splash out on Lancer for a taste of the A-list lifestyle.
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