Will Beauty Wipes Change the Way We Apply Skin Care?

Photo Credits: Getty Images | Model Used for Illustrative Purpose Only

When it comes to the world of “beauty wipes,” if you think of them as makeup removers or something you throw in your bag to simplify your face-washing routine on the road, you may want to reassess. These “basic” products are having a big moment, taking the beauty world by storm with their high-powered ingredients and serious skin care benefits, and it’s just getting started. “They began as something most of us used because of convenience, ease of use and portability,” says Norwalk, CT, dermatologist Deanne Mraz-Robinson, MD. “That’s changing, and there’s no denying that beauty wipes are a major trend right now.” 

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Wipes and the Workout Link
It’s kind of a no-brainer beauty situation: With the upsurge in workout classes, Dr. Mraz-Robinson says the popularity of wipes was the next logical fit. “They are an easy, quick and effective way to cleanse the skin and remove surface dirt, sweat and grime, especially after workouts. You can throw them in your bag and they provide a quick alternative to cleansing before eventually hitting the showers.” 

While celebrity aesthetician Veronica Barton Schwartz says she still stands by the fact that nothing is better than your cleansing routine of splashing warm water on your face to wash away the grime, she is still a big fan of wipes, mainly for the convenience factor. “Life happens, you’re on the go and it’s not possible to do your whole routine. For this scenario, your best bet is to use a good face wipe, and it’s a much better option than not washing your face at all. Using a towelette that gently wipes off makeup, dirt and oil with a 100-percent cotton wipe is your best bet. I always keep a pack on my nightstand and in my car for emergencies.”

Makeup Removal, Revised
You’ve probably seen them used like this the most, but Dr. Mraz-Robinson says there’s a solid reason why beauty wipes are often targeted for makeup removal. “Because you apply wipes with your fingers, the makeup-removal ones allow you to gently address the nooks and crannies of your face, such as the eye area, without too much irritation or pressure. I tend to suggest a gentle product to avoid potential irritation.” Another suggestion: “Read ingredients and steer clear of preservatives such as methylisothiazolinone, as it can cause an allergic reaction and result in swelling, irritation and allergic eczema. But beyond cleansing, wipes are a quick, effective method to apply a variety of powerful topical ingredients to the skin.”

What Works Well as a Wipe...and What Doesn't?
New York dermatologist Sapna Westley, MD, says beauty wipes can be used for a multitude of purposes, but you need to consider the type of product and how that sort of product typically penetrates the skin. “I would recommend them as a delivery system for cleanser, makeup remover, deodorant, self-tanner, oil, hand-sanitizer and anti-aging ingredients. Antioxidant- and retinol infused–wipes are very big right now, and the newest way I’ve been seeing them: prescription acne products,” she adds. “For uses that don't require much time or penetration on the skin to be effective, I think these can be a convenient option and they’re as effective as their traditional counterparts. This would be the case for makeup removers, self-tanners, hand sanitizers, and cleansers, but I do recommend always looking for alcohol-free wipes.”

Dr. Mraz-Robinson does stress that some products are not well-served by the wipe formulation. “Moisturizer for face and body are better left to our conventional vehicles of cream and lotions. The wipe vehicle doesn’t have the capability to evenly and adequately apply a hydrating moisturizer, and you most likely aren’t getting enough of the product. Dr. Westley adds that some wipes can actually be irritating. “Some contain alcohol, and most have preservatives to prolong their shelf life, which can cause skin reactions in people sensitive to parabens. I like the idea of using an oil, anti-aging or acne treatment as a wipe, but consider that these generally require a product that stays on the skin and penetrates through to be effective. I'm concerned that wipes used for these functions may not deliver enough product and penetrate like a serum or cream would in order to be clinically effective.” One other deal-breaker: “Sunscreen falls into the category of a product that should be applied in a more controlled manner to make sure there is enough on the skin to be effective, so I would be hesitant to recommend it be used as a wipe.”

What You Probably Never, Ever Considered...
It may sound silly, but Barton Schwartz says this is one skin care product that isn’t always so simple to use properly. “Be sure the package closes tightly, so the wipes don’t dry out. If the package closes only with a sticker, the wipes will dry out soon after the package has been opened. If that’s the case, put them in a Ziploc bag to keep them fresh,” she adds. “And always take off your eye makeup last. You don’t want to cleanse your skin after your towelette has remnants of dirty eye makeup. Most eye makeup contains dye and wax ingredients, which aren’t good for the skin.”

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