Should We Still be Using Makeup Wipes?

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For a while, makeup wipes felt like the best beauty invention since sunscreen. There was not a girl on my floor in college that didn’t have a pack on hand, and they come in handy after long nights out, no matter what age you are. However, they’ve recently received some scrutiny as the skin-care industry moves towards more sustainable products that don’t leave room for single-use wipes that become trash after just a minute. Additionally, with the advent of cleansing balms, oils and other innovative ways to remove makeup, we question whether we should still be buying makeup wipes at all. Outside of the sustainability concern, experts say there’s still a use for them.

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Are makeup wipes good for our skin?

Well, experts say there’s a scale. “They are good in terms of patients who need a quicker solution or a lot of younger girls who tend to sleep in their makeup,” says New York dermatologist Julie Russak, MD. It’s a better alternative than skipping cleansing your face because you don’t want to get involved with a lengthy skin-care routine that night.

Nanuet, NY dermatologist Heidi Waldorf, MD recommends makeup wipes “before washing, on the go for after exercise or as a quick alternative when you just don’t have the energy to stand by the sink.” She says even she always travels with them either individually pre-wrapped or in a ziplock.

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Do they remove enough makeup, sunscreen, oil, etc.?

Double cleansing is advised by most experts, so whether you use an oil or a wipe for your first cleanse, you should follow up with another step to ensure everything is off. Dr. Russak likes “to use them to remove all the makeup and then go in with my cleanser to take care of the rest.” For long-wear or waterproof makeup, Dr. Waldorf likes to add a bit of Vaseline onto the towelette first and then follow with a cleanser.

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Could makeup wipes be damaging to the skin?

It’s all about picking the right makeup wipe, experts say. Dr. Waldorf notes that much like anything used on the skin, makeup wipes could lead to issues. Irritation can come if the wipes “are too rough in terms of texture or if they contain essential oils and fragrances that patients are sensitive or allergic to,” says Dr. Russak.

If you have a history of contact dermatitis, Dr. Waldorf recommends looking at the ingredients to rule out your particular allergens. Additionally, “If you use something and your skin feels dry or burns or looks red or your eyes get red and tear, don’t use it again.”

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How to pick the right makeup wipe

“The key to picking a makeup wipe is the texture and moisture: it should be soft and wet enough to remove makeup and dirt without rubbing,” says Dr. Waldorf. “I like Neutrogena Ultrasoft Cleansing Towelettes ($6), which never irritate my face or eyes and have the added benefit of now being biodegradable.”

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