Wipe Out: Why Using Face Wipes Is Bad For Your Skin

By September 21, 2018Skin Sins
face wipes bad skin

I am well-known for my hatred of face wipes. It’s mentioned in print and radio interviews, when I’m on the television, everywhere and anywhere… For me, using face wipes is one of the biggest skin sins you can commit.

Face wipes have been beloved the world over by many a hooman who craves ease of use, something they can whip across their face and feel they have done some good with. I understand what it is that people love about wipes – they’re minimum effort and portable. You can keep them on your bedside so you don’t have to even get out of bed to “remove your makeup” (more on the need for inverted commas later on).

However, face wipes are not skincare. To have a mode of comparison, face wipes are to skincare as fast food is to a healthy, well-balanced meal. Wipes do much more harm than good and in a sense, I have a lot to thank wipes for (yes, truly). If it weren’t for face wipes, I wouldn’t have created the Cleanse Off Mitt, a reusable makeup removal tool, as an alternative – and where would I be without my beautiful blue mitty?!

Wipes aren’t simply bad because I say they are… That would be ironic as I believe in education when it comes to what we’re using on our skin. There is a multitude of reasons why I decry them…

They do not remove makeup fully

As a no-rinse technique, makeup/face wipes leave you with a film of the oils, makeup and debris that were on your face and it will sit there all night long. All. Night. Long. This film combines with the ingredients of the wipes which are often known skin irritants.

face wipes bad skin


They contain drying alcohols and sensitising fragrances

In terms of ingredients, it isn’t completely fair to paint them all with the same brush. However, many wipes are packed full of drying alcohols (listed as alcohol denat., denatured alcohol, SD alcohol) as well as high amounts of sensitising fragrances (often listed as parfum or perfume). These ingredients can strip the skin of its barrier function. The skin is an organ – don’t cha know? – and as an organ, it protects itself using its barrier which is made up of the dead skin cells and lipids (oils) on the surface of the epidermis.

It doesn’t sound the most appetising, I’ll admit, but this barrier is your skin’s raincoat, shielding it from the elements. It additionally serves the purpose of preventing TEWL or trans-epidermal water loss. Have I lost you? TEWL is the term used to explain the loss of moisture contained in the epidermis. Your skin’s barrier is like a Tupperware lid, ensuring that none of the good stuff spills out whilst keeping baddies on the outside.

Drying alcohols can strip your skin of the oils that help to make up the skin’s barrier. This means that you are more susceptible to irritation from other ingredients, your skin may feel dehydrated, dry or tight and you may experience more breakouts as your skin will overproduce oil to make up for the lack of it. Your skin will also age faster as a result and you will immediately have “drinkles” aka dehydrated wrinkles, fine lines that occur when the skin is dehydrated. Think of a raisin versus a grape. We all want to be the juicy, line-free grape.

Even if you just use wipes for eye makeup, this ain’t good – your eyes are MORE sensitive than your skin, as is the delicate under eye area.

They do little to nothing when it comes to pollution

Air pollution is becoming increasingly more of a worry in the skindustry. We’re only learning about the effects that airborne pollutants can have on our skin now. Removing the physical debris left from pollution may be beneficial towards helping your skin to escape its effects and as wipes can’t “lift” anything from the skin, they aren’t a weapon in that battle.

What are the alternatives?

Simple: replace wipes with a double cleanse if you care about your skin. Easy-peasy lemon squeezy. The double cleanse ensures that your skin is clean, oils, debris and makeup have been removed, preps your skin for any serums, moisturisers and treatments coming afterwards and can introduce active ingredients to the skin.

How to double cleanse

Step 1: Pre-cleanse with the Cleanse Off Mitt

I am biased as it is my creation. The COM trumps wipes as it is a reusable microfibre makeup remover suitable for all skin types, genders and ages (even babies). The tiny loops that make up the Cleanse Off Mitt break the surface tension between makeup and oils and the skin, gently hooking it off. All you need to do is wet the Cleanse Off Mitt in lukewarm water, wring it out and gently glide it across the face – do not forget your eye makeup (yes, even the waterproof stuff is no match for zee mitt).

face wipes bad skin(Ps. Sometimes I use a cleansing balm alongside this step – ie. apply cleansing balm, remove with wet Cleanse Off Mitt).

Step 2: Cleanse with a traditional cleanser

Your cleanser should be something that suits your skin. I endorse an alternating active cleanser/inactive cleanser approach. I sound a bit bananas so let me explain: use an active cleanser (ie. one that contains glycolic acid/salicylic acid/lactic acid/vitamin C) once every two or three days and use a soothing, nourishing cleanser the other days. For example, for moi, every second day I’ll use a salicylic acid cleanser like the IMAGE Clear Cell Clarifying Gel Cleanser (€36.00) and on the inbetweener days, I’ll use Académie Scientifique de Beauté Derm Acte Dermo Cleanser Intolerant Skin (€24.40) as it essentially cleans the skin without stripping it.

face wipes bad skin

Whether I’m using a foam, wash or cream cleanser, I remove it with a wet Cleanse Off Mitt. The face cloths from days of old can be a bit harsh on the skin due to the material and cotton pads can leave remnants on the face which can irritate skin, especially sensitive “princess skin”.

Are you better to sleep with your makeup on or use wipes?

I’ve been asked this a few times as I despise both – your skin has so many processes to get through while you sleep and makeup gets in the way of them… The answer is still to sleep in your makeup. If you’re using wipes, you’re essentially sleeping with your makeup on anyway in addition to the ingredients that aren’t skin-friendly.

Earlier in 2018, when I had more time to experiment, I carried out a wipe experiment on myself – I’m a brave hooman – where I went off my usual honed and perfected skincare routine to use only wipes for a week. Just one week. That is all it took for wipes to set me back weeks with regard to my skin.

I had breakouts and dryness, the texture of my skin was awful, I felt a bit grimy all day long.

If my written testimony is not enough, see it before your own eyes.

face wipes bad skin

That should be just about enough to put you off wipes for good… My friends don’t call me the Simon Cowell of skincare for nothing – I tell it like it is.

For a full list of Cleanse Off Mitt stockists or to buy online, check out the Cleanse Off Mitt website.

For more info on double-cleansing and the specific cleanser you should be using to get results for your skin, join the Nerd Network!