Are Makeup Remover Wipes Bad For Your Skin? The Experts Explain

NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 13: A model cleans makeup off backstage at the Bill Blass Spring 2006 fashion show during Olympus Fashion Week at Bryant Park September 13, 2005 in New York City. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Source: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

I'm sure I'm not alone in occasionally being too tired (or lazy) to remove my makeup every single night. For the times when you're too exhausted to properly clean your face before bed, you may resort to makeup remover wipes. But, are makeup remover wipes bad for your skin? Sure, they're not the ideal solution, but when all you can think about is getting under the sheets and transporting yourself to the land of nod, they're a pretty good backup.

If you've had a super busy day, or a very late evening out, the first thing on your mind isn't always taking your makeup off. Your thought process will likely be "food and bed," especially if you went for an after work drink that turned into after work cocktails, plus a nightcap. Depending on the time of year and your schedule, you may have let your skin care routine slide. Around the holidays it can be easy to get caught up in work and socializing, so you might not be on top of your A game when it comes to removing your makeup. If you're a student, you may be struggling to balance studying, work, and play, so you may have resorted to using makeup remover wipes more frequently than you'd like to admit.

Therefore, I spoke with a couple of skin care experts to discover if makeup remover wipes are really detrimental to your skin, or if it's totally fine to resort to them on the regular. 

“Makeup remover wipes are OK in a pinch, but you should only use them when you don’t have access to a gentle cleanser,” board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Janet Prystowksy, tells Bustle over email. “There are a few reasons why,”  Dr. Prystowksy elaborates, “the first reason is that makeup wipes don’t actually remove all of your makeup. They tend to smudge makeup around your face, so you only get a partial clean.” 

Marisa Martino, co-founder of SKINNEY Medspa, seconds this, explaining, “Make up towelettes are a quick fix to remove excess makeup, dirt, and oil, but most leave a not-so-clean residue.” 

“A better solution is to wash your face and then use glycolic/salicylic skin wipes like SKINNEY Medspa in a Bottle's Chemical Peel in a Bottle,” says Martino via email, “the strong bacteria fighting ingredients will cut through dirt and oil quickly and effectively, leaving your skin squeaky clean and blemish free. They deeply exfoliate and unclog pores while removing any remaining makeup or dirt on your face.”

“Second, they leave behind a residue of cleansers and preservatives that can dry your skin and cause allergic reactions,” says Dr. Prystowksy. If you’ve experienced a recent, random irritation on your skin that you haven’t been able to pinpoint the cause of, the culprit could be your makeup remover wipes.

“If you rinse your face after using a makeup wipe, you can get a better clean and don’t need to worry about a residue of cleansers and preservatives,” says Dr. Prystowksy. “For a lot of people, though, this defeats the purpose of using the wipe in the first place. You might as well just use a gentle cleanser. But in situations where you are traveling or otherwise don’t have access to your skincare arsenal, a makeup wipe will work,” she explains.

In addition to this, makeup remover wipes can be a little tough on skin. “Makeup remover wipes push and pull skin and our beauty philosophy at Savor Beauty is to treat your skin like the most expensive silk,” Angela Jia Kim, founder of Savor Beauty, tells Bustle over email. “This means to never pull at the skin and to be as delicate as possible,” she says.

Kim recommends a different product entirely — Savor Beauty Coconut Jasmine Pre-Cleansing Oil. She explains it, “acts as a 2-in-1 makeup remover with anti-aging benefits that doubles as a conditioner for long, lush lashes!” 

Dr. Prystowsky explains how she takes off her makeup at the end of the day, “My makeup removal routine only needs a Ponds Cold Cream and a Dove Beauty Bar. I use the Ponds around my eyes and sometimes for my cheeks as well. Then I wash off with the Beauty Bar and water. If you’re using a different gentle cleanser, I recommend moisturizing afterwards.”

Although makeup remover wipes aren't the worst thing you can subject your skin to, they're also not the best. Try to use them sparingly and take the experts' advice on alternative makeup remover solutions!

Images: Kjerstin_Michaela (1) /Pixabay; María Victoria Heredia Reyes (1), Dan Watson (1) /Unsplash

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