Are face wipes really all that bad?

Slovenly, shameful but oh so handy, Kelly Gilbert discusses the controversial issue of face wipes

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By Kelly Gilbert on

Face wipes aren’t exactly exciting. Is it the packaging? A bit clumsy, a bit sanitary protection? The job they do has slovenly connotations for sure. They’re for the woman with slept-in eye make-up, too pissed/knackered/lazy to make it to the bathroom, some say. So we can add shameful to unexciting then. Then there’s the worry that they aren’t especially hygienic given that we’re delving fingers in each time to retrieve one. Plus anyone with sensitive skin reddens at the mere thought of breaking open a pack (because of the need to rub at your skin to clean it rather than use a gentle lather). And of course like wet wipes, most aren’t biodegradable. But the thing is, they are just so handy. Especially for slinging in a suitcase or your handbag when travelling. Or doubling up as an all over shower when camping. Or in your desk drawer for make-up touch-ups. Or how about for when we simply can’t muster the energy to clean our faces properly. Their convenience cannot be denied and when used in moderation (e.g not every day) and not flushed down the loo, they are not completely terrible. In fact, there have been a few developments in the face wipe world that is set to change their fate. 

Wipes are for the woman with slept-in eye make-up, too pissed/knackered/lazy to make it to the bathroom (say some)

Launched just a few weeks ago, Estée Lauder’s new Estée Edit collection includes a pack of face wipes amongst the user-friendly and highly covetable make-up range. Unlike the usual bulky, white plastic packs these come in very sleek, silver spacey packaging, which would look very nice nestled in your handbag thanks very much. They are named Dissolve the Drama, £12 for 30 wipes and remove even long-wear make-up. The fabric is very smooth, thus reducing the “drag” that leads to skin irritation – and why many of us are put off using a standard wipe. The point of them is to remove specific make-up rather than perform a full face clean, so they’re excellent for office drawers to remove under-eye mascara smudges and lipstick remnants before going out after work. Otherwise, if you’ve gone heavy with some smokey eyeshadow or liquid liner these wipes are ideal for removing the excess before you wash your face with your regular cleanser before bed. It means you get a super fresh, scrupulously clean face once you pat dry, all ready and primed for your nighttime skincare (which you all apply religiously, yes? *ahem*). 

Esteé Lauder Dissolve the Drama Makeup Remover Wipes, £12

For full face cleansing Lauren Napier Cleansing Wipes, £33 for 50, are definitely elevating the whole wiping-your-face affair. It’s the kind of product you can imagine a women travelling in first class might pull from her posh Hermès handbag. The cloth is cushiony soft and imprinted with effective cleansers, calming cucumber and aloe extract, plus botanical skin-enhancing ingredients to boot. Each wipe is individually sealed in its own reflective black pouch meaning that they are resolutely bacteria free. Indisputably lovely and effective, the hefty-price-per-use and excess packaging however, means that these are best for occasional use – perhaps on your hols of if you are venturing to a festival over the next few weeks. You can always make your wipe last that bit longer and use it to wash the sink/clean the taps/wipe your computer screen after you’ve cleaned your face.


Those with sensitive skin will welcome Clinique’s new Take the Day Off Micellar Cleansing Towelettes, £16 for 50.With no fragrance, the Micellar works by attracting grease and dirt and grabbing it away from your skin, so it only takes a light swirl around with these hydrating, kitten-soft wipes to thoroughly clean your face. The residue dries to a velvet finish, which is far nicer than your average wipe, and the block purple coloured pack looks less baby-wipe functional, more bonefide-beauty-product, too. 


Bonus points should go to Simple, who admittedly don’t make the most exciting looking cleansing wipes, but their revamped version addresses all the major concerns consumers have with this product: namely that wipes are irritating to the skin, they don’t clean effectively and they dry out. And the result is their Kind To Skin Cleansing Wipes, £3 for 25, which come with an aqua-lock pack that keeps wipes fresh to the last one, a new tencel-cotton fabric (by far the softest mass market wipe I’ve tried) that slips over the skin very nicely, and an enhanced cleansing juice which clears all the grime but leaves no sticky residue. All that and just a few pounds. 



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