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Reusable makeup remover pads that could make your cleanser redundant

November 18th 2020 / Melanie Macleod / 0 comment


These little sponges and cloths are big hitters for cleansing, removing makeup and grime with just water. For an eco alternative to cotton wool pads, step this way

There was a time when every trip to Boots meant a packet of cotton wool pads added to our basket – and later to landfill. But since reusable makeup pads came into our lives, with the pioneering Face Halo Original, £12.95 leading the way, it's now easier to make a less wasteful choice.

Most reusable makeup remover pads are made of microfibre, an antibacterial cloth material which removes mascara, foundation, you name it with just water and draws out impurities from the skin. "When you add water to microfibre the positive charge attracts the negative charge of makeup," explains Jennifer Rock, dermal facialist and founder of skincare brand Skingredients. "The fibres attach themselves to debris which dislodges the debris and carries it away."

Not only do these mean you don’t need to buy cleanser any more (a big saving), you’re also creating less landfill. One reusable cleaning pad can be used up to 200 times and replaces up to 500 disposable cotton pads.

How do you use microfibre cleansing pads?

Simply wet in warm water (warm water loosens oil-based makeup better than cold water) and then gently wipe off your makeup. Microfibres cling onto the debris so it doesn’t move about your face like with facial wipes

If you like to double cleanse (which is advised double especially if you wear SPF or a long-wear foundation, or you're exposed to pollution) the reusable pad would replace your first cleanse (bye-bye micellar water). Carry out your second cleanse with a richer formula such as a cleansing balm, washable flannel and warm water.

“I’d follow with gel or foam cleanser,” says dermatologist Dr Elif Benar of the Dr Elif Clinic in London. “Cleansing pads won’t remove oil or pollution from the skin, so it’s essential you follow with a product that does in order to avoid congestion and breakouts.”

Other experts favour the other way around.

“If you are wearing heavy makeup I would recommend removing it first with makeup remover and a reusable cotton pad,” comments Dr Dianni Dai, skin specialist at Pulse Light Clinic. “If you have a light coverage of makeup on you can go straight in with the cleansing pad.”

Cleansing pads are a good for exfoliation too, especially for those with sensitive skin, says Dr Dianni Dai. “Cleansing pads give a gentle exfoliation that doesn’t over-exfoliate the skin compared to other tools on the market such as face brushes. Because they don’t exfoliate the skin as much they are suitable for everyday use.”

How eco are microfibre cleansing pads?

There is concern about microfibre releasing microplastics into the water supply when you wash anything made of it so, as with most eco alternatives, it's not a perfect solution. The amount of fabric they use is small when compared to your microfibre fleece or sweat towel for example, but it's a question of weighing up priorities.

A konjac sponge such as The Konjac Sponge Company £9.99, is a more natural option as it's made entirely of biodegradable plant material. We find it better for a morning cleanse as it's not as thorough at removing makeup. Alternatively, there are washable bamboo or cotton pads. We like Stylpro Reusable Bamboo Makeup Remover Pads, £12.99 for 16 pads and a washbag - again you'll need micellar water or makeup remover.

How to look after your makeup remover pads

We wash ours quickly with soap and warm water after every use to stop your mascara making itself at home on the pad. Once a week they can go into the washing machine with your whites for a deep clean. Put them in a wash bag to save having to fish them out of trouser legs or pillowcases.

One thing to remember: if possible avoid fabric conditioner when washing your facial cleansing pad as this can leave a coating that reduces how effective the fibres are.

There’s a raft of makeup removing pads on the market now, here are the ones we love.

The double-sided one: Seoulista Beauty Magic Cleanser, £14.99 for three-pack


These makeup remover pads won Silver in our awards this year LINK TO WINNERS and our editorial director Victoria is a convert to them. They’re double-sided – the textured side helps to loosen makeup, oil and daily grime from the surface of the skin. Flip over to the fluffy side and the natural, superfine and antibacterial fibres grip and lift oil, makeup and impurities from deep within pores as you sweep across the skin.

Lasting approximately 200 washes each, the pack of three ensures that you can keep your skin cleansed for up to ten months with no need for anything but water to work its magic.

Buy now

The precision one: Face Halo X, £16.80


Face Halo’s original facial cleansing pad was the first one we tried and they’ve continued to be innovative with their latest launch, the Face Halo X. It’s been designed to replace cotton buds allowing us to precisely remove an errant eyeliner flick or smudged shadow. They slip onto the fingers to help you manoeuvre them and touch up your makeup. The original face halo is also available in black for removing heavy makeup that doesn’t show up on the snowy white fluff.

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Great for getting into corners: Farm Girl by Sarah Jane The Saviour Sponge, £19.99 for two


Thicker than some of the others in this edit, this pad holds more water and has an ultra-soft rim making it bendable so you can really get into the crevices of your face for a deep clean.

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For larger areas: Magnitone WipeOut SuperNatural Bamboo MicroFibre Cleansing Cloth, £16 for two


If you’re a flannel fan you’ll love this larger makeup remover pad. Rather than being cotton-round sized, this is flannel sizes for removing more makeup at once. It works in the same was as the pads; simply wet with warm water and apply pressure to the skin (don’t rub) to make the grab and hold fibres well and lock the makeup in the cloth. It needs to be washed after use on a 30-degree wash. Available in pink, grey and this bamboo one, it’s the first microfibre cleansing cloth made from 100 per cent bamboo fibres.

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For heavy makeup: Bambu Babe Fresh Face makeup removal pad in charcoal, £6.95 for one


UK based Bambu Babe started out making face pads from bamboo to try and limit the amount of cotton pads we all use and quickly moved on to making reusable makeup remover pads too, albeit from microfibre rather than bamboo. We love these ones because they come in grey as well as white to avoid staining. You can buy a pack with white and grey in to use depending on how much makeup you’re wearing that day.

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The luxury one: MZ Skin Instant Radiance Facial Kit, £245


This fluffy pink delight is only available as part of this kit, which also comprises a mask, a serum, ampoules, a headband, a mask brush, and a gua sha tool. It’s ultra fluffy and soft and combined with the rest of the kit, makes cleaning feel like an ultra-luxe self-care affair rather than a chore.

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The festive one: Skingredients Cleanse Off Mitt, £6


Available in blue, pink and this limited edition festive green, this slips onto your hand like a mitten and removes makeup, SPF and daily dirt and grime. Skingredients' founder Jennifer likes to follow her mitt cleanse with a hydrating cleanser to rid the skin of oil and then follows with a treatment cleanser that addresses your skin's need (AHA if skin is dull or salicylic acid cleanser for blemishes)

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The cute one: Cleanzi Mitt, £15.95


This dual-sided mitt, cleanses skin in three simple steps the soft to touch purple side with fluffy microfibres removes makeup by cleansing with warm water. The pale pink reverse is the tougher exfoliating side designed to gently exfoliate skin removing dead cells from the face and neck, as well as tackling blackheads, whiteheads and the daily build-up of grime. Founder and aesthetician Sam Page dreamt up this glam mitt to help people who are new to skincare see that they needn't have a long, complicated routine for beautifully cleansed skin.

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MORE GLOSS: 13 bathroom swaps to reduce your plastic footprint

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