Like most things built for convenience, face wipes are problematic. First, the pros: they’re effective cleansers and are really easy to use. As a high school-aged lover of skateboarders and being tan, I remember my first face wipe, actually. It was Neutrogena, given to me after a long day on a boat, and it felt like the best thing in the world. Afterward, though, came the question: What do I do with it now? That’s the con of face wipes, and it’s a big one—discarding a non-biodegradable towelette every day is not at all sustainable.
Of course, there are practical-enough alternatives—micellar water does the same job with much less waste. But some of us are lazy, and when you do wind up in the Catskills or the Rockaways sans bathroom sink, your options are limited. There are, however, face wipes that are good and also biodegradable. Eco-friendly wipes won’t build up in landfills but instead disappear altogether, or become a nutritive part of the soil. You can feel less guilty about keeping a pack on your nightstand for those kinds of nights, or a mini set in your purse for eye makeup-related emergencies. I’m a connoisseur of these things, so I picked out seven of my favorites, all arranged below for your convenience:
These wipes top my list. The cloths are compostable and they're soaked in organic coconut oil, which is nutrient-rich and removes makeup more easily than anything else I've used. (Particularly good on the eyes.) While I’m usually more careful about nighttime skincare, I don’t feel the need to do anything else after using these; I leave the oil on my skin overnight and it always feel good in the AM.
These are very gentle and, as I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find, they still remove all my Nars Stylo eyeliner. They’re made with argan oil and smell slightly like citrus, and if the baby-pink packaging weren’t enough to do it for me, the fact that Josie pledges a percentage of sales to help endangered polar bears really seals the deal.
There is something comforting in knowing a bunch of scientists got together and came up with these wipes for my face—especially when I'm leaving the gym and want to destroy any and all microscopic evidence of other people’s sweat. This pack I keep in the duffel bag I take to boxing class, though it’s definitely pricey enough that I probably won’t share.
Sephora Express Cleansing Wipes are pretty much exactly what they say they are; a very, very fast and thorough cleanse. In times of need (read: all out of makeup remover) I’ve found myself simply not willing to wear makeup at all, just so I don’t have to go through the hassle of taking it all off at night. But these are easy and quick enough to help me to look like my better self at least one night a week by eliminating the otherwise inevitable ritual of splashing water all over myself (and bathroom floor) trying to wash away remnants of mascara and tinted moisturizer.
I find Klorane products to be lovely in general, and while these wipes are not quite aggressive enough to remove everything, they soothe redness and have a toning effect that’s gentle enough for my particularly sensitive skin. I use them as more of a precursor to washing my face.
Big, soft cloths that remove all makeup with one swipe. They also smell like cucumbers (funnily enough) and they don’t burn or sting. I mostly use them after sweaty walks in the 90 degree/90% humidity New York has been suffering through, because they’re incredibly refreshing. I don’t love the soapy feeling on my face afterwards, though, so I’ll splash some water on to rinse.
These smell exactly like they look—exceedingly tropical. I love eating pineapple and I love the idea of any product that does more than one thing, so wiping these to get sunscreen off my face feels right. That said, I’ve worried that the fruit enzymes might simultaneously cause me to break out, so to be safe I don’t use them daily. They are the perfect size (and price) to throw in your beach bag for the weekend, though.
Every French girl's favorite micellar cleanser now comes in the form of a wipe–one that also happens
préserver l'environnement. They come in a neat set of 25, packaged in that pink color that I know you recognize from many a Top Shelf. I like them for three reasons: there’s no need to rinse off after you use 'em, they're biodegradable, and of course, they're French.
Photographed by Tom Newton. Anna Stevenett is a Glossier Editorial Intern.
Ah, the wipe: The golden product of travel packing. Read about more of our favorites here.