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It’s a well-known fact that the beauty industry is a major contributor to the overwhelming amount of permanent waste produced annually—but it’s not just plastic bottles and packaging that are problematic. The small, single-use items we reach for daily and toss in the trash without even thinking are a major culprit; we’re talking about all of those disposable face wipes, cotton balls, and cotton pads that so many of us rely on to remove makeup on the regular.
Ditching these for a reusable, washable makeup remover is not only one easy way to have a positive impact on the environment, but it also saves you money in the long run. More sustainable and easier on the wallet? Yes, please. Not to mention that along with removing makeup, these reusable options are also great for applying products such as essences or toners. Plus, there are plenty to pick from, in a variety of shapes, sizes, materials, and price points.
Here, the best reusable makeup remover pads out there.
As the name suggests, these pads are made from bamboo and feature a terry cloth-like texture that’s both ultra-soft yet slightly exfoliating. Not only does the bamboo feel good on your skin, but it’s also naturally hypoallergenic and anti-microbial. And per the sustainability point of things, bamboo is a crop that requires little water, no pesticides, grows back quickly, and is carbon-neutral, so you can feel extra good about your choice.
The rounds hold up beautifully wash after wash—they come with an included mesh laundry bag, simply throw them in there and wash with your towels—and come housed in a beautiful pink vegan leather case.
No cleanser? No problem. All you have to do is wet this pad and give your face a scrub; it almost instantly takes off even the super stubborn stuff, think long-wear lipstick and full coverage foundation, with just H2O alone. Apparently, it’s a special fiber that gets the job done, one that’s 100 times finer than human hair and is able to effectively trap dirt and makeup.
Personally, we like that it’s white so that you can actually see all the makeup it removes, though in our experience it can stain a bit after repeated use (each one can be used and washed up to 200 times).
Ditch your standard washcloth for these muslin cloths, a major upgrade. The 100% cotton, tightly woven material is effective at removing dirt, oil, and makeup when paired with your favorite cleanser, and has the added benefit of acting as a gentle physical exfoliant, too. Also nice: The gentle and absorbent fabric just gets better and softer with time.
Control how much sloughing you want by the amount of pressure you use as you rub it across your skin.
These rounds, a favorite of Byrdie’s Senior Social Media Editor Kelly Galagher, are made of a 100% organic cotton flannel—yes, they feel as good as your favorite sheets. Velvety soft and with just the right level of absorbency, you get 20 machine-washable pads in a pack. Also fun: They come in varying colors and prints.
Just one of these rectangular clothes will last you—wait for it—three to five years, replacing up to 3600 makeup wipes. Talk about saving money and the environment in one fell swoop. The polyester cloth is antibacterial and removes even waterproof makeup with water alone (though we’ve also used it with cleanser, just for curiosity’s sake, and it still worked great). One side contains shorter fibers for cleansing and makeup removing, the other slightly longer fibers that offer more of an exfoliating effect.
Ringing in at just a little a few dollars apiece, this pack is a great wallet-friendly option for anyone who wants to try out a reusable makeup remover, or who wants to really stock up. The 16 pads are equivalent to 2000 cotton balls, and happy reviewers repeatedly rave about how soft they feel and how well they work.
Those who are partial to using disposable face wipes will appreciate the square shape of these cloths, which makes for a very similar experience. They’re made of a crazy soft microfiber and boast scalloped edges so there’s not even a scratchy corner or side to worry about it. The 12” x 12” size is also great for getting your entire face clean, and happy reviewers comment time and time again how well they work and how soft and gentle they are, a win for sensitive skin.
All of the products on this list will take off your eye makeup, but we’re especially partial to this one. The tear-drop shape allows you to get to even those hard-to-reach spots; use the tapered end to wipe off mascara and liner, the rounded side for shadow and brow products. The small size also has an insert that fits over two or three of your fingers, making it super ergonomic, too. While it is machine washable, the fact that it’s black means you’ll definitely never have to worry about stains.
Sure, you could use these to take off makeup, but they’re also choice for cleansing and exfoliating your complexion—and all you need to do is add water. They’re made from an exclusive blend of ultra-fine microfibers that trap dirt and bacteria with just water alone, making these a great choice for those with sensitive skin who are trying to minimize the number of products and ingredients they’re using. Each pad is made to be effective for up to 200 washes; once you hit that mark, you can send it back to the brand and they’ll upcycle it.