I Ditched My Fancy Cleanser for Makeup Wipes—This Is What Happened

Updated 10/26/19

Stocksy

I've often heard the phrase, "Live life with no regrets." For the past quarter-century, I can happily say that I've followed this notion, save for maybe a brief run-in with a box of ultra-blond hair color that I let my freshman-year roommate use on me. But for the most part, no major regrets here. That is, until I offered myself up as a guinea pig for a story and said I'd wash my face using only makeup wipes for two weeks. I realize I'm being hyperbolic, but truly, if I could go back in time and un-pitch the story, I might consider it. Keep reading to find out why.

What Are Makeup Wipes?

Makeup wipes are single-use cloths soaked with facial cleanser and/or makeup remover to rid skin of the day's beauty products, not to mention any remnants of dirt or debris. Most makeup wipes ring up between $7 and $10, however, there are some pricy options, like Koh Gen Do's Cleansing Water Cloths ($72) that well surpass that.

Benefits of Makeup Wipes

  • They don't require a lather and rinse
  • They're travel-friendly
  • They're often more affordable than traditional cleansers
  • They're considered to be all-around conveneint

Lots of people use makeup wipes to cleanse their skin at the end of the day—this I know. My friends use them, friends of friends use them, my family uses them, and Olivia Holt told us she swears by them.

Makeup Wipes vs. Traditional Cleansers

Makeup wipes are said to be the lazy girl's best beauty friend. That's because, unlike traditional cleansers, they don't require additional lathering and rinsing to rid the skin of built-up makeup, dirt, and debris. Instead, they're designed to wipe away the day's cosmetics with a single swipe, making them super convenient—especially for people who can't be bothered to put a little extra effort into their skincare routines.

How to Prepare for Using Makeup Wipes

To determine whether makeup wipes truly stand up to traditional cleansers, I dedicated two weeks of cleansing to makeup wipes.

My self-imposed rule was that I would continue doing everything else as usual—cleanse first, then swipe on toner with a cotton ball, followed by moisturizer—so that the only variable I was testing would be the effectiveness of the face wipe. I also chose to use a cult-favorite brand in the sensitive skin variation so that the alcohol from the wipes wouldn't negatively affect my skin, thus throwing off the study. 

Look for a makeup wipe variation specific to your skin type, this way, the alcohol from the wipes won't negatively impact your skin.

What to Expect When Using Makeup Wipes

The first night of using the wipe, I actually thought to myself that it might not be so bad. I genuinely liked the idea of not having to hunch over a sink and wash my face, water dripping down my arms when it was chilly in my apartment—washing your face can be unpleasant when New York is freezing. Plus, I was excited by the idea of shaving time off my nightly routine. However, when it came time to remove my eye makeup, my mascara wouldn't budge. I found that I had to really rub at my eyes, and because I cringe at the idea of pinching my lashes with the wipes and wiggling the product off, I ended up sleeping with my mascara on that night.

The next morning, however, I was pleasantly surprised: My skin didn't look tired or worn out. Awesome. I did notice some tiny blackheads on my cheeks, but all in all, it wasn't that bad. I wiped that morning, and again that night, and went to bed—albeit again with raccoon eyes—hoping for another case of good skin in the morning.

When I woke up and took a peek in the mirror, I was so disappointed. I had a big breakout on my chin, a sizeable breakout on my cheek, and major blackheads on my forehead. Gross. I was already dreading the next 12 days. God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…

Side Effects

So I don't bore you with a 12-day breakdown of each morning thereafter, I'll sum things up in one word: dreadful. My skin was starting to break out like crazy, and I felt like a total masochist. Halfway through the experiment, I was so upset at how my skin was looking that I cheated. Yes, dear readers, I will admit that I was a total swindler. I did a ceramide treatment, I face-masked, and I applied acne cream. I couldn't help it—I had events coming up and big weekend plans and needed to banish these blemishes fast. I did, however, continue using the face wipes every morning and night, just with the addition of my skin-saving auxiliaries. Finally, by day 14, I'd had it.

The Final Takeaway

On day 15, I breathed a huge sigh of relief and reacquainted myself with my forever-fave Eve Lom Cleanser ($80). It was obvious she was upset with me, but after explaining I had a work obligation to commit to, she forgave me, and we agreed to put the past behind us. Joking aside, being able to use that honey-scented, balmy cleanser again felt so reaffirming and gratifying. So with that, I closed up the package of makeup wipes and hid them deep in the back of my vanity, swearing only to open them again when my makeup wipe-loving friends pay me a visit.

I get it: Some people may find no issue at all with using a wipe daily, but for me, no matter what variation I've used—organic, chemical-free, etc.—I've always felt that my skin looked tired and/or broken out afterward; it's the difference between having good skin and skin I'm not happy with. In other words, I'll stick with my fancy cleanser from now on, thanks.

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