The Best Makeup Wipes For Sensitive Skin
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It doesn't matter how disciplined you are about your skin care routine; there comes a time in everyone's life when they turn to a makeup-removing wipe at the end of the day. When it comes to cleansing, there's a whole list of reasons why makeup wipes are every dermatologist's last resort (more on that ahead), but when you have sensitive skin, even the act of wiping and rubbing your face can cause issues. Determining the best makeup wipes for sensitive skin is a bit of a misnomer, but when you're in a pinch, some are definitely better than others (and a makeup wipe is always better than going to bed with your makeup still on). "If you must use makeup wipes, opt for products that are fragrance-free and oil-free," dermatologist Lindsey Zubritsky tells Elite Daily. "Fragrances can lead to allergic-type reactions. Also, avoid any makeup wipes that contain alcohol, which could further dry out and irritate your skin," she advises. Dr. Zubritsky adds that it can also be helpful to look for makeup wipes that are made with hydrating and skin barrier-repairing ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid and ceramides.
Dr. Lindsey Zubritsky, M.D., F.A.A.D., is a board-certified dermatologist practicing on the Gulf Coast. She is passionate about using social media to share her expertise and debunk skin care myths, and is a member of the American Academy of Dermatology, where she serves as a social media ambassador.
Why You Should Limit Using Makeup Wipes
There are undoubtedly occasions where makeup wipes will just be more convenient, such as when traveling, camping, or after a really late night out. But whenever possible, Dr. Zubritsky says to stick with your usual cleansing routine. "[Makeup wipes] do not properly cleanse your skin or remove makeup, which leaves dirt and residue on your skin and leads to breakouts," she explains. "They also are damaging to our skin barrier — the act of wiping and rubbing can lead to inflammation and redness. They can also contain harsh fragrances, alcohols, or preservatives that lead to skin irritation and dryness," she continues, adding, "Finally, they are bad for the environment since they aren't reusable."
How To Use Makeup Wipes (When You Have To)
For when you do feel that it’s necessary to reach for a makeup wipe, Dr. Zubritsky has a few words of wisdom. "I would highly recommend a double cleanse," she says. "After using the wipe, choose a gentle, hydrating cleanser to ensure adequate removal of makeup, debris, and dirt, if possible." If your circumstances won’t allow that, her advice on what to apply to your skin after using a makeup wipe is simple enough to follow: "Avoid using any aggressive skin care ingredients like retinoids or alpha or beta hydroxy acids that night," Dr. Zubritsky advises. "Instead, follow up your makeup removal with gentle, hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid, ceramides, or niacinamide."
Also, consider using an actual makeup remover on your eyes (or skipping eye makeup altogether when you know you'll be using a makeup wipe later). "The skin of our eyes is very delicate and sensitive, and the act of rubbing away makeup with a makeup wipe can lead to irritation, dryness, inflammation, and premature aging," Dr. Zubritsky cautions. "Instead, I recommend using micellar water on a cotton pad or a cleansing balm to remove eye makeup."
Shop The Best Makeup Wipes For Sensitive Skin
In a hurry? Here are the best makeup wipes for sensitive skin:
1. The Overall Best: CeraVe Makeup Removing Cleanser Cloths
2. Best Compostable Makeup Wipes: Neutrogena Fragrance-Free Compostable Makeup Remover Cleansing Wipes
3. Best Micellar Water Makeup Wipes: Garnier SkinActive Micellar Makeup Removing Towelettes
4. Best Makeup Wipes With Calming Ingredients: Cetaphil Gentle Makeup Removing Wipes
5. Best French Pharmacy Makeup Wipes: Vichy Laboratoires Pureté Thermale 3-In-1 Micellar Wipes
1. Expert’s Pick: The Overall Best Makeup Wipes For Sensitive Skin
"They are as gentle as a makeup wipe can be," Dr. Zubritsky says of CeraVe’s Makeup Removing Cleanser Cloths. "Devoid of fragrances, [they] contain soothing, hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid and ceramides," she adds of the gentle cloths that are accepted by the National Eczema Association. In addition to being formulated with hydrating hyaluronic acid and ceramides that help to restore the skin barrier, the wipes also contain niacinamide, which can be helpful for reducing inflammation.
Relevant Review: "I know, I know - face wipes are wasteful. But I love them. [...] These are the best ones I've ever used. I tried Simple, Aveeno, Neutrogena and any other cost effective option and these are the best for my sensitive skin. They have no fragrance, and they have CeraVe's signature lotion-esque quality to them that makes them super soothing without adding any sort of film. I still rinse my face with water afterwards, but it's nice to know that they are gentle enough that you don't "need" to.”
2. Writer's Pick: Best Compostable Makeup Wipes
Blame it on the pandemic and wearing a mask everywhere, but my skin has become super sensitive over the past few years (we're talking breakouts and random rash levels of sensitivity here). I rarely stray from the routine my dermatologist has instructed me to follow, but on a recent weekend away I reached for one of these Neutrogena Makeup Remover Cleansing Wipes when I was too exhausted to go through a whole double cleanse. I wasn't wearing loads of makeup or any waterproof formulas, but these seemed to get all of the makeup off of my face, and they didn't cause any reactions (probably because they're made without fragrance, alcohols, soaps, and dyes). They're also made from plant-based fibers, so they were designed to be able to biodegrade in home compost bins, if you're looking for a more environmentally friendly makeup wipe.
Relevant Review: "I have extremely sensitive skin. This is one of the few things [that] I can use on my face. It works great for cleaning up mascara that got in the wrong place, takes off makeup, and cleans [the] face at [the] end of [the] day."
3. Best Micellar Water Makeup Wipes
If you're a fan of Garnier's micellar cleansing water, you'll be happy to know that the drugstore brand has developed a makeup wipe version of their liquid cleanser. Garnier’s SkinActive Micellar Makeup Removing Towelettes are fragrance- and oil-free wipes that rely on micelles to draw makeup, dirt, and oil away from the skin. These wipes are also formulated with silk fibers for a softer cloth that's less irritating as you swipe it across your skin.
Relevant Review: "My skin has really done well with micellar water. I use it at home with cotton pads and the liquid, but it's nice to have these wipes when I'm traveling to make the process easier. They are non-irritating for my sensitive skin and seem to do a good job of removing makeup and dirt. […]"
4. Best Makeup Wipes With Calming Ingredients
These makeup wipes were specifically designed for sensitive skin types that need a little extra soothing. Cetaphil's Gentle Makeup Removing Wipes are saturated with a formula that includes aloe vera, chamomile extract, green tea leaf extract, and cucumber extract to protect skin from five signs of sensitivity — dryness, irritation, roughness, tightness, and a weakened skin barrier. In keeping with the sensitive skin-friendly formula, the wipes are also fragrance-free, hypoallergenic, and non-comedogenic.
Relevant Review: "This is the first makeup wipe that I've used that doesn't irritate my skin or my eyes. It's a thicker wipe, which means it doesn't tear or fall apart. It removes my waterproof makeup easily. It doesn't burn or sting my sensitive skin, which is an issue I've had with other makeup wipes. It also doesn't turn my skin red after using it, which is another issue I've had with other wipes."
5. You May Also Like: These French Mineral Water-Infused Makeup Wipes
For a slightly elevated take on the makeup wipe, Vichy Laboratoire's Micellar Wipes count French volcanic water among their ingredients. Sourced from the Auvergne region in France, the water is naturally rich in minerals that help skin maintain a balanced pH level and strengthen its protective barrier. Vichy's micellar technology helps to remove makeup more easily, and vitamin E is also included in the formula to leave skin feeling soft.
Relevant Review: "These are fantastic facial cleansing wipes. Removes all traces of makeup but [is] gentle on my sensitive skin. My face is soft, clean, and looks amazing after using. These are by far the best cleansing wipes I've used."
Dr. Lindsey Zubritsky, M.D., FAAD, board-certified dermatologist