Face Wipes: So convenient, so bad for your skin!

For many, face wipes are a beauty essential. While they may save time, the chemical-heavy cloths can be incredibly irritating for sensitive skin.

Facial cleansing wipes have revolutionized the skincare industry, with almost every major brand developing their own variety.

They are however the one thing the majority of Pai customers simply cannot tolerate, with many reporting stinging, burning or redness after use.

In fact, a close friend of mine who isn’t prone to sensitivity at all, recently woke up with flakey, inflamed and itchy eyes after using a well-known brand of ‘gentle’ wipes nightly.

Why are face wipes bad for your skin?

While they are super convenient, by their very nature facial wipes have to be soaked in some pretty potent chemicals.

Moist cloths packed on top of each other are a breeding ground for bacteria.

They sit on shelves for up to 18 months on a warm shop floor, and so require high levels of preservatives, alcohol and anti-bacterial agents to keep them usable.

These harsh chemicals are then rubbed vigorously into the skin, particularly around the super-delicate eye area.

As well as irritation, high levels of alcohol can also cause extreme dryness and premature ageing.

Particular ingredients to watch out for are:
–    Propylene Glycol and Dipropylene Glycol (irritants)
–    Parabens (controversial ingredients, here’s why)
–    Phenoxyethanol (irritant)
–    2-Bromo-2-Nitropropane-1, 3-Dio (potent anti-microbial agent that carries the highest hazard rating, 8-10, on the Skin Deep Ingredients database. Read more here).

Why cream cleansers are better

Face wipes only remove impurities from the skin’s surface, and so have no other meaningful skin benefits.

A high-performance cream cleanser meanwhile can moisturise and condition skin at the same time, and carries far less risk of irritation.

Pai Camellia & Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser is completely chemical, irritant and alcohol-free, and its high levels of Omega 3, Vitamin A,B,C & E keep skin soft and supple.

Remember every part of your skincare regime contributes to a clear, glowing complexion, so there’s no point investing in a premium moisturiser and then using face wipes!

Do you find face wipes too harsh or do you find them too convenient to resist?

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  • Microdermabrasion

    Thanks for sharing the information on face wipes, i usually avoid to use cheap face wipes and advice others also to take Microdermarbasion Skin rejuvenation treatment rather using such unhygienic things. 

  • Gojilips

    I completely agree on the issue of wipes! As a skincare adviser and I wish my customers would stop using wipes. They are just too harsh, don’t cleanse deeply enough and leave residues on the skin that products cannot penetrate. It is just not worth using them just to save a few minutes at the basin. The hot cloth and balm or cloth and cream method is best. I love Pai’s cleanser, it is one of the best I have ever used. Good blog post! Keep up the good work!! 


  • Freddy

    On the rare occasion that I use face wipes – festivals, camping for example – I find that my skin looks lovely and clear for a couple of minutes and shortly after feels very tight, develops little dry patches and develops red blotches. Very much not worth it! But it would be lovely if there was a healthy-for-skin alternative in situations like the above when it’s not always easy to have a skincare routine.

  • http://www.freyaluna.com/ Sami

    I agree that these facial wipes are bad for the skin, no matter what the manufacturers say! When I used to use them they always made my skin dry and tight.

    But they are also bad for the environment – they are non-biodegradable. Just think about it, one person would use, on average, two wipes a day (morning and evening), in a month that’s around 60 wipes. Now, just imagine how many women (and possibly men?) use these cloths, and they all end up as land fill.

  • Cher Stewart

    There are biodegredable wipes out there…

  • Katie

    “Biodegradable” is a sales term, mostly. Most things don’t degrade unless exposed to sunlight, and in the mountains of waste that we produce, It’s even less likely. Also, you have to think about the energy, petroleum and trees it took to produce the cloths, the plastic packaging (which is not biodegradable), etc.

  • Cher Stewart

    Uh… I don’t produce mountains of waste and I compost. Speak for yourself!! Do you reuse all of the packaging of the skincare products you use? And really, trees? Use your brain, if the cloths are biodegradable, they probably come from something sustainable… hmmm… oh, that’s right, they are made from 100% organic biodegradable cotton. They also contain no chemicals or alcohol. It’s rather presumptuous of you to assume that anyone on Pai’s site would be falling to marketing ploys. I do my research, and these wipes are in recyclable packaging and the company is a certified member of the Carbon Balanced Paper project.

  • Susan Ripley

    Well ive used a type that’s supposed to be all natural and suitable for sensitive skin, paid a bit more than I normally do and they stung my face something rotten. They hadn’t been tested on animals. Had to stop using them and buy some different ones from our local chemist.

  • agir002

    I totally disagree. I have travelled the world looking for the perfect facial wipe for my sensitive/dry skin that also breaks outs in pimples. I found them in austrailia and they contain none of the ingredients above, are soft and velvety, remove all makeup, leave my skin soft and dewy and do not give me breakouts. My girlfriend with acne and oily skin also loves them

  • katniss

    what brand??

  • Victoria

    wotnot is the brand I think

  • http://theskiny.com/ Helen Vong

    I totally agree with you on this! I used to carry wipes in my gym bag but have since moved on the micellar cleansers for an equally convenient option Have you tried these yet?

  • mari

    That very much depends on the product formula and what the wipe is made off. I use a fabulous cleanser, a wellness sheet. It is fully biodegradable, made without PEGs, without parabens and without petrochemicals. It is made for airplane travelers and people with very sensitive skin. Is the gentliest cleanser I have ever used. Does not need water. Looking at the ingredients, I can tell you that it contains more nourishing ingredients than most day and night creams. When you use it, you actually feel not only refreshed, your skin stays fresh and does not dry out. I use it in combination with the brand’s Skin Power Facial Shower and that is all I use. The whole line is new, made in Europe. Intelligent natural skincare for the modern lifestyle. I love it. I believe, you can buy in the US now. Used to be only available on select planes. brand is Terra Maxima. They are single sheets, but you can reuse a few times. Mine last about 4 days per sheet. Good luck!

  • Natk

    I use face wipes to remove the majority of my make up then I cleanse properly after with a cream cleanser, I find using a cream cleanser on its on just doesn’t remove all my makeup.

  • Anonymous

    Do you use a cloth with the cream cleanser? That usually takes all makeup off. Otherwise you can always double cleanse, that will easily remove all makeup and cleanse your skin. x

  • Natk

    Hi, Yes I normally use a warm flannel to remove. Do you think using micellar water is better to use rather than wipes? I find double cleansing uses the cleanser up too quickly! x

  • Anonymous

    Fair point! Micellar waters differ from brand to brand, generally they can still contain irritating ingredients, but are less irritating overall than facial wipes. As always, just read the label so you are aware of what you are putting on your skin! I hope that helps. x

  • Natk

    Thanks for the advice! I will ditch the wipes, I think i may try the Avene water or Bioderma both seem good for sensitive skin x

  • Nina

    I have just bought the new Nivea face wipes and used them over the weekend… My face is on fire and completely dry… It has ruined my complexion which was lovely and smooth. Wat can I use to get rid of this pain?

  • Anonymous

    Hi Nina, poor you! Face wipes can be a real skin disruptor. I’d recommend switching to a very gentle cream cleanser like our Camellia & Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser, as well as using a calming and soothing moisturiser such as our Chamomile & Rosehip Sensitive Skin Cream. These products will both help to soothe and strengthen your skin whilst reduction any redness or irritation. For more in depth advice, you can email [email protected]. x

  • Hypochondriac?

    I used them for about a week before I noticed wrinkles on my face this morning. I’m a bit freaked out that I’ve already done permanent damage (am I being a hypochondriac?). Extremely visible lines on my cheeks have showed up and I immediately started moisturizing my face. Am I screwed? Has the damage been done? I seriously have the skin of a 50 year old right now.

  • Anonymous

    Don’t worry – you won’t have done any permanent damage in a week! It sounds as though your skin is just very dry. I’d recommend you stop using the wipes and switch to a gentle cream cleanser and hydrating moisturiser, such as our Chamomile & Rosehip Calming Day Cream. That duo should help to get your skin back on track. x

  • Billy Foley Trundle

    I agree!!! Horrid things these are there is no better feeling than cleansing your prescious face with a delicate cleanser and warm water that is gonna cleanse and HYDRATE your skin and leave your skin feeling FRESH! Remember guys your skin is the biggest organ on our body’s it’s critical to feed it with plenty of goodness

  • Anteater1997

    I stopped using face wipes several days ago from Simple because I heard the Ph wasn’t correct. But for face wipes I guess are like shaking an unwashed hand, it’s nice to happen but may have a bad outcome. I prefer creams now, much smoother :)

  • Anonymous

    Haha – good analogy!

  • Lalla Robinson

    Face wipes are not the solution to bad skin. Good skin starts in the gut. Up your intake of raw organic fruits and vegetables, organic spring or filtered water, switch to Himalayan salt, ditch processed foods and avoid all chemical toxins, including pesticides. That will get you results.

  • Kaash MyGold

    I’m not a lazy person and wash my face instead of just using wipes you can talk about how natural you’re face wipes may be but i feel unless I’ve washed my face properly wiping it don’t cut it for me just seems rather cheap and easy. And my skin is worth more then a easy cop out

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