Once And For All, Are Makeup Wipes Better Or Worse Than Facial Cleanser?

October 6, 2016 by Lisa Fogarty
shefinds | beauty

Makeup wipes and facial cleansers seem to be in a constant battle for the prize of becoming your number one must-have skincare product. While wipes are so darn easy–they require not a drop of water and can be stored on your nightstand for a quick pre-bed cleanse–we can’t help but wonder whether we should rely on them for all of our skin-cleansing needs. Is one superior to the other?

Turns out there are pros and cons to using both makeup wipes and facial cleansers–and your best bet has more to do with the type of cleanser or wipe you’re using, says Dr. Fayne Frey, a dermatologist and the creator of FryFace.

“The purpose of all facial cleansers and makeup cleansing cloths is to clean the skin (remove dirt and makeup), remove bacteria from the skin surface, and cause minimal damage to the skin’s superficial layer of epidermis, the stratum corner–the layer responsible for keeping the skin hydrated,” Frey says. “All cleansers work by either chemical action, by physical action (friction) or by some combination of the two.”

Cloth wipes, which can be dry or wet, often contain less surfactant (which you can think of like a detergent that removes makeup) than seen in liquid cleansers, which Frey calls an advantage.

“Dry cloths are moistened with water to create a lathering, cleansing wipe,” Frey says. “These dry cloths often contain moisturizing ingredients like petrolatum or glycerin. Dry wipes can cleanse, exfoliate, lather, and even moisturize. And since they often contain low levels of surfactants, they cause minimal damage to the skin surface.”

The wipe you select should suit your skin type–dry makeup wipes work well on all skin, while wet cloths, which don’t usually lather and can leave beneficial ingredients on the skin’s surface, may benefit very dry skin.

If wipes are the one trusty product you need by your side that will ensure you never go to bed without washing off your makeup again, by all means, stock up on them. Their ability to easily remove makeup around the delicate eye area without pulling or tugging will also help prevent your skin from over-stretching and losing its elasticity, says Vivian Cook, senior makeup artist and licensed esthetician at Sight Commerce.

But don’t give up on your cleanser just yet. Many are full of hydrating and anti-aging ingredients that can’t be found in most makeup wipes.

“Many cleansers have makeup removers in them as well as a number of skin-boosting ingredients such as hyaluronic acid for adding moisture to dry skin, salicylic acid for de-clogging pores, and vitamin A for anti-aging,” Cook says.

When in doubt, take Cook’s advice: use both wipes and cleansers–and enjoy one of the few times in life when you can have your cake and eat it, too.

For more beauty tips, check out are makeup counter makeovers really bad for your skin? and makeup you can buy straight off the runway.

Follow me at @lisacfogarty on Twitter.




Lisa Fogarty is a lifestyle writer and reporter based in New York who covers health, wellness, relationships, sex, beauty, and parenting.

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