Health & Beauty, Life & Style

Plastic-Free Makeup Remover Tips, Techniques and Products

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A little while ago I wrote about zero-wate and plastic-free makeup, but today let’s chat plastic-free makeup remover.  My tips, techniques and favourite products.  I use the word ‘products’ loosely – you’ll soon see why!   

Sometimes making a plastic-free swap involves swapping from something cheap and single-use to something that’s more durable, but in turn a lot more expensive.  This irks me because this means plastic-free swaps can be out of reach for many, but today we’re keeping things simple and accessible.  

Plastic-Free Makeup Remover Options

1. Soap & A Flannel


Capitalism and consumerism have brainwashed us into believing that we need complex laboratory engineered solutions to simple things, such as removing makeup, when really we don’t. We need to push back against the expensive glossy marketing campaigns and embrace simpler solutions. And when it comes to taking off your makeup at the end of the day then, really soap, it’s where it’s at, I promise you.

I don’t wear a lot of makeup (not my skillset!) but I do wear some from time to time. Since my teens, I’ve always sworn by the fact that soap and a simple flannel ( or facecloth, washcloth, or whatever you want to call it) does the job at removing makeup superbly and I mostly would not use anything else.

I’m not fussy about which soap I use – I just use the same bar that I use to wash my hands and my body. If you have sensitive skin then you might want something extra gentle, but you do what works for you.

My facecloths aren’t fancy either, just your run of the mill ones I’ve had for years. Using a facecloth is slightly exfoliating, so you don’t even need to buy an exfoliator. Win! I then just pop these cloths in the wash once I’m done. Easy!

2. Natural Oils for Removing Makeup

Most of the time, for my needs, soap does the job. However, if I’ve used mascara then I often find I need a little something else to shift it. Particularly I find that I need something that can gently remove mascara without having to rub hard on my poor eyes. This is when I raid the kitchen cupboard for some natural oil. I promise I’ve not gone crazy – most natural oils do a great job at removing makeup.

Here are just some of them – some of which you probably have to hand in your kitchen cupboard:

Avocado oil

Coconut oil

Jojoba oil

Olive oil

Sweet Almond oil

Carbon footprint wise, if you’re in the UK then olive oil made in the EU (Spain, Italy or Greece are big producers of olive oil) probably has the lowest of the carbon footprints because it travels the least distance to get to us, compared to avocado, coconut or almonds which are all grown much further afield. Something to bear in mind that can’t be repeated enough – just because something is plastic-free doesn’t make it better if it has to travel thousands of miles to reach us – local is almost always better (even if it comes in plastic).

How do you remove makeup with oil? I find massaging in some oil with my fingers removes even the most stubborn of eye makeup.

I then run a flannel/facecloth under warm water, before wringing it out a little so it’s not soaking wet. Next, I place the warm flannel on my face, leaving it for a few seconds before I wipe the oil off with the flannel. I then dry my face and moisturise as usual.

If your skin feels too oily after using the oil, you can use rosewater in a glass bottle as a toner.

3. Solid Plastic-Free Makeup Remover Bars

zero waste plastic free makeup remover

If using oil from your kitchen as a plastic-free makeup remover doesn’t do it for you then Lush sell completely packaging-free solid makeup remover bars for around £5. These bars are still oily but aren’t as slippy to use as a glass bottle of oil in your bathroom. Safety first!

To use rub the bar in your hands to release the oils (or swipe it directly on to your face). Then rub the oil into your skin and then remove the oils with a wipe or flannel.

My lovely reusable makeup removal pads were kindly gifted to me by Helen Round, a Cornish maker. Helen and her team make the super-soft pads by hand in her Cornwall studio and are a great buy if you are looking to swap from single-use wipes or pads.

You can also make your own makeup removal pads using this free crochet pattern. If that’s too tricky (I can’t crochet either!) then if you (or a crafty friend) have an old towel (maybe one that’s got a few holes and you were thinking about binning) then you can cut it up into squares to make your own pads. You might want to hem the sides to prevent fraying.

If these options are out of reach then you can 100% just use a facecloth. Let’s not overcomplicate matters or make something simple inaccessible.

What about DIYing Makeup Remover?

I’m a big fan of DIYing – I love making my own products and messing around in my kitchen. For the last little while, I have tried making my own makeup remover solution with a range of different ingredients. In the end, I found nothing as simple, effective, low waste and as low cost at removing makeup as either soap or natural oil, which served as a good reminder to me that not everything has to be complex to work!

Do you have a good plastic-free makeup remover solution? Are you a soap or oil fan? Maybe not convinced to make the switch?

weekend links

Ten Things

peaches come from a can they were put there by a man in a factory down town

Man alive, it’s been hot. Unless you’ve been living in an actual cave, you’ll know that temperature records were set this week across western Europe. We will no doubt have to get used to temperature records, and other extreme weather records, being smashed on a regular basis. I’ve been finding this climate mood flow chart useful – do something!

What has your ‘something’ been this week? I emailed my local MP using this handy template from Mothers Rise Up. In case you missed it, our new Environment Minister backs fracking so we need public pressure on our MPs to prioritise action on climate change.

This week’s links:

1. 12 Years to Save the Planet? Critical decisions must be made within the next 18 months.

2. Carbon offsetting schemes aren’t working.

3. The world is literally on fire – so why is it business as usual for politicians?

We need to significantly change our behaviour and, even more importantly, overhaul our economic system. After all, only 100 companies are responsible for 71% of global emissions. You know all this already; we all do. But our politicians still are not taking meaningful action. Capitalism is carrying on with business as usual. The world is literally on fire – and it feels as though we are fiddling with paper straws while it burns”.

4. Environmentalism is a black issue.

We live in pollution, play around it, work for it and pray against it. Hell, we even sing about it. Black women are everyday environmentalists; we just don’t get the headlines too often.

Rarely do we see or hear black voices as part of national conversations about policy solutions, the green economy or clean energy. We’re relegated to providing a comment on environmental justice issues like the water crisis in Flint; or we’re the faces in the photos when candidates need to show that they’re inclusive when talking about climate solutions.

5. Those who look for climate change-related information on YouTube are more likely to stumble upon conspiracy theories than real science.

6. I love this approach to stop hunting in the Great Bear Rainforest in Canada, where animals like black bears, wolves and cougars can still be legally killed as trophies – a conservation group is buying up all the licenses.

The ultimate goal of Raincoast is to buy all commercial hunting licences in the 64,000 square kilometres of the Great Bear Rainforest, so the area will be protected not only from trophy hunters, but also political whims. In 2002, for instance, the Liberal government scrapped the short-lived ban on grizzly hunting brought in by the former NDP government.

The organization also hopes that, by eliminating the need for governments to compensate tenure holders, it will remove a major disincentive to restrict trophy hunting of other species.

However, everything depends on Raincoast’s capacity to fundraise and, unless there is a massive cash donation, not all offers to sell tenures can be immediately accepted“.

7. Why the lawnmower must die.

It does not make sense for rich countries to demand that less developed countries in the Global South keep their forests standing when we are importing agricultural commodities from them that we could have grown ourselves locally but chose not to because of our love of ornamental little patches of grass. The crops they grow for our markets replace the forests we need to sustain life on Earth.

Vegetable patches, allotments, orchards and all forms of regenerative agriculture provide much more habitat for wild species like endangered butterflies and hedgehogs then do lawns whilst also massively reducing the ecological impact of food production. An effective response to global ecological breakdown requires us to change the way we use land, not just in distant, exotic places, but also immediately around where we live”.

8. I’m an ordinary person who joined an Extinction Rebellion blockade. Here’s why you should too.

I am an ordinary mid-career professional. I work a nine-to-five job in the city, and I’m well respected and growing in my career. I have never broken the law. And recently, I joined Extinction Rebellion, blockading traffic.

I have never done anything like this before. It was way out of my comfort zone, and I felt like vomiting at the idea. But climate change makes me want to vomit even more. I am a scientist, and I can say with confidence: the science is absolutely terrifying. So I went“.

9. Zara’s quest for sustainability reveals the limits of fast fashion.

10. Finally, a reminder that the most sustainable thing is the thing you already own.


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