A little while ago I wrote about zero-waste and plastic-free makeup, but today let’s chat about plastic-free makeup remover. My tips, techniques, and favourite products. I use the word ‘products’ loosely when it comes to make-up removal. There’s a good reason for that – 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. However, that, in turn, can make it a lot more expensive. This irks me because this means plastic-free swaps can be out of reach for many. The good news is that today we’re keeping things simple and accessible.
Plastic-Free Makeup Remover Options
Here are my top plastic-free makeup remover tips that are great for your skin, and great for the planet.
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1. Soap and 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’d say it’s my top plastic-free makeup remover.
I don’t wear a lot of makeup. It’s 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 of removing makeup superbly. Mostly, I would not use anything else – it really is such a superb plastic-free makeup remover.
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. Here is a guide to sustainable soaps, if you’re looking for a new brand. And 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
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 and other eye makeup 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 wild – 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 – and will all make for a great plastic-free makeup remover:
- 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 a tiny drop of 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. Whilst pouring oil down your drain is not recommended, this method does not block your drain, as you are using such minimal amounts of oil.
If your skin feels too oily after using the oil, you can use rosewater in a glass bottle as a toner.
You can also use oil to make homemade moisturising facial oil, which is great at keeping your skin soft and supple.
3. Solid Plastic-Free Makeup Remover Bars
If using oil from your kitchen as a plastic-free makeup remover doesn’t do it for you then Lush sells 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 onto 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. They 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. This 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?
PS: here’s a natural makeup brush cleaner recipe that might be up your street too.