How to Stop Cleansing Wipes From Ruining Your Face

Cleansing cloths can cause a multitude of gross, avoidable issues—but there is a better way

Dan Watson.
For those with naturally oily skin, cleansing wipes could bring breakouts and an always-greasy face.

After last week’s column about how to wash your face several people asked, “Why can’t I just use a wipe?”

Would you ever put cleanser on your face, smear it around, and then not rinse? That’s effectively what you’re doing when you use a wipe: pushing bacteria, dirt, oil and the remnants of your makeup around your skin—and letting it sit there. Cleansing cloths can cause a number of gross, avoidable issues. Among other things, they’re a fast track to enlarged, clogged pores. For those with naturally oily skin, this is just asking for breakouts and an always-greasy face. For others, the alcohol necessary to keep wipes fresh in the package can make dry skin even more parched.

In short, just wash your face—for real.

That said, camping, flying, and any situation without running water can make wipes a necessary evil. You can just about get away with using one if you either use a good cleanser afterward—which sort of defeats the point—or ‘rinse’ with a spritz from a bottle of Avène Thermal Spring Water ($9). But don’t just let the water sit on your face. Clear it off with a dry washcloth or cotton pad.

It’s also crucial to follow any wipe with a chemical exfoliator to really get all that junk off the surface of your skin. Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel (five treatments for $16 or 35 treatments for $88) and First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads (28 pads for $15 or 60 pads for $30) are travel-friendly products you can also use at home, morning and night, to eliminate residue and old skin cells.

But not all cleansing cloths are created equal: Save the baby wipes for babies’ bottoms. Yes to Tomatoes Clear Skin Detoxifying Charcoal Facial Wipes ($5.99 for 30) are thick, durable, and gentle enough for acne-prone skin. Simple Skincare Cleansing Facial Wipes ($5.00 for 25) are available in just about every drugstore, yet are free from the mineral oil and other nasties that tend to show up in budget options. On the premium skincare tip, Ole Henriksen Grease Relief Cleansing Cloths ($15) are a safer choice for oily skin, while The Clean Truth Cleansing Cloths ($15) give an exfoliating, brightening boost with vitamin C.

Jackie Danicki created one of the first and most popular beauty blogs in 2004, and has consulted some of the world’s most iconic brands on digital content strategy and innovation. Jackie blogs at, and you can find her onTwitterInstagram, and Snapchat as @burnedoutbeauty.

How to Stop Cleansing Wipes From Ruining Your Face