Zero-waste and eco-friendly ways to remove makeup

Kaycee Enerva

Kaycee Enerva


Makeup is a great way to express one’s self. It doesn’t even require a certain gender to wear it in today’s era! Boys, girls, LGBTQIA+ included. However, it has to be removed at the end of the day, and it’s not always easy. There are numerous products in the market to remove makeup – from cleansing pads to micellar water – but not all of them are eco-friendly.

Both applying and removing makeup can contribute to excess waste. But fret not, aside from avoiding plastic bottles, there are several alternatives to remove makeup that is zero waste and better for your face – and the planet!

The beauty industry is far from innocent in contributing to the planet’s pollution. It produces 120 billion packaging units annually – most of which aren’t refillable or recyclable. Household and personal care products (including makeup wipes) account for 38 per cent of the volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions polluting the air in major cities – rivalling that of vehicles.

Thankfully, beauty companies are taking note – and taking action. In this feature, we have curated some popular zero-waste and eco-friendly makeup remover alternatives that you can try!

Zero-waste and eco-friendly ways to remove makeup

Reusable makeup removing pads or wipes

Single-use cleansing wipes take hundreds of years to break down as they’re stockpiled in landfills. The makeup-removing pads we’ve listed below can be used several times, made from eco-friendly materials – and even be composted or recycled!

Cerave Hydrating Makeup Removing Plant-based Wipes

Zero-waste and eco-friendly ways to remove makeup

Material: 100 per cent plant-based fibres

Why we like it: Developed alongside dermatologists, the wipes are non-comedogenic and gentle for skin, eyes and lashes.

The formula is packed with glycerin and essential ceramides, is super hydrating and won’t disrupt your skin’s protective moisture barrier (read: cause dryness or irritation). 

The best part? The wipes are home compostable!

Garnier SkinActive Micellar Eco Pads

Zero-waste and eco-friendly ways to remove makeup

Material: Polyester

Why we like it: Garnier Micellar Reusable Eco Pads are reusable and washable up to 1000 times per pad. They work just like a regular cotton pad, are just as soft and can be used not just with makeup removers but also for toners, lotions, and serums. 

To clean them, simply handwash with gentle soap and water. 

Clean Circle Reusable Bamboo Velour Skincare Pads

Zero-waste and eco-friendly ways to remove makeup

Material: Bamboo fibre

Why we like it: Clean Circle’s reusable skincare pads are soft, luxurious, and great to use with cleansing oils to remove makeup from your face. They can also be used to apply toners and serums to your face, neck, and collarbone. The company claims a single pad can replace thousands of disposable cotton pads. It also saves more product because it absorbs less product and applies more to your skin. 

The pads are free from harmful chemicals and are ethically made with fair worker wages. 

Pinowu Reusable Bamboo Makeup Remover

Zero-waste and eco-friendly ways to remove makeup

Material: Natural bamboo fibre

Why we like it: The super soft pads work to clean deep into pores and effectively pull all traces of makeup, sunscreen, and cosmetics off. Because of their soft bamboo fabric, they are gentle to use, even for the most sensitive skin – and even in the delicate eye area. 

These 16 palm-sized makeup remover pads are equivalent to 2000 disposable cotton rounds.

Tabitha Eve Bamboo Makeup Pads

Zero-waste and eco-friendly ways to remove makeup

Material: Organic cotton

Why we like it: Unlike other reusable cotton pads, Tabitha Eve’s can absorb a lot of product, and make it easy to remove makeup in one wipe. They are made from vegan and cruelty-free organic cotton with two sides. One is textured for thorough cleansing, the other with softer cotton flannel for sensitive skin or the eye area. 

Once the product reaches the end of its life, it can be recycled or composted.

How do you use reusable makeup remover pads?

Either saturate the pad with makeup remover or wet it with warm water, advises Uslan. “Apply a gentle facial cleanser or oil and begin with circular motions to remove any makeup and residue off the skin.”

How do you clean reusable makeup remover pads?

To clean the reusable pad or cloth, simply handwash it with gentle soap and lay it on a towel to dry. Leaving it under sunlight once a week is great for killing bacteria. 

Use natural oils to remove makeup.

If you want to take an extra step to zero waste, natural oils work just as well, if not better, than cosmetic makeup removers. Many plant oils we’ve listed below not only help remove makeup but can also offer skin care benefits like repairing its barrier and have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. 

Almond Oil

Zero-waste and eco-friendly ways to remove makeup

Almond oil will clean your pores and will remove any remnant of makeup very efficiently. It will take away all your makeup without any effort. If you are wearing any waterproof eyeliner or mascara which is just not going off, you can just take a bit of this oil and rub it gently onto your lashes

Avocado Oil 

Zero-waste and eco-friendly ways to remove makeup

An unconventional use for avocado oil is as a makeup remover. Simply rub a small amount on your face and wipe it off with a cloth or a reusable makeup pad. It is gentle for your skin but tough to remove makeup or sunscreen.

Coconut Oil 

Zero-waste and eco-friendly ways to remove makeup

Coconut oil works best as a makeup remover when warmed up since the temperature helps melt makeup faster. So, either rub it on your palms and apply to your face or warm it up in the microwave for about 10-15 seconds. Be careful not to burn yourself, and test it on the back of your hands first!

Jojoba Oil 

Jojoba oil has various healing properties that may make it effective in treating skin conditions like acne, eczema, and psoriasis. It is also non-comedogenic, meaning it does not clog your pores which can cause acne! 

Olive Oil

Zero-waste and eco-friendly ways to remove makeup

More than just a great salad dressing, olive oil does wonders for your skin as a makeup remover too. When used as a natural makeup remover, olive oil can help dissolve the oil in your makeup products (remember: oil attracts oil, and water attracts water. To use it as a makeup remover, we recommend massaging it n circular motions and then rinsing it with warm water.)

Final thoughts

These zero-waste and eco-friendly makeup remover alternatives are not only great for your skin and the planet but also even more affordable than standard makeup removers – especially reusable ones. Unlike typical removers that are single-use, these can be used countless times and they can even be composted or sent to the recycling centre at the end of their lifespan. 

Kaycee Enerva

Kaycee Enerva

A digital content manager based in the Philippines, Kaycee Enerva has written for multiple publications over several years. A graduate of Computer Science, she exchanged a career in IT to pursue her passion for writing. She's slowly practicing sustainability through period cups, and eating more plant-based food.



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