We use cleansing wipes in place of a real cleanser-and-water routine a bit more often than we’d like to admit. We’ve also been hearing some rumors about the potential negative side effects of using them regularly, which just about scared us back to soap and water every night yet again. That was probably a good choice.
“Cleansing wipes are a great option to wash away some of the dirt and grime when on the go, after the gym, or when getting home super late after a night of dancing, but they shouldn’t be viewed as a permanent substitute for twice daily cleansing at the sink,” says Dr. Marnie Nussbaum, a board certified dermatologist and chief medical spokesperson for Sebamed. “The active ingredients in makeup remover wipes are generally the same as regular cleansers: Both rely on surfactants, which dissolve makeup as well as help lift makeup, oil and dead skin.”
The biggest difference between cleansing wipes and a proper facial cleanser, she says, “is that without the added step of rinsing with water, wipes aren’t as thorough and leave behind a portion of the grime on your skin. Since you’re not rinsing the residue left behind, skin is often exposed to high concentrations of solubilizers and surfactants that can leave skin dry and irritated.”
As for what not to do? Dr. Nussbaum advises against using cleansing wipes for more than three days in a row. “When you’re back at the sink, make sure to replenish skin with a milky cleanser that will really emulsify leftover residue,” like Sebamed Liquid Face and Body Wash ($39.95, sebamedusa.com). She says of the cleanser, “It’s a great multi-tasking, soap-free milky cleanser that provides a gentle, deep cleansing of the pores while naturally conditioning the skin.”
Read more: 5 Great Makeup Removers for Sensitive Skin