What comes to mind when you think of green beauty products?
Most of us would think of these points: a) Are the products made with natural ingredients? b) Are the ingredients organic? and c) Do they contain ingredients that are deemed harmful or less than desirable?
Another cornerstone of the green beauty discussion is on the environmental impact of our beauty habits. More often than not, packaging is made with non-biodegradable plastics that will definitely outstrip humanity’s time on earth (cue global warming).
Here, we are focusing on the first step in our beauty routine: The act of removing makeup from our skin. While the step might seem innocuous, think about the amount of makeup wipes, cotton pads and swabs you go through to remove the gunk from your face. Now multiply that amount by two if you’re wearing particularly stubborn waterproof mascara and eyelash glue.
According to a study by UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs published in the BBC, wet wipes account for 93 per cent of sewage blockages in the country. Moreover, 1 Million Women, an women-led movement that tackles climate change in Australia, adds that these wipes (which are made with non-biodegradable materials such as polyester) take more than 100 years to decompose.
Cotton, while biodegradable and comparably greener, is not any better either. Think about how we use these cotton wools and swabs once before they’re rendered useless and thrown out. This act of one-use-and-throw compounds the issue.
And we’re already discounting the fact that the makeup removing products that we use — micellar waters, cleansing balms, milks and the like — are contained in plastics to begin with.
But before you despair at the amount of waste makeup removing creates (don’t worry, we were there too), we’ve found a solution to go greener — chemical-free makeup removers.
What are chemical-free makeup removers?
As the name implies, chemical-free makeup removers don’t use chemicals (water is a chemical but we’re just going to ignore that, OK?) to lift and eradicate makeup from our skin. We’ve found two that are currently available in the market — Makeup Eraser and Face Halo.
Both of them work on a similar premise, that is, they’re both pieces of cloth that you’ll need to dampen with water before using it to wipe your makeup off. Makeup Eraser is an American label that uses a “patented blend of polyester” that has “millions of tiny hairlike fibres”. Once activated with water, these fibres are said to be able to reach into the pore and remove any makeup, debris and oil.
Face Halo, on the other hand, was created by Lizzy Pike, an Australian who has a background in fabric technology. The brand uses its HaloTech fibre strands, which it claims to be 100 times finer than a strand of human hair. Similar to Makeup Eraser, you just need to get the cloth wet and you’re ready to remove your makeup.
In addition, both of them claim to be suitable for sensitive skin as their products don’t require any harsh chemicals to remove your makeup. Unless of course, you’re allergic to water.
But being a skeptic, I’ve decided to give these makeup removers a test. After all, using water and a piece of cloth to remove makeup seems too easy and too good to be true, right?
To give you a clue on what these removers were up against, here’s what I wore on the days I gave them a trial — a long-wearing foundation, concealer, powder, bronzer, blush and a matte liquid lip. I usually depend on cleansing balms and oils such as the cult favourites from Shu Uemura, Farmacy or Clinique to remove my makeup.
It was a pleasant surprise that both of these products were able to quickly remove the makeup without much rubbing and tugging as they claimed. The matte lip required a few extra passes to remove but it didn’t rub my lips raw. Rather, it gave a nice touch of exfoliation and rejuvenated them. I’d also given my face a rubdown with micellar water and a cotton pad after using the cloths and it was clean without a spot of makeup on it.
While I didn’t get to test both brands’ ability to remove waterproof makeup, the Makeup Eraser and Face Halo are both marketed to be able to remove them easily. They do suggest however, to get the cloth extra wet with warm water and press it against the eye for a few seconds before wiping the waterproof liner or mascara off. As with the thin skin around the eye, you’d want to exercise caution and reduce rubbing motions because nobody wants those nasty premature wrinkles.
Cleaning the Makeup Eraser and Face Halo is fuss-free too. Just throw them into your washing machine and launder them as you would with your regular load. And if you like to include softener to your wash, you might want to skip that with the Face Halo as the brand states that it will reduce the fibres’ efficacy. For the Makeup Eraser however, softener can still be used.
The Makeup Eraser costs S$30 via Sephora and can be washed 1,000 times according to the brand, as such, the cost per wash is S$30 divided by 1000 = S$0.03.
The Face Halo is sold in packs of three via its website for AU$22 (about S$21), excluding shipping costs. Each Halo pad would cost about S$7 and can be washed around 200 times according to the brand, as such, the cost per wash would be S$7 divided by 200 = $0.035.
Winner: Makeup Eraser. The brand recommends using the cloth in selected areas, where you’d only wet the part that you’re using. As such, each Makeup Eraser can be used about five to six times before it gets completely soiled and would require washing. Of course, if you’re a germaphobe you can wash it after every wash, though this might impact its longevity. The Face Halo on the hand, only has two sides. I was only comfortable to use it once on each side before throwing it into the washing machine.
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The Makeup Eraser is about the size of a regular face towel while the Face Halo is about the size of a palm. I prefer to bring the Face Halo on my travels as they are way smaller and easier to pack. Plus, the Face Halo comes with fabric tab, so you can let it hang over a clothing hook in a hotel room to dry. Makeup Eraser didn’t have the same fabric tag and its larger size would also require more time to dry.
Winner: Face Halo.
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The Makeup Eraser was an utter joy to use. It was so soft and plush, and I felt like I was gliding a velvet towel over my face. There were no sensitivities at all. The Face Halo was comparatively rougher and felt a little scratchy after a few passes on the skin.
Winner: Makeup Eraser. It was so soft and soothing that I wouldn’t mind sleeping on it.
The Makeup Eraser is available in multiple colours — pink, black, blue and red — on Sephora. The colours make it a little difficult to ascertain the soiled level but they make pretty additions to your beauty routine. There are also more designs via their website.
Face Halo comes in the original white version (with black trim) and a pro edition that’s all black. The round shape is sleek and modern and easily to grip with your fingers.
Winner: Makeup Eraser. You can go fun and playful with the bolder, brighter colours or match your minimalist vibes with a chic all-black option.
Makeup Eraser! It cleaned as well as the Face Halo and had the added sensorial experience of being softer to the touch. Plus, when it comes down to its eco-friendliness, the Makeup Eraser can be used waytimes than the Face Halo before you’ve get a new one, which means you’ll definitely cut down on your need for makeup wipes and removers. We’re sold.
Text: Ho Guo Xiong
Additional text: Zoe Zeng
Image: Face Halo’s Instagram, Sephora