Whether you're traveling or just having another hectic day, facial cleansing wipes are a quick, portable way to keep your face clean and your complexion clear. They travel well, won't leak and can easily make it past airport security. They're also a good quick fix when you're too tired to wash off your makeup before going to bed.
Most reviewers agree that liquid cleansers still outperform face wipes overall; even the best facial cleansing wipes have yet to strike the perfect balance between gentle ingredients, cleansing all makeup and not drying out your skin. Still, they're a much better option than skipping cleansing altogether.
The most effective face wipes we've found for cleansing makeup -- and cleaning all types of skin in general -- are Olay 4-in-1 Daily Facial Cloths (Est. $6 for 33-pack). These wipes are especially great for travel or occasional use because you don't have to worry about them drying out -- they come dry, and you wet them just before you use them. One side is smooth for cleansing your skin; the other is embedded with microbeads to gently exfoliate.
Although there are a few mixed reviews from people who say the ingredients in these wipes sting their eyes, most say they don't sting, are gentle enough for all skin types, and remove all makeup but the very toughest of waterproof mascara. "This cleanser is gentle enough for me to use around my eyes without irritation. These cloths leave my face clean and soft without needing to use an additional cleanser," writes one woman at MakeupAlley.com.
Already a great bargain, many users make these wipes go even further by cutting them in half -- they say each half is enough to do the job on its own. The only two downsides are that due to the petrolatum base and detergent cleanser, you must rinse your face after using these wipes; and they also contain propylparaben, an endocrine-disrupting preservative that customers are becoming increasingly determined to avoid.
One of the other wipes we evaluated, Simple Cleansing Facial Wipes (*Est. $5.50 for 25-pack), also contains propylparaben and methylparaben, another endocrine-disrupting preservative. It's the next-best effective wipe for removing makeup though -- and reviewers say that like the Olay wipes, these won't strip your skin of essential moisture.
They have a soothing feel and won't leave a sticky or greasy residue on your skin, although they may sting your eyes. The refreshing scent is a plus, but skin care expert Paula Begoun of PaulasChoice.com warns that one of the preservatives in Simple Cleansing Facial Wipes releases formaldehyde, so it's not a good choice for sensitive skin.
The gentlest of the facial wipes we evaluated is Pond's Original Fresh Wet Cleansing Towelettes (*Est. $5.50 for 30-pack). They don't list any parabens in the ingredient list and users say they smell great, are perfect for quick on-the-go cleanups, and are gentle enough for all skin types. However, they're so gentle they won't remove very heavy makeup or mascara, and a few users say you need to rinse off a slight residue they leave behind.