Why Facial Cleansing Wipes Cause Acne

When I was in high school – or maybe even younger than that – because of my acne, my mother would simply tell me I’m not cleaning my face enough (those with acne, you know how it goes) and that I should clean my face with cleansing wipes. You know when you’re young, everything your parents tell you is God’s word but I learnt not to take advice on how to get rid of acne from someone who has never been through what I’ve been through.

I began using cleansing wipes and my face broke out something terrible. Seeing this, it was very clear that it was the cleansing wipes that had caused my breakout but I thought it was just that brand of cleansing wipes that didn’t agree with me so after stopping using them for a while altogether, I began to use another brand of cleansing wipes and my face was outraged that I didn’t listen to it the first time, so I stopped using them. It was probably a year later than after deciding I just have really sensitive skin, I should use the brand ‘Simple’ because they’re the sensitive skin experts, right? I hadn’t learned my lesson and I had another breakout so I put down the cleansing wipes forever. Well, not forever.

Years pass and we come to just a few weaks ago, I watched a video on youtube about improving your skin care routine the Korean way by adding in a section of pre-cleansing. This was about making sure all your makeup is removed thoroughly before you begin to cleanse your skin. And this included the very first step of using a facial cleansing wipe to take off your makeup (or most of it). This was part of the night routine. In the morning, you simply wake up and clean your face with another cleansing wipe. It sounds terrible as I type this, smh 😦 . However, after watching this video, like an idiot I thought, ah well, I’ve had really bad experiences with cleansing wipes but I’m older now, my skin probably won’t have the same reaction after all these years. I ended up using just over one pack of Simple Kind to Skin Micellar Cleansing Wipes (because micelle supposed to be the new big thing now, right?). I tell you now, the condition of my skin got worse and worse and worse. I remember looking into a mirror in a really brightly lit public bathroom and looking at my face, seeing what everyone else was seeing and just losing all my confidence. It was that day that I went home looked at my skin care routine and just stopped.

Now let my tell you why facial cleansing wipes are the worse thing to every grace our shop shelves with their presence.

The facts:

  • Chemicals, chemicals, chemicals. Facial cleansing wipes are packed with them. Imagine people working in labs, synthetically making up these preservatives and chemicals and putting them in a product and calling it “skin care” and marketing them that it’s good for your skin, because that’s exactly what happens. Even if they don’t give one acne, people have reported stinging, burning, or redness once they’ve used such wipes.
  • Moist towels on top of each other are paradise for bacteria. So why do they keep so long? Manufacturers add in lots of preservatives, anti-bacterial agents and alcohol (known to be very drying on skin and causes premature ageing) to the wipes so that they can be stored for sometimes 18 to even 24 months!
  • All of these chemicals are rubbed vigorously on the skin, especially the eye area and especially when trying to get through waterproof makeup. This not only causes irritation and sometimes swelling but also causes my micro-abrasions in this area. And because the wipes are soaked in surfactants (detergent-like chemicals), when these are rubbed into the micro-abrasions, they go under the skin’s surface, irritate it and cause it to look red and sore and of course speed up ageing (sagging and wrinkles).
  • Some of the chemicals added to the wipes are sometimes formaldehyde forming. Formaldehyde has been linked to cancer.
  • If you have dry skin with eczema or rosacea, cleansing wipes will dry out your skin even more.
  • And if you have sensitive skin, no matter what kind of brand you use, the high amount of preservatives will be there and can cause allergic reactions.
  • You’d think it’d be obvious but I only thought about it when I watched a video of a demonstration of super solution from The Face Shop (a Korean brand) that removed half a lady’s makeup off her face. Which means a lot of swiping across the face: When using facial wipes, you’re moving the sebum, dirt and bacteria – that has gathered on your face throughout the day – around your face. This clog pores and therefore triggers breakouts! You wouldn’t clean your ear with the same cotton bud you used to clean your right ear, would you? Moving bacteria from one place to another is something to avoid at all costs and wipes do just that.
  • The wipes also clog your pores because they leave a thick residue on your face after use which not only clogs your pores but also prevents any other skincare you may use after use of the cleansing wipes (cleansers, essences, creams, moisturisers) to absorb into your skin. So there’s no point in using the wipes and then packing on loads of moisturiser afterwards to avoid the dryness.
  • Essentially, “cleansing” wipes do not cleanse your skin. Cleansing wipes only remove the makeup and dirt that is visible on the skin’s surface, not the dirt that is in the upper layers of skin.
  • And here’s the thing: Your face should not be wiped. With anything! Any kind of wipes/towelette, face flannel or towel rubbing against your skin can lead to a deterioration of collagen over time. It is recommended you splash water onto your skin instead of rubbing your face with anything.

So just looking at the ingredients on the back of Simple’s Kind to Skin Micellar Cleansing Wipes, there are some pretty no-for-sensitive-skin ingredients.


What can we do instead?

Facial cleansing wipes should only be used as a very last resort but even then I wouldn’t use them myself. I would find another way to cleanse.

Taking some extra time before we go to bed and when we wake up in the morning to really cleanse our skin in the proper way is so important. Our skin needs to cared for and baby-ed in the right way and it will visibly thank us when we do just that. So pay attention to what your skin is telling you. 🙂

Research links credit:

Cleansing Wipes Could Be Causing Acne, Spots, Wrinkles, and More
youtube /watch?v=bXB7y7j5C_c


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2 thoughts on “Why Facial Cleansing Wipes Cause Acne

  1. I read this on the right time… I started using facial wipe in mid of June and today I got zist and small pimple on my forehead and apples of my cheeks… but after reading this I’m not gonna use it. Thanks 🙂


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