From 10-step skincare routines to debates surrounding the best way to exfoliate, skincare and beauty gurus have opinions about everything. The latest divisive topic among them seems to be single-use cotton pads.
Sure, single-use cotton pads are inexpensive and convenient. A multipack of cotton pads in the guest bathroom is a nice gesture, and can practically last a lifetime. However, according to WWF, 20,000 litres of water is used to produce one kilogram of cotton. This makes us wonder -- how many litres of water have gone into making the cotton pads we’ve used?
Thankfully, multitudes of skincare brands, like Poko, have embraced the idea of vegan, cruelty-free, eco-friendly, ethically-sourced skincare products. Sustainable solutions to single-use products are catching on, with skincare experts swapping out single-use cotton pads for reusable options.
How do single-use cotton pads affect the planet?
Cotton is a natural fibre. Technically, it’s biodegradable -- but that’s before it’s saturated in day-old foundation, toner, and nail polish remover. Even then, due to the cost-cutting and chemicals that go into the production process, some cotton pads aren’t biodegradable! MyWaste.ie states that used cotton wool cannot be recycled and that it should be placed in your general waste bin.
In addition to this, the chemicals that go into cotton-farming pollute their surroundings, seriously harming the environment. Organic cotton pads are readily available, but they’re still produced with 20,000 litres of waste. That’s a lot of waste for something you’ll only use once!
But do they affect me?
Did we mention that cotton pads and balls absorb more of your expensive oils, toner, and serums than their reusable counterparts? When applying your product of choice, more liquid gold goes into the fibres of these little pads than onto your skin. Having used cotton pads for so long, this isn’t something we like to think about, but it has to be said.
If that doesn’t change your mind, maybe this will -- switching to reusable makeup removal pads is a great little money-saving hack. Like those pesky disposable water bottles and coffee cups, you can breeze through a pack of single-use cotton pads fairly quickly. This means you’ll just buy another pack the next time you’re out, doing the shopping.
That is -- unless you simply pop your used cotton pads into the washing machine on an express wash, so they’re prepped and ready for your night-time routine. You’ll see the benefits fairly quickly, as some of these reusable cloths promise a lifespan of up to three to five years!
I’d like to go sustainable! What are my options?
The good news is that skincare brands are constantly adding to sustainability culture. A number of them make reusable makeup removal pads, cloths, and sponges. They come in a variety of materials -- bamboo, hemp, microfibre, rayon pulp, and muslin, to name a few. The list really is endless and only continuing to grow, we promise!
If you miss the feeling of cotton pads on your skin, fear not! Some of these reusable cleansing pads are sourced from organic cotton. You’ll get that familiar feeling, with none of the guilt. Just pop your reusable cleansing pads into the washing machine, instead of throwing them away, and you’re sorted.
Our favourite thing about reusable makeup pads is how pretty they can be! Reusable options come in a variety of colours (think of all those fun prints!) and sizes -- you can colour-code them for specific purposes. They’re definitely more aesthetically-pleasing than a pack of basic, single-use cotton pads, and more Instagrammable, to boot!