HomeThe science of cosmeticsHow Does Make-Up Work?How do make-up wipes work?

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Cleaning 'On the Go'

The use of cosmetic wipes or "wet wipe" products has dramatically increased in popularity in recent years as they sit comfortably alongside the fast pace of modern life. They provide a convenient solution to helping people keep clean and refreshed when time is short and can often be found in many places outside the home such as the workplace, handbags, sports bags, cars and other places where water and skin cleansing products such as soap or hand washes are not readily available.

Originally developed in the mid 1950s primarily to supply individual wipes to services such as caterers and airlines, wet wipes are now commonly seen in shops all over the world for a number of different uses including:

  • baby wipes

  • facial skincare wipes

  • toddler wipes

  • feminine hygiene wipes

  • wipes for spots and problem skin

  • refreshing hand wipes

  • moist toilet tissue

  • nail polish removal pads

How do wet wipes work?

Wet wipes consist of two main parts; the non-woven wipe and the liquid product. The liquid is classed as a cosmetic product and will be subject to the strict safety laws covering all cosmetics.

Although the cleansing products used in wipes are formulated specifically for wipes, they contain many of the same ingredients found in other skincare products. For example;

  • surfactants to help with the removal of dirt from the skin;
  • moisturisers and emollients to condition the skin;
  • fragrance;
  • preservatives;
  • anti-microbial / anti-bacterial agents; and
  • pH buffers to ensure that the wipes are matched to the pH of the intended area of application.

Many different types of wipe materials are available, each with different properties that allow them to carry out a particular function.

  • Baby and facial wipes are selected for their softness and ability to retain the dirt that is being removed from the skin.

  • Exfoliating wipes are slightly less soft and work by gently rubbing away dead cells from the surface of the skin, helping it to look refreshed.

  • Moist toilet tissue products are required to be flushable and to break down as swiftly as possible whilst retaining enough strength to perform appropriately.

Wet wipe products are carefully developed to ensure that they have the correct level of wetness to do the intended job - not too wet or too dry, while remaining convenient and ready to use throughout their intended shelf life. The thickness of the liquid has to be carefully controlled to ensure that it spreads easily across the whole wipe ready for application on to the skin.

Information on the wipe itself is available from the European association for nonwoven and engineered fabrics, EDANA. The website also highlights EDANA's campaign on flushability.

Remember it is important not to dispose of non-flushable wipes down the toilet. Non-flushable wipes will be clearly identified on-pack either in words and/or via the non-flushable logo.

Bin It, Don't Flush It

Remember it is important not to dispose of non-flushable wipes down the toilet. Non-flushable wipes will be clearly identified on-pack either in words and/or via the non-flushable logo.

The logo has been developed by the European Association for Nonwoven and Engineered Fabrics (EDANA), which is running a flushability campaign to highlight the importance of disposing of wipes properly.

Only wipes labelled 'flushable' can be flushed down the toilet, because they are able to pass through the wastewater treatment systems. Wipes which should be thrown away into the bin will be labelled with the logo or the words “do not flush”. If in doubt, bin it, don't flush it.

New Innovations

As the popularity of wet wipes increases so do the types and functions of the products available such as: biodegradable wipes; organic wipes and smaller sizes for use on specific areas of the body such as the nail and around the eyes. From being just cleansing products, wipes are increasingly including additional functions such as anti-ageing, moisturisation and deodorising.

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