Which Are the Best Makeup Removing Towelettes for Sensitive Skin over 40?

Skin Care

cleansing wipes

OK. I’ll admit that removing my makeup before bed has not always been a habit I have followed with the dedication that it deserved, especially when my kids were young.  I was often dog-tired by the end of the day and anything that prolonged my collapse into bed was viewed, by me, with a jaundiced eye. It needed to be super important – up there with teeth-brushing, which I have maintained with a religious fervor, believing that it keeps me from transforming into a Beverly Hillbillies understudy. I wasn’t always convinced that makeup-removal met that same test. After all, I showered every morning, and I was wearing all natural mineral makeup – what could be bad about sleeping with ‘Mother Nature’ on your face?

Why Washing Your Makeup off is Important

Washing off makeup at the end of the day is an important part of good skin care.
Washing off makeup at the end of the day is an important part of good skin care.

As a number of skin care experts point out, even the most natural mineral makeup is still synthesized in a laboratory, because as one cosmetics chemist notes, “I’d like someone to show me a zinc oxide mine,” (WebMD), and FutureDerm’s Nicki reminds us in her article on the no-poo trend for hair that, “New technologies and their chemicals are not all bad. Some, in fact, are fantastic…” There are definitely chemicals in our makeup, and even if they’re good ones, we need to remove them from our face before bedtime!

Removing makeup help clean out our pores and helps to prevent breakouts due to clogged pores (Mayo Clinic). Removing makeup at the end of the day is also key to preventing over exposure to substances that have the potential to create allergic or inflammatory responses in our skin. One study at the University of Iowa (University of Iowa) suggests that removing makeup around the eye is especially critical. The skin around the eyes is thin and delicate, making it more susceptible to irritation from prolonged exposure to the various ingredients in mascara, eye shadow, eyeliner and more.

When I decided to incorporate makeup removal into my nightly routine, I decided to go with Philosophy Purity Facial Cleanser ($30.73, amazon.com) because I’ve always been a fan of the line. But some nights, as much as I hate to admit it, sometimes I forgo washing and instead reach for disposable makeup remover wipes.

The Contenders

In a previous post, I mentioned that my skin acts up sometimes now that I’m eyeballing 50, up close and personal, and I have found that while I could use almost anything without a reaction a few years ago, now I am much more sensitive and need to test anything I use, especially around my eyes. I wanted to evaluate some of the make-up remover wipes available today, so I tested the following over the past 2-week period:


Aveeno Ultra Calming Makeup Removing Wipes ($6.99, amazon.com)



Burt’s Bees Facial Cleansing Towelettes for Sensitive Skin


Equate Original Clean Facial Cleansing Towelettes ($15.99 for two, amazon.com)


Neutrogena Makeup Removing Cleansing Towelettes ($4.97, amazon.com)


Ole Henricksen’s Truth to Go Cleansing Wipes ($17, amazon.com)


Simple Cleansing Facial Wipe ($9.98, amazon.com)


Yes to Blueberries Age Refresh Towelettes ($10, amazon.com)

My Thoughts on Makeup Cleansing Wipes

Not all towelettes are created equal. While some just take off makeup, others benefit your skin in other ways.
Not all towelettes are created equal. While some just take off makeup, others benefit your skin in other ways.

The good news is that ALL of these worked and I would re-purchase most of them again without hesitation. The specifics then fall to personal preference.  Here are some of the observations I made during this testing period.

I have used Burt’s Bees for Sensitive skin off and on over the past year, and while it does not claim to remove waterproof eye make-up, it does a decent job at it.  The wipes that specifically list that they remove waterproof mascara in fact did a good job at removing it completely and without extra rubbing or wiping. The major difference between most of these wipes falls into the category of scent and texture of the cloth.

My hands-down favorite, that I might not have found without this test period, is the Aveeno Ultra Calming Makeup Removing Wipes. Listed as containing “Calming Feverfew” (a botanical that has been shown to exhibit anti-inflammatory and calming properties (NCCAM), these have a faint smell that is pleasing, not overly perfumed, but not the sterile “anti-scent” that often accompanies hypoallergenic products. In addition, the feel of the cloth is soft, almost like flannel. These are a definite must-have for those times when my skin is in need of TLC.

I am also a fan of the Ole Henricksen’s Truth to Go Cleansing Wipes, also nicely scented and have a similar substantial feel to each cloth. Both of these are effective in removing eye make-up, including waterproof mascara, and cause no after effects like sensitized skin or itchy eyes, which can sometimes appear the next day. And these have vitamin C and CoQ10, which add an anti-aging boost. These are definitely the best for an anti-aging towelette.

The Neutrogena Makeup Removing Cleansing Towelettes are also effective, but the total experience is not as nice as the Aveeno or Ole Henricksen wipes. The scent does not compare to the Aveeno and the cloth textures, while OK, fell short in softness in comparison to the Aveeno and Henricksen wipes. They also had nothing extra to offer, just very straightforward wipes, ingredient-wise.

I found the Simple skin care products one week when I was travelling for business and had “an episode” with my skin that required an increased level of TLC.  I like these products and they seem to live up to their claim, being the one brand I am able to use when I need super-sensitive treatment.  Like the Burt’s Bees Sensitive Skin wipes though, I found that the Simple Cleansing Facial Wipe, while kind and gentle to my skin, required a little more attention to remove mascara.

Lastly, I tested the Yes to Blueberries Age Refresh Towelettes which also do a nice job, but whose cloth is a bit coarser than the others. This may be intentional intended to serve as a ‘scrubbing’ effect, but it is definitely less soothing as a cloth than the Aveeno or Henricksen products. These have some beneficial ingredients in the blueberries and sweet almond oil, but they don’t have the same caliber of anti-aging ingredients as Ole Henricksen. I still like this product and am a fan of the company’s concept, having used the Yes to Carrots brand of moisturizers and lip balms for several years.

Bottom Line

The good news in all of this is that there are ample choices for removing make-up at the end of the day. Scented, unscented; lush flannel-like cloth or one with some texture for that really clean feeling. Some are definitely full of more beneficial ingredients than others. They are also reasonably-priced, which means we can test a couple to find the one that best fits our routine, skin preference and make-up removal needs. Given the many benefits of going to bed with clean, make-up-free skin, I am happy to report that this has made life simpler in terms of makeup removal.

What are you using? Which brands have you found work best for your specific combination of skin texture, sensitivities, and make-up? While I have found a few here that I like, I’m sure there are others I have missed!

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  • Maggie

    Thank for you this review! I have previously found cleansing wipes to be too rough against my skin (like the neutrogena) but I love aveeno and am willing to give their version a try–especially since you think it’s so soft. If it works well, I will have a new travel staple!

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