White, round reusable makeup pad from Tabitha Eve with soap in a dish on a bathroom sink in the background
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Product Review: Reusable Makeup Pads

The second product review looks at a reusable makeup pads. Switching to washable pads means that you are not only reducing waste, but also your resource use. Using less cotton can make a particularly big difference as it is a very resource-intensive crop. After starting to use reusable pads myself, I immediately wondered: Why didn’t I make this swap earlier? Or rather, why haven’t we thought of this before? It’s such an easy and effective swap that just seems to make sense.

You can find a selection of makeup pads in my online shop here.

What are they?

Reusable makeup pads are a great alternative to single-use cotton wool balls and pads. After use they can simply be put into the washing machine to be cleaned and reused, instead of being thrown into the bin!

How do they work?

Reusable pads work exactly like their single-use counterparts: Apply your favourite cleanser or toner and wipe your face. Alternatively, you can simply wash your face with water if your makeup is water-soluble and remove any makeup streaks with a dry cotton pad.

If your makeup is not water-soluble some discolouration may occur over time. The sooner the pads are washed, the less likely they will become stained. Applying soap directly to the stains before washing can also help in keeping them clean.

What are they made of?

Most pads are made from cotton, but some use a mixture of cotton and bamboo. The fleece side of the pad is very soft, ideal for wiping your eyes. Look out for organic materials for extra eco points! Tabitha Eve make white round makeup pads from a mixture of cotton and bamboo that look exactly like single-use cotton pads. Alternatively, most other makers make square pads with a soft cotton fleece and a pretty, colourful fabric side.

What are the pros and cons?

The biggest advantage is that you won’t have to by cotton pads again. The reusable pads should last you a long time and will be worth the initial investment by saving you money in the long run.

The fact that you will have to remember to wash them can be seen as a disadvantage. To avoid running out, just add any used ones to your washing pile, so they will end up in the washing machine automatically. Put them into a washbag to make sure that they don’t get lost (I don’t know if things still disappear in the washing machine or if it’s just a myth). Over time, the pads may get discoloured, but some pads are made from coloured cotton and colourful fabrics, so any staining is less visible.

What makes them eco-friendly?

By reusing pads instead of throwing them away after a single use you are reducing the amount of cotton you use and with that the amount of resources that is associated with producing it.

The production of cotton requires large quantities of water, pesticides and fertilizers, making current production methods unsustainable. Water is often diverted from nearby rivers and lakes, which leads to a drying up of soils and water bodies. A famous example is the Aral Lake in Central Asia, which had been reduced to 10% of its original size by the late 1990s to the extraction of water for farming (mainly cotton production).

Conventional cotton production uses more pesticides than any other crop, polluting groundwater and rivers. If pesticides are used on a regular basis, pests often develop resistance. Furthermore, they don’t only kill the pest, but also their natural enemies, which disturbs the natural balance of ecosystems. The extensive use of fertilizers also interferes with ecosystems by increasing the nutrient content in the water. This can lead to algae blooms, which use up all the oxygen in the water and kill the natural flora and fauna.

The use of pesticides and fertilizers doesn’t only pose a risk to the environment, but also the workers. Small farmers in developing countries often don’t have adequate equipment and knowledge about how to handle the chemicals properly.

And finally, the production of fertilizers in the first place releases large amounts of carbon dioxide emissions, which contribute to climate change.

Therefore, reducing the amount of cotton we use can substantially reduce our environmental footprint. It is also worth looking out for organic cotton, as organic farming methods use less water and avoid the use of pesticides and fertilizers. Instead, organic farming relies on natural methods, avoiding pollution and enhancing biodiversity.

Who makes them?

If you are buying from small businesses, you can be pretty sure that the makeup pads are handmade (locally) by independent makers, mainly women. Have a look if you can find a maker near you. Cheaper versions may appear on the selves of High Street shops, which are probably made in China. So, always check the label!

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