COTTON pads are a staple when it comes to bathroom cabinets, and our beauty routines – except, despite being made of cotton, they’re not as good for the planet as reusable ones as they’re single use and often not sourced responsibly.
So that’s where some of the best resuable cotton pads come in, as you simply wash and reuse them – plus, if you’ve got sensitive skin, many only need a splash of water to remove even the most stubborn mascara stains.
Climate change isn’t going away, so we should all be trying to make aspects of our lives more sustainable, whether that’s throwing out single-use water bottles and coffee cups, or cycling instead of driving.
Now’s the time to bid a happy farewell to non-degradable, non-recyclable cotton pads too!
The benefits of reusable cotton pads isn’t only the environment, they’re also quite luxurious to use as they’re made from microfibres or sustainable bamboo, making them gentle on your skin.
Plus, they’ll help save you money on buying shed loads of cotton pads, and on make-up remover as a splash of water can help remove all sorts from our face.
One of our favourite parts? Most of them come packaged in sweet washable bags that will complement your bathroom-display of trendy necessities too.
There are so many different brands to choose from, which is why we have listed the best reusable cotton pads to buy now. We’ve even tested some out for you to save you from feeling, well, spoilt for choice. You and your beauty routine are so welcome.
This article and any featured products have been independently chosen by The Sun journalists. All recommendations within the article are informed by expert editorial opinion. If you click a link and buy a product we may earn revenue: this helps to support The Sun, and in no way affects our recommendations.
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We tested: HUKU reusable makeup remover pads
HUKU Reusable make up remover pads (16 pack), £9.99 from Amazon – buy here
Did you know that it’s estimated that one reusable HUKU pad is equivalent to using 300 single-use cotton pads?
This plastic-free brand includes a stylish biodegradable storage case, wash bag and 16 hypoallergenic bamboo cotton pads, so we decided to try them out.
The packaging was enough to sway us before we even tried the pads: from the yellow box to the little cream wash-bag, we were already half won over.
Huku’s pads are made from soft bamboo cotton that definitely feels gentle on your face, but they’re not as fluffy as some reusable pads on the market.
After reading on the box that mascara might be difficult to budge, we were starting to wonder if they would actually remove our make-up, yet all they needed was lots of warm water and we managed to remove every last smudge, even eyebrow pencil and mascara.
They’re definitely a must-have for those who go through lots of cotton pads to use with make-up remover, toner or micellar water, although when used alone as a make-up remover, they’re not as speedy as others are.
We tested: Face Halo The Modern Makeup Remover
Face Halo The Modern Makeup Remover, £18 for 3 from Cult Beauty – buy here
Face Halo is the reusable make-up remover wipe that’s quickly become a cult-favourite.
This pack contains three Face Halo pads: circular, fluffy, microfibre towels with fibres that are 100 times finer than human hair for a deep, deep clean. After doing our reserach, we discovered that fans swear these pads really do take make-up off with water and a swipe. We decided to see if they live up to their reputation.
First of all, we have to mention how soft these pads are, they feel really gentle against your face. After rinsing one of the pads with warm water, we swiped it over our full face of makeup and were shocked at how quickly it was removed without having to actually scrub, even mascara!
As they’re white, the dirt obviously shows up quite a lot so after you’ve used both sides, they’re hard to clean with only soap and water. You need to actually put them in the washing machine to have them good as new for another use.
They definitely did the job though, removing all of our make-up, yet it doesn’t feel like enough to entirely cleanse your face so we proceeded to use face wash afterwards.
You can wash them up to 200 times, so we’re definitely here for Face Halo as a sustainable and effective make-up remover option.
We tested: GLOV Moon Pads
GLOV Moon Pads, £8.90 for 5 from Look Fantastic – buy here
GLOV is another brand to know for sustainable, reusable cleansing cloths, pads and mitts.
Made from microfibres, Moon Pads – which come in eco starch packaging that only takes a year to decompose – replace nearly 500 single-use cotton wool pads each, and are ideal for make-up removal.
Being bright pink and fluffy, they’re definitely the prettiest pads around, so we decided to see if they do the job well, too.
First impressions? GLOV Moon Pads are ridiculously soft and fluffy, so much so that they don’t really look like cosmetic pads that you want to dirty in mascara and foundation.
However, once rinsed in water, they remove your make-up really easily, while feeling gentle on your face. Once you’ve finished wiping away your make-up, all it takes is some warm water and a touch of soap to quickly clean the pads.
Our only criticism is that they don’t look particularly sturdy as you can see the seam around the edges, but honestly, these are our favourite reusable pads that we have tried out so far.
Waxzaa Reusable Makeup Remover Pads (23 pack), £7.99 from Amazon – buy here
This 23-piece set of reusable cotton pads includes a mesh laundry bag and simply requires you to add cleanser or water to the pad to remove any dirt or make-up.
Suitable for all skin types, they’re made of 70 percent bamboo, which is sourced responsibly and sustainbly, and 30 percent organic cotton – meaning they’re super soft, even on the most sensitive skin.
Each pad is chemical-free, and made from two layers of bamboo, which the brand estimates can be used 1,000 times.
The mesh laundry bag means you can transport them easily, maybe even to the gym and back, then chuck them in the laundry (on a 30 degree wash) once used if they need an extra bit of TLC.
Best reusable microfibre cotton pads: Smuka microfibre makeup remover pads
Smuka Reusable Makeup Remover Pads Organic, £10.99 from Amazon – buy here
Made from high-quality microfibre, these organic cotton cloth pads have three layers to thoroughly remove make-up and apply toner to the skin.
The microfibre qualities of the pad means that one swipe penetrates deep into pores, removing even the most stubborn of make-up.
Since they’re chemical-free, they’re a fantastic choice for those with sensitive or allergy-prone skin. These machine washable wipes (chuck them in at 40 degrees) come in a selection of colours to pep up your morning routine, too.
Best biodegradable cotton pads: Jinmee Hydrapuff skincare sheets
Jinmee Hydrapuff Skincare Sheets (60 pack), £6.50 from Jimnee – buy here
If you’re looking for a cotton pad that’s ideal for applying any liquid skincare products, this is your solution.
Korean brand Jinmee has created these ‘innovative sponge-like sheets’ which help products absorb more easily into your skin and essentially turn into sheet masks once you apply them – without destroying the planet.
It soaks up any liquid skincare, like toner, cleanser and more, then fully releases them deep into your skin without wasting any products.
Ideal for travelling, these are made from natural rayon pulp so they’re biodegradable. They’re also vegan and cruelty-free.
Best reusable cotton cleansing cloth: Magnitone WipeOut! microfibre cleansing cloth
Magnitone London WipeOut! MicroFibre Cleansing Cloth Grey x 2, £14.89 from Feel Unique – buy here
If you’re looking for a reusable cotton pad equivalent for effective makeup removal, this microfibre cloth will take off even long-wear, oil-based makeup – no cleanser required, you just the wet the cloth with warm water, and gently wipe in a gentle circular motion.
Each double-sided cleansing cloth can be reused 1,000 times, so you won’t just be saving the planet in the long run, but cash as well as two cost less than £15. Bargain.
Best reusable cotton pads for sensitive skin: Holland & Barrett Thick Cotton Pads
Holland & Barrett Thick Cotton Pads, £8 for 6 from Holland & Barrett – buy here
Popular with those suffering from sensitive skin issues like rosacea, this pack of six reusable cotton pads are made from organic cotton.
Customers use them with micellar water to cleanse, tone and remove make-up – plus, they’re chemical and paraben-free, making them even kinder on skin.
They also come with a machine-washable mesh bag, making them perfect for travelling and making sure they don’t get lost in with the wash.
Animal lovers will be pleased to know that they’re vegan, and cruelty-free, too.
Best reusable flannels for cleansing: John Lewis & Partners Cotton Flannels
Cotton Flannels, £5 for 5 from John Lewis – buy here
Hot cloth cleansing has been popular for years (thanks, Liz Earle), and flannels and muslins can be effective in not only cleansing skin, but gently buffing it afterwards.
These baby flannels from John Lewis do the job well, and of course, they also double as face wipes, bath wipes, burp towels and anything else you can think of for babies and young children.
They’re machine-washable and suitable for newborns, meaning they’re extra gentle on skin, even for adults.
Best printed reusable cotton pads: Cheeky Mama Luxury Triple Layer Make-up Removal Pads
Cheeky Wipes Luxury Triple Layer Make-up Removal Pads, £13.95 for 10 from Amazon – buy here
Cheeky Wipes’ Cheeky Mama bamboo and minky pads not only offer light exfoliation on one side and fluffy softness on other, they look great doing it.
Make a statement while cleansing after a spin class and choose from a range of prints, from flowers to flamingos and rainbow stripes.
They are soft and gentle enough to use when removing eye make-up and measure 11cm across – reviewers say they wash well, too.
Best reusable cloths for oil-based products: Brushworks HD Reusable Makeup Remover Cloths
Brushworks HD Reusable Makeup Remover Cloths, £12 for 3 from Beauty Bay – buy here
We love these super-soft cloths from Brushworks, available from Beauty Bay, and they’re especially fab for removing excess oils and make-up – including waterproof and smudge-proof formulas.
These are suitable for all skin types and are very economical – you can get as many as 1,500 uses, compared to a single-use pad.
These are great if you prefer something slightly larger than a regular sized cotton pad, perhaps if you use alot of products, although this brand do sell smaller, circular options, if you fancy.
Best reusable cleansing kit: So Eco Facial Cleansing Kit
So Eco Facial Cleansing Kit, £12 from Beauty Bay – buy here
This simple cleansing pack is perfect for cleansing on-the-go, and on your travels – whether to the gym, or abroad.
This handy pack contains two So Eco reusable make-up remover pads and two larger reusable make-up remover cloths in a washable bag – plus, each pad is said to replace 1,500 single-use cotton pads.
The pads are dual-sided and suitable for all skin types – plus, they’re really easy to wash. Just simply wash with soap and hang to dry (you can also pop them in the washing machine, once a week).
How do you wash reusable cotton pads?
To prevent them from fraying, wash your reusable cotton pads in a delicates bag (in fact, some reusable cotton pads come with a handy – often mesh – laundry bag).
They need to be washed frequently – usually every time you’ve used them to remove make-up that’s thick or stubborn – to get rid of any dirt and bacteria.
Also, pay attention to the detergent you’re washing them with: don’t use any thing too strong as you don’t want to irritate your skin.
It’s often recommended to wash on a 30 or 40 degree Celsius wash, but it is worth checking with the supplied instructions, first, as some can be washed by hand with some warm water.
Are reusable cotton pads hygienic?
Absolutely – reusable cotton pads are hygienic.
However, they do require regular washing – every time you take off your mascara, foundation or cleanser, you’ll need to wash the pad you used to ensure all dirt and bacteria gets cleaned away.
What can I use instead of cotton pads?
There are quite a few alternatives to cotton pads now available, like reusable bamboo and microfibre pads.
Flannels and muslins are good alternatives for face cleansing – after all, a muslin is the basis for the Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish method.
Konjac sponges – made from the root of a porous Asian vegetable – are becoming increasingly popular as facial cleansing tools that exfoliate and remove make-up.
How to make reusable cotton pads
If you’re handy with a sewing machine, or needle and thread, it can be cheap and easy to make your own reusable cotton pads – if a little time-consuming.
Source some 100 percent cotton flannel fabric (we’ve found some here for you) as well as your preferred choice of colours, or patterned, decorative cotton fabric for the backside of the pad.
Cut small squares, we recommend 3in x 3in of both fabrics, then pin together. Sew around the edge with a straight stitch, by hand or machine, but leave a one inch gap on one side.
Turn it inside out, then fold in the fabric from the gap you left – iron, and straight stitch around the edges once more. Voila! They’d make a great gift for the eco-conscious friends in your life, and are pretty simple to make a bunch of.
Can you use reusable cotton pads for nail polish?
Yes, you can use reusable cotton pads for nail polish but you will need to soak one of the pads in nail varnish remover, first.
We recommend setting aside one pad especially for removing nail polish as the pad will likely discolour, and perhaps stiffen before and after washing.
Still, it is a much better alternative then using single-use pads when it comes to removing that stubborn nail polish.
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