In my tiny, church-less, pub-less village, we have always relied on septic tanks to drain sewage. Small-scale, requiring a massive drainfield and prone to blocking, you won’t be familiar with these if you’re from a city because they’re only used in rural areas. Because of the septic tanks, I was brought up not to put things such as wet wipes down the loo for fear they would emerge, inky with mascara, on my mum’s lawn and the neighbours would see. Sadly, city-dwellers like yourselves have overlooked the intricacies of draining systems and, as a result, have been bunging twice as many wet wipes down the loo, creating superknots of fibrous wipes in New York, Sydney and London as well as choking our beaches.
Originally used for babies and in lieu of showers at festivals, people use wet wipes to take off their makeup. There are no statistics to prove this, so you need to trust me. While the industry continues with plans to develop a wet wipe that will disintegrate in 15 seconds, there are – wait – new and better ways to remove your makeup. Baby wipes, or even flush-friendly face wipes, get a bad rap, primarily because they contain alcohol that dries your skin and push the dirt around your face.
The Observer’s Eva Wiseman tries all sorts, but often relies on water, soap or “Vaseline, mate”. Guardian beauty columnist, Sali Hughes, who knows everything about everything, prefers a proper cleanser: “It’s easily the most important part of your skincare routine,” she explains whenever I ask for advice. “The method is much more important than the product. “Whatever you use, you will get far better results if you massage the cleanser into dry skin and buff it off with an old-fashioned Terry cotton flannel, drenched in hot water and wrung out. There is no need to use an eye-makeup remover when following this method. I always use a light, milky cleanser in the morning as I’m not wearing makeup. I use a heavier-duty balm or oil in the evening, to get everything off.” Could she be more specific? “If I could have only two cleansers in the world, I’d choose Ren Evercalm Gentle Cleansing Milk for the morning, and for the evening Aromatherapy Associates soothing cleanser.
Me? I’m not vain but I am a stickler for cleanliness that is borderline OCD, as in can’t-sleep-unless-I’m-showered OCD. If I’m feeling especially paranoid (and rich), I’ll go for something serious such as the Liz Earle hot cloth cleanser, which extricates dirt from your skin with terrifying efficiency. If I’m a little skinter, it’s Supremely Gentle Eye Make Up Remover by Kiehl’s, with something like Centella Skin Calming Cleanser. Otherwise it’s coconut oil, a massive piece of cotton wool, and then sometimes one of those posh Clarisonic brushes with dove soap that presumably works by scaring the dirt from your skin. Witchcraft, honestly. So no wet wipes or beauty wipes for me because, nope, I’m no longer a newborn.