Face Wipes: Skincare’s dirty secret that just won’t go away.

Over the years, we’ve heard from various surveys both industry-wide and client-focused that consumers want two things from skincare products: 

  1. To be kinder to skin. The insight? ‘We’ve all got sensitive skin.” 
  2. To be kinder to the planet. The insight? ‘I’m looking to use more sustainable products’. 

One product has always been the nemesis of these ‘claimed beliefs’. Face wipes.

Beauty Matter reported last week that Amazon released their top products of Q1 2024 in beauty and personal care … and the still in the top 5 is face wipes – specifically Neutrogena’s Makeup Remover Face Wipes. 

Love them or hate them, this product is typically the best-selling line, or in the top 3, for any skincare brand. However, they don’t match the priorities that shoppers ‘claim’ are important to them. 

Hence why they will always be part of the range – because it wouldn’t be commercially viable to remove them. Many brands have biodegradable wipes, but speak to any skincare expert and they’ll tell you when used regularly, they are one of the worst things you can use on your face. 

In all my years in research this is one of the best examples of where we have truly closed the ‘say-do gap’ for our clients. 

Claimed behaviour > ‘I don’t want to use face wipes any more’

Actual behaviour > ‘I still buy and use face wipes regularly as they fit my routine, my needs, they are convenient.’

Convenience will always win here. 

Yes, many brands have made their wipes biodegradable (e.g. No7) and for many consumers this would be enough to tick the eco – kinder to planet box. 

The other crucial piece of the puzzle is that they are still on sale from most skincare brands.

The only way to truly nudge behaviour into a more ‘kind to skin’ ethos is for brands to take the lead. Consumers won’t do this alone. 

Face wipes will only ever stop being purchased and used, when they stop being sold. In reality, the consumer need is so strong, volumes sold so high, that this would be an impossible decision for many brands. 

I’ve stood up in a debrief with a powerhouse of a skincare brand and advised that to truly live up to their brand values and ethos, they should be removed from the range. 

A bold move. A commercially damaging move (in pure financial terms) but the right brand, with the right ethos and the right attitude, will take it on. 


Slowly, behaviour will change.