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Here's why Ireland should follow the UK and ban makeup wipes

They could be banned under the department’s new environment plan.

IT’S 4AM. YOU’VE had a ball, from what you can remember. But it is now very much time to retire the sequins and rest your weary head for the night.

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Before all that though, you know you have to take off your makeup – you’ve a glitter cut crease and enough cream contouring to beat the band. You just can’t quite bring yourself to double cleanse though, reaching instead for the used and abused packet of wet wipes residing on your bathroom window sill.

Look, it’s at a stage now where everyone knows wet wipes (or ‘baby wipes’, whichever you prefer), are bad for a lot of different reasons. Here’s a brief explainer:

They DO NOT fully take off your makeup.

You might think you look fresh faced as you stared at yourself googly-eyed in the mirror, but you ain’t. Dermatologists Dr. Maryann Mikhail and Dr. Craig Kraffert explained to The Huffington Post that when you use makeup remover wipes, residue is left behind on your skin. The active ingredients in makeup remover wipes are generally the same as regular cleansers: Both rely on surfactants, which dissolve makeup, as well as solublizers and emulsifiers that help lift makeup, oil and dead skin. Without the added step of rinsing with water, wipes aren’t as thorough and leave behind a portion of the grime on your skin.

They can also cause irritation.

Again, as you’re not rinsing away the active ingredients, the residue that’s left behind may expose your skin to high concentrations of solublizers, surfactants and emulsifiers. The nature of makeup remover wipe packaging requires added preservatives to increase shelf life, so you could also be exposing your skin to extra formaldehyde-releasing chemicals, which are commonly used as preservatives. On top of that, some wipe brands contain alcohol, which can dry out your skin or cause stinging.

So that’s just your face – now imagine what the mountains of them people dispose on a weekly basis are doing for the environment.

The main component of many face wipes brands is polyester.

More than 70 million barrels of oil are used to make polyester each year. It is not bio-degradable and will persist in the eco-system even as it eventually breaks apart. In fact, it is believed that synthetic garments are the biggest source of microplastic pollution in the oceans because up to 1900 fibres can be washed off one garment every time it is washed.

Even disposed of correctly, wipes will fill up landfills for centuries to come, but the misconception that household, baby and face wipes are flushable is causing them to block up sewers before eventually washing up on beaches.

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In 2015, a 40-metre long mass of wipes and fat — a so-called ‘fatberg’ — destroyed a Victorian sewer in Chelsea, costing Thames Water £400,000. The same year a report by the British Marine Conservation Society found wipes were the fastest growing pollutants on British beaches.

All this to take your Benefit mascara off, Karen?! Get a grip.

So, what’s happening in the UK, then?

Wet wipes are responsible for causing 93% of blockages in UK sewers, according to Water UK.

A spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) announced this week that the products could be banned under plans to eliminate plastic waste.

“As part of our 25-year environment plan, we have pledged to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste, and that includes single-use products like wet wipes,” the spokesperson told the Evening Standard.

Ok, what’s the story here then?

Well, more positively, Ireland is set to follow the lead of the UK by signing into law the banning of microbeads in products by the end of 2018. Microbeads are found in many household products, particularly hygiene products such as shower gels, scrubs and soap, resulting in them being washed into rivers and seas and eaten by marine life.

DailyEdge reached out to Minister for the Environment Denis Naughten’s department for a statement on whether the government was going to introduce similar legislation concerning wet wipes here.

Work with me here – I cannot be arsed double cleansing. Are there any snazzy environmentally sound alternatives?

Yes To Primrose Oil 2-in-1 Facial Wipes are biodegradable, with 98 per cent of the ingredients being natural. The product also has cruelty-free and FSC certifications, (basically, they’re made from sustainably sourced wood). You can get them for €5.50 here.

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The Body Shop Vitamin E Gentle Facial Cleansing Wipes are also biodegradable, so there’s that. They’ll cost you €10.95 for 25 wipes. Finally, a happy alternative to swiping that doesn’t involve Tinder.

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