face care,  product review,  vegetarian

Product review: Neutrogena Naturals Purifying Makeup Remover Cleansing Towelettes

(Disclosure: I received a sample of this product for honest review as a member of the Influenster community.)

How did my face feel after the Neutrogena #WipeForWater experiment?

Neutrogena Naturals and The Nature Conservancy launched a large campaign this spring to encourage consumers to reduce water usage in the U.S. The numbers on water waste are pretty shocking: the EPA estimates that the average American household uses 400+ gallons of water daily and wastes over 10,000 gallons of water per year. Obviously there are lots of things you can do to reduce your wastefulness–shorter showers, ensuring your pipes don’t leak, etc.–but for the #WipeForWater challenge Neutrogena asked consumers to replace their regular cleansers with cleansing towelettes, saving an average of five gallons of water per day.

That’s a lot of water, especially added up over the course of multiple days. However, I’ve always been a little leery of replacing a cleanser with a makeup wipe–I feel like they just don’t clean as effectively–so when I received these wipes in the mail with an invitation to go waterless for three days, I was hesitant. Neutrogena claims these wipes leave skin looking “purified, fresh and healthy-looking”, but would they really work on my temperamental skin?


Well, doubts aside, it was a challenge for Earth Month, and I do try hard to be as “green” as possible, so I wanted to give it an honest effort. The Neutrogena Naturals Purifying Makeup Remover Cleansing Towelettes come in packages of 25 and retail for about $7 at drugstores. According to Neutrogena they’re low in chemicals and made with bionutrients designed to promote better skin. I couldn’t find these wipes in the EWG database but other products from the line are ranked “moderate hazards”, meaning they’re lower in chemicals than many other mainstream products but not entirely clean due to ingredients like fragrance and phenoxyethanol. (You can see the full ingredients list at the bottom of this post.) Neutrogena also stamps their Naturals line as “not tested on animals”, and it’s one of the few drugstore lines I’ve seen with vegan-friendly options.*

My goal in testing these wipes was to use them morning and night in place of my regular cleanser for three days. I do like the texture of these wipes; I feel like you get mild exfoliation with cleansing. I think someone with sensitive skin would want to be careful about scrubbing too hard, though, because I noticed they did feel a little rough while taking off eye makeup. The fragrance is definitely noticeable but I would describe it as a clean scent, though a bit strong for my taste.

While the wipes did leave my skin feeling quite nice and clean, and there was no dryness afterward, after three days I had a bad breakout in my T-Zone. I tried this experiment again later in the month with the same results. Unfortunately, while these wipes are great for a single day replacement, they just don’t clean as deeply or effectively as a standard cleanser, so after a few days my pores were in need of a serious cleansing.

I think these wipes would be great to throw in a gym or beach bag, or for an overnight camping trip, because you could feel nice and pampered and clean without any water for washing up. But as a serious replacement for an everyday cleanser? Sorry, Neutrogena, but I don’t think these wipes make the cut.


*Neutrogena says that their Naturals line is not tested on animals, and many of the products are free of animal ingredients, but keep in mind that parent company Johnson and Johnson has not committed to banning animal testing on its cosmetic products entirely. So depending on how you feel about the whole “parent company” chain, you may or may not be comfortable purchasing these wipes. I would definitely opt for a brand like Giovanni if given the choice, but for someone who needed something from the drugstore in a pinch–say, if your luggage was lost during a business trip–and your options were these wipes or something containing an animal ingredient, these would be a decent option. To my knowledge even Burt’s Bees, commonly touted as a great vegetarian drugstore label, doesn’t offer a vegan cleansing option. (And BB is also owned by Clorox, which tests.) So–I think it’s wonderful that Neutrogena is taking a step in the right direction, but if I was using my own money to purchase a product, I would try to find one from a company without a testing parent first. Just my opinion!

Product ingredients: Water, Mineral Dicaprylyl Carbonate (from Coconut/Palm Kernel), Heptyl Undecylenate (from Castor Oil), Propanediol (from Corn), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (Vegetable-sourced), Phenoxyethanol, Sucrose Cocoate (from Coconut/Corn), Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Fragrance, Chlorphenesin, Benzoic Acid, Sodium Hydroxide, Dehydroacetic Acid, Glycerin (Vegetable-sourced), Ethylhexylglycerin, Polyaminopropyl Biguanide, Hydrolyzed Caesalpinia Spinosa Gum (from Peruvian Tara Seed), Caesalpinia Spinosa Gum (from Peruvian Tara Seed), Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate.


  • Katrin

    I agree with you, I don’t want to support a (parent) company which tests on animals. There are many completely cruelty free companies out there and
    I rather give them my money. Of course it is good when they are taking a step in the right direction, I hope they are really doing what they say. Wipes like that are fine for traveling but I would not use them every day.

    • writergirlm

      Yeah, I prefer to avoid parent companies as much as possible since “money flows up”–but I know everyone feels differently, so I like to make sure people have all the info so they can make their own decisions. I do hope that this is a sign larger companies are trying harder to reach the vegetarian/vegan market and will be open to reformulating their larger lines too in the future!

  • Angela Cruz Ledford

    I just stumbled across your site, and let me begin by saying how much I love your motto. I, too, would rather be reading, LOL! :) I appreciate your review on these towelettes because I was curious about that. The waterless challenge is a brilliant concept, although I did not except it because I have acne-prone skin. But since I work at a zoo that is all about conservation, I definitely support the initiative! I also am a wrap for the Healthy Home Company which offers certified ToxicFree and Leaping Bunny Certified stuff (cosmetics, nutrition, household, skincare etc). I am pretty sure you would love our company so I want to send you some samples :-)

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