Cruelty-free to me is not only about animal testing, but it’s also about how we affect the world. Our daily habits are causing major disruptions to the natural habitats of so many different species. We are taking more and more land, we are causing more pollution each day and we are continuing to use products that are harmful to the environment and other species. With this in mind I’ve decided each week I will write about the changes we can make to ensure beauty is sustainable. 

So, what’s the big deal with using single-use cotton pads?

Although cotton is a natural product it does not mean that is a very sustainable product, here are the main reasons why you should stop using single-use cotton pads:

Cotton requires a lot of water

To produce 1 pound of cotton it takes 101 gallons of water, a prime example of the negative effects of growing cotton is the Aral sea. According to the National Geographic, the Aral Sea (once the world’s 4th largest lake) in Central Asia has been losing water for half a century due to soviet engineers diverting the water to grow cotton in the desert. The downsize of rivers and lakes due to cotton farming severely affects villages that require this water for survival as well as animals and plantation. 

Pesticides & Insecticides 

According to Pesticide Action Network UK globally cotton uses 6% of the world’s pesticides and 16% of the world’s insecticide, more than any other single major crop. Pesticides are known to contaminate soil and water while harming a variety of animals including bees, colonies of bees are disappearing at an alarming rate. Pesticides and insecticides are not only harming animals, but humans are also harmed, according to the WHO (World Health Organisation) 3 million people each year suffer from pesticide poisoning and there are around more than 200,000 deaths caused by the poisoning. A higher percentage of deaths occur in developing countries. Some of the short term side effects of low pesticide exposure include redness, blisters, swelling, vomiting, diarrhoea, dizziness, chest pains, and difficulty breathing, while long-term exposure may cause anything from memory loss to hormonal imbalance and cancer. 

Cotton pads are not 100% biodegradable

Not all cotton pads are biodegradable, plastic fibres are used to keep the shape or make them smooth, this means each pad will not fully biodegrade. Cotton pads are also not compostable when we use these pads to remove makeup or nail polish the chemicals contaminate the natural fibres. 

What about organic cotton?

Although organic cotton farming does not use harmful pesticides, however twice as much water is used. 

What Are The Alternatives?

Let’s face it single-use anything is never going to be good for the environment, the only way to change this is by changing the products we buy, there will always be a supply for where there is a demand. 

My alternative to single-use cotton pads is to use reusable organic cotton pads. Although cotton is used I know I won’t be buying a new pack of cotton pads every few weeks. You can also opt for a muslin cloth or use a face towel.

I’ve come across several posts of people not liking reusable pads, either because of having to use too much product or struggling with the washing. Here are my tips and tricks to make them work for you:

  1. Use a damp pad rather than a dry pad before adding your makeup remover, you can also remove makeup with just water itself. Make sure to use your face wash after removing makeup. 
  2. I soak the dirty pads in hot water before putting them in the wash because I use an oil-based makeup remover. I then put the pads individually in a 60degree wash with my bed sheets. If you have white pads they probably will stain, that’s pretty normal and does not mean that they are not clean!
  3. If you are worried about stains use darker pads
  4. Leave them to dry separately on a cloth or towel in a warm area (I leave them near the window to dry). 
Reusable cotton pads

Here are two of the brands I recommend:

I hope you liked my post, if you have any feedback or suggestions please comment below! 🙂