4 Eco-Friendly Reusable Cotton Rounds For Beauty Routines
Whether for removing makeup, cleansing or applying a moisturizer or toner, many people use cotton pads as part of their skincare routine. However, if you're using them frequently, they can add up to a lot of waste, which is where reusable cotton rounds come in.
These sustainable alternatives to cotton balls, pads, or makeup wipes can be washed and reused over a thousand times, which prevents as many single-use products from ending up in landfills and waterways. Below, see our recommendations for the best reusable cotton rounds and a few more reasons why switching to reusables is worth the investment.
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
The super soft Green Estate Reusable Makeup Remover Pads are designed with a dark side for removing makeup and a light side for applying toner or moisturizer. This way, you won't see stains as easily, making them look newer for longer. Additionally, you don't need to use a facial cleansing product with these. Just wet with warm water, and makeup wipes away, which is great for sensitive skin.
These microfiber reusable cotton rounds come in packs of 14, and with each purchase Green Estate plants a tree through partner Eden Reforestation Projects. To date, the company has planted more than 55,000 trees, which has provided over 550 days of reliable work for people living in extreme poverty.
Customer rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars with almost 4,000 Amazon reviews
Why buy: Machine washable; Includes zippered pouch for washing; Tree planted for every purchase; Plastic-free shipping when purchased from manufacturer
If you're looking for a basic option, try Paula's Choice Reusable Makeup Remover Pads, which are made from a 70% bamboo/30% cotton material. Paula's Choice is a Leaping Bunny-certified, 100% cruelty-free skincare brand that works with Terracycle® to recycle its bottles, tubes and other containers after you run out of product.
Many brands include a drawstring cotton laundry bag for washing and drying, but based on our experience, even when the strings are knotted, these can still open and allow the rounds to escape. We like that the Paula's Choice 10-count reusable cotton rounds come with a zippered pouch, which is less likely to open up in the laundry.
Customer rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars with over 10 Amazon reviewsWhy buy: Machine washable; Leaping Bunny-certified brand; Includes zippered pouch for washing
LastRound Reusable Cotton Pads divert waste from entering landfills and waterways in more ways than one. Aside from having an average lifespan of 1,750 uses, the production of the pads and convenient case utilizes cotton and plastic that would otherwise be trashed.
The textured pads are made from a blend of 70% Scandinavian wood fibers (locally sourced by the Denmark-based company) and 30% cotton fibers that are too short to be used in standard textiles. There are two versions of the case that holds seven pads — one is made from plant-based materials and the other is made from recycled ocean-bound plastic in collaboration with ReSea Project.
Customer rating: 5 out of 5 stars with almost 10 Amazon reviews
Why buy: Machine washable; Case made from plant-based material or recycled ocean-bound plastic; Plastic-free packaging
Marley's Monsters made a name for itself with its UNpaper® towels, which take the place of traditional paper towels, and it's since branched out into other home and beauty products. The company's 20-packs of Reusable Facial Rounds are handmade in Eugene, Oregon, with two layers of 100% cotton flannel for durability and long-term use.
One thing we like about Marley's Monsters is its commitment to local sustainability. It's BRING rethink-certified, a designation given by a nonprofit recycling company in Eugene to companies that practice conservation in the realms of materials and waste, energy, water and supply chain management. Marley's Monsters also won the 2021 Bold Steps Award, which recognizes eco-friendly Eugene-based businesses.
Customer rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars with almost 10 Amazon reviewsWhy buy: Handmade; Machine washable; BRING rethink-certified; Includes mesh drawstring pouch for washing; Recyclable and compostable shipping when purchased from manufacturer
Why Make the Switch to Reusable Cotton Rounds?
There are a few reasons we recommend switching to reusable cotton rounds versus single-use cotton pads, cotton balls or makeup wipes.
First, non-organic cotton is considered the "world's dirtiest crop" due to its heavy use of pesticides. According to the Environmental Justice Foundation, cotton production accounts for 2.5% of the world's cultivated land but 16% of global insecticide releases — $2 billion worth of chemical pesticides are sprayed on the crops each year. Although cotton undergoes a washing process before it's manufactured into goods, that cheap sleeve of cotton pads you get from the grocery store is still likely to contain harmful chemicals.
Second, reusables are much better for the environment. If you use two cotton rounds per day, it adds up to 730 per year. If they're 100% cotton and are only used with natural products, they can be composted. However, if you use them to remove conventional makeup, which can include toxins and plastics, they'll need to go in the trash. Plus, they typically come in flimsy plastic that isn't accepted by most municipal recycling centers.
Additionally, according to the World Wildlife Federation, many experts say cotton uses the most water of any agricultural commodity. One figure even estimates that it takes 20,000 liters of water to create just 1 kilogram of cotton.
Create an Eco-Friendly Beauty Routine With Reusable Cotton Rounds
By switching to reusable cotton pads, you're reducing the amount of cotton you use over time, which equates to less waste and less water used to keep up with your skincare.
Melissa Smith is an avid writer, scuba diver, backpacker, and all-around outdoor enthusiast. She graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in journalism and sustainable studies. Before joining EcoWatch, Melissa worked as the managing editor of Scuba Diving magazine and the communications manager of The Ocean Agency, a non-profit that's featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary Chasing Coral.