I don't know about you, but I watched with complete horror the images of the fatberg found in the London sewage system a couple of years ago. Not a very pretty topic for a beauty page, I know, but the unattractive truth is that the congealed mass, weighing 130 tonnes and reaching a mind-boggling 250 metres in length, contained a huge amount of wet wipes - a beauty staple that is leaving a damaging and polluting legacy.
There's no denying face and body wipes are a super handy and convenient skincare helper, but most of them are made from plastic-based materials (such as polyester), meaning they sit in a landfill for centuries, block our sewage systems, and pollute our seas. They are not biodegradable, meaning that the first wet wipes, which were invented in 1958, are still out there somewhere.
Thankfully, we are waking up to the damage the plastic in our beauty routines is doing to our environment, with nearly 50pc of women in a recent study saying that they're increasingly conscious of how 'natural' their lifestyle is and the products they use. As a result, many brands have stepped up to the plate and are now offering some brilliant, fully biodegradable, compostable, non-plastic wipes.
Bamboo and sustainably-produced viscose are wonderful eco alternatives to plastic wipes that can be tossed into the brown bin after use. They are the same price and some are even cheaper than their plastic alternatives. Kind to skin and our planet...
The Japanese konjac sponge is a 100pc natural facial-cleansing sponge made from vegetable fibres. The Konjac sponge has been used in Japan for aeons, as a bath sponge for newborn babies and, more recently, it has been making waves in the beauty world as a brilliant make-up remover. Simply dampen and use with your usual make-up remover. It will keep for three months, and you just chuck it in your brown bin when finished.
DETAILS: Garnier Organics Konjac Sponge, €8.99 from pharmacies nationwide
If you're a fan of cotton wool when it comes to cleansing your skin, but you fancy greening up your beauty routine by using organic cotton, then try these gems from Penneys. Eco-friendly, organic skincare lines can be a bit pricey, but this new Penneys Naturals skincare line uses amazing natural ingredients at brilliant, wallet- saving prices.
DETAILS: P.S. Naturals Organic Cotton Cosmetic Pads, €1, from Penneys stores nationwide
Muslin cloths are super-fine cotton cloths (traditionally used on newborns due to the softness of the cloth on baby's skin) that are also a brilliant facial cleanser for grown-up faces, especially those with sensitive, irritated or broken skin. Simply dampen and use with just water or your usual cleanser to gently purify skin. Will last years if minded properly - always rinse off after use and let dry fully.
DETAILS: Pai Sensitive Skin Cloths, set of three, €15 from health stores nationwide and paiskincare.ie
Best for sensitive skin
Fully biodegradable, Simple Face Wipes are unscented and contain no artificial perfumes or harsh chemicals that can upset irritated faces. Simple Biodegradable Wipes, €4.30, pharmacies and grocery stores nationwide
Best for make-up removal
These extra-soft wipes are super gentle but effective make-up removers and are made from natural viscose - a renewable material from a certified sustainable source. Nivea Biodegradable Refreshing Cleansing Wipes, €4.99, available at pharmacies and grocery stores nationwide
My new favourite go-to, these beauts are whipped up from biodegradable bamboo, water, aloe juice and fruit extract, and a teeny trace of food preservative (for anti-bacterial qualities). The Cheeky Panda Biodegradable Bamboo Wipes,€3.80 for 64 wipes, grocery and health stores, Holland and Barrett, Boots and select pharmacies nationwide
Best multi-tasker wipe
These beauts are packed with green superfoods and soothing cucumber to naturally exfoliate, detoxify, and rejuvenate face and body, all-in-one. Fully biodegradable, they gently remove dirt, sweat and make-up (even mascara). Yes To Cucumbers 30 Soothing Hypoallergenic Facial Wipes, €5.50, from pharmacies, Dunnes and Penneys stores nationwide
Best for babies
For all the mums out there looking to switch to an environmentally-friendly baby wipe, these Aqua Wipes are a great option. These are natural, paediatrician-tested, 100pc biodegradable, 100pc compostable, 100pc plastic-free, with zero alcohol, chlorine, phthalate, lanolin, parabens, perfume and sulfates! They're also very soft but strong wipes (so no tearing mid-clean). Aqua Wipes, €3.50, Boots nationwide
Best for oily/blemish skin
These one-step wipes for blemished skin remove make-up, pore-clogging impurities and excess oil. The wipes reduce oil and shine without sucking every last bit of moisture and hydration from the skin. Just chuck these biodegradable wipes into your handbag to cleanse and refresh oily skin on the go all day. The Body Shop Tea Tree Wipes, €8.50, from The Body Shop stores nationwide and thebodyshop.ie