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Reusable Makeup Pads – Reduce Your Footprint

My days of extravagant eyeshadow, bold blusher and blue mascara are firmly in the rear-view mirror. There is still the odd occasion though, when I like to splash on a bit of war paint. Until now, I have removed my makeup with makeup remover and the standard cotton pads available in any supermarket. Last weekend I noticed I was down to my last 3 makeup pads. Time to swap out the disposables for reusable makeup pads.

It’s a no brainer that disposable cotton pads are a frivolous use of resources. There’s the growing of the cotton itself (a water hungry crop), manufacturing and then disposal. It’s true, you can compost the disposable pads (and I do) but it is far more responsible to make my own reusable makeup pads.  They are simple to make and can be washed and reused time and again.

Choosing a Fabric

My preference is flannelette which is also called brushed cotton. It has a texture that is similar to the disposable pads, so it isn’t harsh on your eyes. I find that whilst towelling is absorbent, it’s too rough on my face. Towelling may suit you and if that is the case, no doubt you have an old towel or washer that you can re-purpose.

There are lots of online options where you can purchase these pads but honestly, making them will take you less than 30 minutes. This saves on cost and hopefully uses something that you already have at home. I would have loved a piece of flannelette with a cute pattern like the reusable makeup pads on Esty but in the spirit of zero waste, I used the flannelette I already had.

Reusuable Makeup Pads

fabric rounds pinned and stitched together to make reusable makeup pads

I stitched these on a sewing machine but if all you have is a needle and thread, a simple running stitch would work nearly as well.


  • 50 cm of 100% cotton flannelette fabric (brushed cotton)
  • Fabric marker or black pen
  • Cotton for sewing
  • Sharp sewing scissors or pinking shears (optional)
round fabric pinned and mebing machine stitched to make reusable makeup pad


  1. Using an egg ring or the lid of a pressure can as a template, trace circles onto the reverse side of the fabric. Each pad is made up of a pair of circles, so make sure you trace an even number.
  2. Cut out the circles and pair the pieces so the fabric pattern is on the outside and the pen marking is on the inside.
  3. Stitch the two pieces of flannelette together by sewing around the edge of the pad. Leave an approximate ½ cm edge all the way around.
  4. Sew through from one edge of the pad to the other, across the middle of the pad. This provides stability when you are using it to wipe makeup off your face.
  5. I tried the zig zag stitch on my machine, but preferred the look of the straight stitch. Either will work. If you have an overlocker, you could overlock the edges but that’s probably overkill for one little pad.
  6. Once you have used a makeup pad, place it in a lingerie bag, ready to be washed
set of five reusable make pads with zero waste hashtag

You should aim to make at least a dozen reusable makeup pads, so you have some in reserve when others are in the wash. Over time, with washing, the edges may fray a little, but the makeup pads will give you many re-uses. When they have finished their serviceable life, put the reusable makeup pads in the compost bin.

*Image courtesy State Library of New South Wales (29681 / FL1335096)

8 comments… add one
  • sherry January 12, 2019, 1:47 pm

    ooh you are clever and very earth-responsible. is that a saying?:) love your idea here.

    • Fiona Ryan January 13, 2019, 11:16 am

      As I said, I rarely wear makeup but I think I’ll make some for my nieces as gifts.

  • Serina aka Ms Frugal Ears January 13, 2019, 11:35 am

    Love this idea. I have some old and ripped flannie PJs and this could be a cute way to use them up.

    • Fiona Ryan January 13, 2019, 11:59 am

      Perfect! I really had to resist buying a pair of kids PJs at the op shop. It defeats the purpose of frugality and zero waste if you are buying things. So, my makeup pads are very plain ; )

  • Tandy | Lavender and Lime January 14, 2019, 6:05 pm

    Sorry to say, but I still wear blue mascara haha. I am all for reducing waste. But water is such a scarce resource here so I am going to stick with my disposable cotton pads.

    • Fiona Ryan January 15, 2019, 9:02 pm

      Totally understand Tandy. If you do want to do this at some time in the future, just put them in a delicates bag and pop them in the wash with your other clothes or towels.

  • Lisa January 21, 2019, 1:29 pm

    I love this post. You inspired me so much I made a set out of my leftover pyjama pant scraps. I have to say though, that it has reminded me how much I loathe sewing curves if I don’t have to. If I make another batch it will be square!

    • Fiona Ryan January 28, 2019, 12:20 pm

      I have rectangles too!. Glad to be an inspiration. I’ve put a set through the wash and they’ve come out fine.

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