We interview Amanda McIntosh, creator of Take My Face Off reusable makeup wipes, and one of the leading eco-chic warriors fighting ocean pollution.
Earth Day is nearly here, and April is the best month to reflect on our beauty habits and how our personal consumption footprint reflects on the environment. And don’t get me wrong: I have always been an absolute beauty victim, but I believe it is possible to enjoy the endless creative possibilities of the world of makeup without polluting your way to a perfectly contoured look. That is why I wanted to interview the She-O of Take My Face Off. Amanda McIntosh has taken my best intentions and translated them into a fun line of reusable makeup wipes. If you agree that turtles shouldn’t be eating ocean trash, I’m sure you’ll find her point of view extremely interesting.
What inspired you to create Take My Face Off?
“At first, I was just annoyed that I couldn’t find a really soft face cloth for my skincare regimen. When I learned that single-use wipes are the fastest-growing cause of shoreline pollution, it turned my idea into a mission. I wanted other people to start thinking of cotton balls and wipes the way they think of plastic bags and straws. I decided my products wouldn’t just be the “greenest” I could manage, but also the cutest and most effective, so that people wouldn’t be sacrificing anything by switching.”
How much waste do you think a single woman can create by using cotton balls/pads to remove her makeup for a year?
“It depends on how many she uses per day, but at the rate of four per day (one for each eye, one for makeup removal, one for toner), that would be almost 1500/year. That’s 15 100-count bags! People say to me “cotton is a plant—how can that be bad?” First, cotton farming accounts for 25% of all pesticides used on the planet, even though cotton production is way less than 25% of the planet’s agriculture. Those pesticides are some of the nastiest ones out there, and they do enormous harm to farm workers and water sources. Second, even if the cotton is organic, it still takes a massive amount of water, and all types of cotton have to be processed, transported, packaged, and then disposed of. And because they’re single-use, all of that happens over and over. I joke that it doesn’t matter if it’s organic hemp grown on a fair trade coop (which is certainly a good thing), if it’s a disposable product, it is not green.”
A Woman Can Use 1500 disposable cotton balls per year (Amanda McIntosh, Take My Face Off)
What is beauty-related pollution?
“I think of it as all of the pollution and waste caused by the manufacturing and use of beauty products. We tend to think of it only in terms of the pollution caused by packaging. But all physical products have some degree of manufacturing and end up in a landfill (with very few exceptions). Take My Face Off focuses on the biggest polluter—the never-ending stream of disposable wipes and cotton products. Not only are they major polluters, they’re not even good at their jobs. Think of how cotton just smears lip color around. Wipes are mostly made of plastic, and the preservatives and cleansing agents are poor quality (unless you’re paying a LOT for your wipes). They pollute, they aren’t effective, and the repeat purchases add up to a lot of money. Mittys work much better, they’re the greenest solution we can find (because they last longest), and they’re much cheaper over time.”
Up to date, have you been able to measure the impact of your Mittys in the environment?
“That would be a fun exercise—I’d have to enlist an environmental expert to help with all the calculations. I figure the Mittys that are already “in the wild” could easily have replaced 10 million cotton balls by now. That’s a lot of water saved, pesticides that weren’t used, packaging eliminated, and pollution from manufacturing and transportation that didn’t need to occur.”
How do your Mittys work? Are they similar to a wash cloth?
“You should use them as you would a wash cloth. Some people like to put cleanser on their face and then wipe if off with a damp Mitty. Some people like to put the cleanser right on the Mitty. Either is great. They are UNLIKE a washcloth in that it’s not a slab of fabric—it has a rounded end and a pointed end to the mitt to help you clean different areas of the face, and it stays in place on your hand. The pointed tip is fantastic for removing eyeliner and mascara.”
One of your latest launches is an organic apricot kernel oil to use as a make-up remover. Is that enough to leave skin clean?
“It seems strange, but it’s true—oil is amazing at dissolving other oil and grime. And unlike other cleansers, the skin is never stripped of the natural oil layer during oil cleansing. For most people, this means calmer, happier skin. Dry skin winds up less dry, oily skin winds up less oily (because the skin doesn’t freak out and overproduce more oil). We love our Organic Apricot Kernel Oil for eye makeup removal. We would put a few drops on the pointed Mitty Detailer tip, massage the Detailer around the eye area, and then wipe off the dissolved makeup. The oil is amazing for skin, so you don’t have to wash it off after the makeup residue has been wiped away.”
Your Mittys also have an important social reach. What is The F Project? How does supporting female-owned companies help the economy?
“Women-run businesses get a fraction of the support and financing that male-run businesses do. This means we’re choking off the innovation and progress that could have been delivered by 50% of the population. The F Project founders are working on a whole host of ways to address this, and they understand the impact of putting female founders into the spotlight. It makes them more visible, which makes them seem more “normal,” which makes it easier for people to imagine investing in them. And, of course, it helps consumers know who they are so they can support them with their purchases—customers pave the long road to success!”
What are your future plans for Take My Face Off?
“We have a lot of products in development, many of which are patent-pending. Most of them replace disposable products, and all of them take some existing item and upgrade it. There are a lot of products we’re recreating to be more effective, more elegant, and more “green.” Think about it—in the market space between wipes and expensive devices like the Foreo, there is nothing. We’re filling that gap.”
Do you have any products in the works that you would like to share with us?
“The lipstick remover we did in collaboration with Vlada Haggerty, the lip artist, has already been released, but we’re so proud of it! It’s exactly the kind of thing we’re going for—it works so much better than anything on the market, it lasts for years, and it’s adorable (it looks like an oversized pair of lips). Basically, we’re working on more things like that.”