When calculating the comfort and softness of your bed sheets, it’s undeniable that thread count counts. That tally—the number of threads woven into every square inch of fabric—greatly contributes to a softer sleep, and a high-quality cotton or silk adds further plushness under the covers. But after you get out of bed, there’s another kind of white sheet that abides by similar rules: facial cotton pads. Of course, the production process is key to the ultra-soft final product. And truth be told, these textile-like little squares or circles are not all created equal.
Cotton pads—or “facial cotton”, as these soft slices are often called—are a bathroom necessity for basic beauty regimes, most commonly used to smooth over the face and neck, remove makeup, and apply toner and cleansing lotions. There are a plethora of drugstore brands, but two specialty types are leagues ahead of the others and make cleaning your face feel good, really good. It only takes one touch to feel how Shiseido and Clé de Peau Beauté facial cotton pads are in a class all their own. It’s no surprise they have attained a cult-like status on the beauty market.
Cotton is one of the most widely used all-natural textiles in existence, having long been cultivated for fabric production. But it doesn’t matter how many kittens appear in the advertisements; bathroom tissue and low-quality cotton pads can be rough on the delicate skin of the face and wastefully soak up product. (The same goes for cotton balls.) Take a closer look at drugstore-brand cotton pads and you’ll likely see packaging that gives a veiled warning: “ideal for facial and nail care,” and “100% cotton allows for maximum absorption.” Stop right there and relegate the contents of that package solely to nail polish–removing duty.
It’s no surprise Shiseido and Clé de Peau Beauté facial cotton pads have attained a cult-like status on the beauty market.
Cotton pads that are tough enough to scrub polish off of a hard surface—the nails—and also remove makeup from the most delicate skin on the body—around the eyes—are too multi-purpose to be ultra-pampering. Also, maximum absorption is not a positive characteristic in a facial cotton pad. The highest-quality facial cotton uses only a miniscule amount of liquid, and both Shiseido and Clé de Peau Beauté facial cotton are crafted to be not only thick, soft, and strong, but also quick-absorbing (as opposed to ultra-absorbing). Although toner bottles and makeup removers will stay fuller for longer, the old adage rings true: less is more.
Manufactured in Japan, both brands use a multi-layered weave—Shiseido cotton pads are 28 layers thick and Clé de Peau Beauté are 30—to create pillowy softness. And in every 120-piece package, Clé de Peau Beauté weaves their silken slices with three different types of handpicked cotton, as well as one type of silk. Both companies process the raw cotton fibres using a water curtain, a jet stream, and powerful suction, after which the fibres are combed into thin sheets and layered together to make up a sturdy and soft thickness of five millimetres. Hold one square up to the light; the long, horizontal, combed weave is clearly visible. In comparison, most drugstore brands allow virtually no light to shine through the thick, haphazard weave of their cotton pads; they’re firmly compressed, and almost firm to the touch, instead of pillowy and light.
In every 120-piece package, Clé de Peau Beauté weaves their silken slices with three different types of handpicked cotton, as well as one type of silk.
As for absorbency, there’s an interwoven science behind the intelligent design of these cotton pads, and it’s all based on the length of the cotton fibres used in production. Shiseido and Clé de Peau Beauté use long and medium-long cotton fibres in their squares, which release moisture along the entire surface of the fibre. Rougher cotton pads use short fibres with a smaller surface area for absorption. Essentially, the luxury swatches are designed so that liquids stay on the outer layers of the cotton pad for a longer period of time. It’s cottony brilliance—and, unlike the alternatives, these remain intact for longer and don’t leave fuzzy white cotton stragglers behind on the skin after cleansing. And another word of cleansing advice: avoid applying toners by hand, as a splash on the face won’t lift off dirt and residue quite like the texture of a cotton pad will.
While there is no one-size-fits-all skin-care plan, facial cottons are equally suitable for normal, sensitive, or overactive skin. Shiseido and Clé de Peau Beauté squares are even safe enough to wipe a baby’s eyes, and each package boasts a reassuring mark of excellence, the Confidence in Textiles designation stamped right onto it, which shows that they’ve been tested for harmful substances.
This all makes Shiseido and Clé de Peau Beauté facial cottons unsung heroes of morning and evening cleansing regimes. Hold back from temptation to use the next full package as a pillow: these high cotton counts belong not in the bedroom, but in the bathroom cupboard.
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