For many years I was a loyal user of Shiseido Face Cotton. Even though it's more expensive than the cotton pads you find at drug stores, I found it significantly softer in texture, relatively thick and dense and didn't disintegrate with makeup remover. I like to use it on the face to remove makeup or for skin toners. For nail polishes I mainly use drug store rounds from Rite Aid although quality isn't consistent among all the options, many leave tiny bits of fibers on the face, so I save them for polish removal. Out of curiosity and raves from friends, I started exploring more options over the past few years. Today I have a roundup of the five cotton pads I like to rotate between. I've stocked up on several since I go through these quickly.
Chanel Le Coton ($20 for 100 pads) are the largest cotton pads I've bought. I purchased a box of the Chanel at a makeover event to qualify for the gift with purchase they were offering and fell head over heels in love. The Chanel is larger and thicker in size compared to the Shiseido. I find it sturdier but still very gentle on the skin. The square is large enough that I can use one half for my dual-phase eye makeup removers and the other half for cleansing water for the rest of my face. Just when I found my holy grail of luxury cottons, Chanel discontinued it for a while which broke my heart. Thank goodness they brought it back. The thickness allows for just the right amount of toner or makeup remover to be absorbed and apply to the skin. This is by far my favorite. These come in a white box which helps keep the shape in tact and protects the cotton from getting smashed.
A few friends told me to try the face cotton from Clé de Peau Beauté ($20 for 120 pads) stating it was the best thing they've ever used. A couple readers had e-mailed me too saying they thought I should try it so I did. It's really quite amazing. It's the thickest of all the cotton pads I've tried but still has a relatively tight weave making it sturdy. In terms of size it's larger than Shiseido but smaller than Chanel. I like that these come in a box so they keep the shape.
Shiseido Facial Cotton ($9.50 for 165 pads) is a classic staple. It's soft but firm and won't fall apart easily. One pad is sufficient for the entire face. It is thinner than Chanel or Cle de Peau Beaute though. These come in a soft plastic casing without any support so make sure you store them away from things that can smash the package or else they will become smushed.
Rite Aid and CVS have cotton pads that I buy frequently. Below are the Premium Cotton Rounds from Rite Aid. I prefer the ones with a vertical line weave at the top versus the honeycomb because I find those softer in texture and they also don't leave any fibers on the face but I can't always find those specific ones. These run around $3-$4 depending on the store and what sales they have going on.
Sephora Collection Soft Touch Cotton Pads ($4 for 70 rounds) are softer than most drug store brands. Since they are smaller and thinner I usually need 2-3 rounds to remove my makeup entirely. For the price if you can get away with one pad these are really good although they are significantly thinner and not as plush as the Chanel, Shiseido or Cle de Peau. I had hoped these would be the same as the other luxury cotton rectangles at a cheaper price. They just aren't the same.
In summary, my top two picks are Chanel and Cle de Peau Beaute - it's impossible for me to pick between the two. Shiseido is the next best option but still not as thick or plush and the smaller size means I have to use 2 pads on occasion. A quick reference on pricing and availability of each. You can find the cotton at a number of retailers, I'll list places I've bought mine before:
- Clé de Peau Beauté Cotton Pads are $20 for a box of 120 pads = $0.17/pad
- Shiseido Facial Cotton is $9.50 for 165 pads = $0.06/pad
- Chanel Le Coton is $20 for 100 pads = $0.20/pad
- Sephora Collection Soft Touch Cotton Pads are $4 for 70 rounds = $0.06/pad
- available exclusively at Sephora
- Rite Aid Premium Cotton Rounds are around $3.79 for 80 rounds = $0.04/pad
- available at Rite Aid
Do you have a favorite facial cotton? What have you tried, liked or didn't like?