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So what’s the deal with cotton pads?!

Life is all about the small things. Cotton pads, for example. Learn below what a difference the right cotton pads can do for your skin care routine.

cotton pads

Your every day beauty tools: Different kinds of cotton pads.

Who loves toners?

I love toners!

To re-balance my skin’s pH-level, for example, or just to give it an extra moisture boost!

My favorite toner of the moment is the MAC Lightful C Marine-Bright Formula Softening Lotion. It contains Hyaluronic acid, Vitamin C and E, yeast extract, hydrolyzed rice bran extract, algae extract, and plenty of other good stuff. It also just so happens to be a tiny bit expensive. So it’s only natural that I would want to preserve as much of the precious liquid as I can. But how?

Re-thinking cotton pads

In Germany, its difficult to find cotton pads thinner than 2 to 3 mm. As a consumer, I never questioned why that is. On the contrary, I was conditioned to think cotton pads even need to be that way. And so were you probably! I deduce this from reading blog posts such as this one about luxury cotton pads, for example, which implies the thicker, the better.

But in Seoul, I got the Etude House My Beauty Tool Round Clear Cotton pads simply because I had run out of mine. First thing that struck me was that they were three times thinner than my regular ones. Yet they were just as soft, absorbent, sturdy, and held up even when removing make up or nail polish. But most importantly, they were so much better suited for what I use them for the most: applying toner and essence.

cotton pads

German vs. extra thin Korean cotton pad.

Dispense a liquid onto regular cotton pads, and you basically lose half of it. It’s a waste! Whereas extra thin cotton pads barely have a core in which liquids can get lost in. So you need considerably less product and it actually goes where it’s supposed to go: directly onto your skin.

Unfortunately, Etude House is not so easily available in Germany. A crying shame, because I love the Etude House My Beauty Tool beauty tools and accessories. I mean, heart-embossed cotton pads and strawberry hair rollers? They’re not only adorable to look at. The brushes, pump bottles, etc. are good quality as well.

But fortunately, Etude House from Korea isn’t the only Asian brand that’s optimized all beauty tools for better usage and application. In fact, the Japanese probably did it first.

An acceptable interim-solution

Japan’s general devotion to beauty can be seen in the smallest things. Q-tips, for example. Available in different shapes and colors, Japanese Q-tips are designed not only to clean your ears, but also clean up make up mistakes, apply eye shadow or concealer, or smudge eye liner and shadow. Or take Japanese hair dryers! One bestselling model by Panasonic is known for not only drying the hair, but treating and moisturizing it with double ions at the same time — see here.

So, the solution to my woes for now is Muji, international supplier of all things “typical Japanese.”

Muji carries various types of cotton pads. But look out for their so-called Peelable Cotton. They are rectangular, have sealed ends, and can be peeled apart so you get further two to four extra to super thin cotton pad layers – hence the name!

The Muji Peelable Cotton pads are made from four layers each all in all and have a large surface area so you could even cut them into two. Only, they are not that sturdy, tend to dissolve under too much pressure shedding fibers over moist skin. But for toner and essence application they easily do the trick.

Also, they’re good for use as quick make-shift sheet masks: soaked with your favorite toner, essence or serum, just apply the separate layers onto your face and leave on until done.

Any Western equivalents?

Still, Muji’s Peelable Cotton is just a temporary solution until I can get my hands on something better. Ideally, I would stick to Etude House. But I’ve also seen a German drugstore version of Demak’up cotton pads that in the packaging at least looked somewhat thinner. I will report back if they or any others are any good.

What’s your favorite kind of cotton pads, and why? Let me know in the comments!


  1. I like your review style, V. Very authentic :). Would love to feature your reviews in our weekly curated email digest that goes out to thousands of people.


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