22 Nov 2016

Comparison Review of Cosmetic Tool: 21 Different Facial Cottons / Pads / Puffs / Swabs I used

A lot of people have been sending me emails asking about facial cotton or cotton pad, so I thought it would be helpful to write a separate review sharing my thoughts on facial cotton and how to use it.

Facial cotton is a basic but important cosmetic tool. There are debates on whether or not you need cotton pads for your toner and essence. Some people argue that cotton pads will cause unnecessary wastage since you'll need a lot of toner or essence to wet a cotton pad. However, there are also people who claim that cotton pads are very useful as they will ensure toner or essence are distributed equally on every corner of our skin while at the same gently exfoliate and deep cleanse.

Frankly speaking, I think both thoughts are true in their own ways. Whether or not you want or need to use cotton pad highly depends on your skincare needs.

I have a lot of cotton pads, puffs and swabs, and I use them for different purposes:

  • I normally use softer but affordable drugstore cotton pads to remove makeup or sunscreen on a daily basis
  • for toner or essence I will use slightly more expensive ones
  • I also have cotton pads with rougher side for exfoliating purposes
  • Occasionally, I will also use thinner non-woven type cotton pad and soak them with essence or toner to serve as mini facial mask. This mini masking trend is very popular in Taiwan and Japan. A lot of girls even do this every day to maximize moisture retention of skincare on their face

Etude House My Beauty Tool Paper Stick Cotton Swabs


One of the best cotton swabs I've ever used. This is made of 100% cotton and paper with round tip on both edges. Not only does the packaging look super adorable, the swabs itself are also higher in quality without leaving any cotton bits like the one I found on cheaper Premier or Watsons cotton swabs.

Etude House My Beauty Tool Embossed Cotton Puff 150s


This is a pretty nice embossed cotton puffs, and looks cute too. I normally use it with a toner or watery essence to help the products permeate better. I learn this from SK-II beauty adviser, for essence, you gotta press the soaked cotton on your skin to let the skin absorbs the essence; but for toner, you just swipe it across your skin. I think this embossed cotton puffs work best for the pressing part not the swiping part. It will produce lints if you swipe it across your skin so you will end up getting little cotton lints on your face, and these are the dirt that might stick bacteria to your skin. But apart from the lints, I do think that this is a wonderful cotton puff.

Guardian Cotton Facial Squares 100s


One of the worst cotton pads I've ever used! There is a good reason why this only costs RM 10 per 4 boxes while the Watsons one is priced higher. This cotton pad leaves behind a lot of fiber residues and feels rather plastic when you swipe it across your face. It can even hurt my skin in an ungentle way as if I'm running my face through the sharp edges of paper. The cotton pad can soak up a lot of toner or essence but doesn't feel wet when you swipe it across your skin, as if the cotton itself has eaten most of them. Definitely not recommended!

IOPE Bio-Essence Intensive Conditioning Facial Care Cotton 60s


Another facial cotton that I absolutely loathe despite the fact that it is made by a really great brand - IOPE. This cotton pad comes as a complimentary gift from my purchase of IOPE Bio-Essence Intensive Conditioning. The box may look pretty shinny and nice but is easily squeezed and deformed. The cotton pads inside are not very nice either. They will leave behind a lot of fibers and cotton bits that make you wonder are you actually applying essence or cotton fibers on your skin. I ended up using this for my cleansing water.

Innisfree Eco Beauty Tool Premium Cotton Pads 2.0 80s


This is the 2.0 version of Innisfree premium cotton pads, and it sucks. I haven't used the 3.0 version but I feel that that one was rather good, unlike this 2.0 one which feels like unprocessed cotton for me. Pictures speak better than words, you can definitely observe this for yourself. I think Innisfree is trying to make this a "natural" multilayer cotton pads but somehow ended up screwing it. It takes me a long long time to finish this pack and honestly most of the time I just use it for fun - to enjoy seeing myself tearing it apart and then putting it back together. More like a stress-releasing toy for me.

Laneige Facial Care Dual Cotton 60s


Finally, we have some cool stuffs here. This is a high quality, double sided facial cotton come with the Laneige Clear-C Advanced Effector. As you can see, there are about 4-5 layers of cotton in a single pad, and you can use either side depending on your routine. Normally I will use the rougher "lined" side for exfoliating purpose in the morning and the smoother side for moisturizing and toning in the evening. I sometimes use both at once - exfoliate by swiping the rougher surface across my face and then gently pat in the essence using the smoother surface. Regardless, there is one weakness in this facial cotton - it is too thin and big which will eat up a lot of essence in a single pad hence causing wastage. I don't use this every single day, and when I did I will always take my time with it - exfoliating and then following that up with gentle patting with the smoother surface.

Lirikos Triple Treatment Facial Cotton 60s


Just like the Laneige one, this Lirikos facial cotton comes with the Marine Triple Treatment. There is a total of 60 pieces inside. Like Laneige, this also has two sides - one rougher one smoother. However, in term of quality, I would say that the Laneige is firmer and neater compared to this. I still enjoy using the Lirikos Treatment Essence on this facial cotton though. I feel that this facial cotton compliments the Lirikos Marine Triple Treatment really well. Since it is softer, it also requires lesser essence to wet the entire cotton, cutting back on wastage.

Missha Cotton Swabs 100pcs


One of the most affordable yet quality cotton swabs you can ever get. I got 300 swabs for only about 1,000 won. These swabs are made of paper where you can easily break, tear or burn them. The tips are also quite nicely made and won't fall apart like the cheaper swabs you get from Watsons and Guardian. Really impressed with the quality despite the price.

MUJI Makeup Facial Soft Cut Cotton Unbleached 9 x 7cm


Bought this after one of the store assistants highly recommended it. She said that it is a harmless and more natural choice compared to the peelable one since it is unbleached. However, I find that it is very "raw" and "unprocessed" which makes it not so toner/essence-friendly. It is also really thick and will fall apart pretty easily like raw cotton, so I cannot use it as a mini mask nor can I use it to soak up toner/essence or even cleansing water as it will soak up a lot of those and result in wastage. Not something I would repurchase.

MUJI Peelable Cotton Pads 60s 8.5 x 6cm


Well, I have this impression that Muji produces the best cotton products I can possibly find, so naturally I want to try one of their most popular, always-out-of-stock cotton pads. I bought two, one is the raw unbleached one and the other is this peelable bleached cotton pads. As you can see, the cotton is rather raw but is smoother than the unbleached one. The pros of this Muji peelable cotton pad is that it can be pulled into long string, which is really convenient to use as a mini mask soaked with treatment essence.

Nature Republic Nature Deco Natural Mild Cotton Wipe 100% 80s


I would call this one of the best facial cottons if not the best. At RM 15.90 per box, this may not be the cheapest since you only get 80 pads. However, considering that you can easily separate them into 5 layers and use each pad at least 2-3 times, I would say this is an excellent deal given the quality. The facial cotton is neatly put together but you can easily separate them into 5 different pieces. Some cotton pads tend to stick together a lot. You may accidentally tear them apart when you try to separate them but not for this. There are also rougher and softer surfaces for each pad where you can use to exfoliate and pamper your skin. Definitely an high quality facial cotton for toning and gently exfoliating.

Shiseido Facial Cotton 165s


This Shiseido facial cotton is another really popular cotton pads you can ever find. I bought mine from SASA. It is neat, soft, and convenient to use. Japanese and Taiwanese girls like to soak their toner or essence in a cotton pad and use it as a pre-serum or pre-moisturizer mini 5-minutes facial mask. The Shiseido facial cotton is less effective as a cotton-pad-for-masking compared to Muji peelable one, but is one of the softest facial cotton I can ever find. Definitely a great tool to compliment your toner or essence, or to be used with a cleansing water.

Suzuran Attirer Pure Cotton Puff 240s


Suzuran Attirer Puff is an economical, convenient, thin and neat cotton pads. I bought mine from SASA store, sometimes on sales. I normally use it with a cleansing water, but sometimes also with a cleansing toner or toner. It may not be as soft as the Shiseido or Muji one, but is definitely neat and convenient compared to Watsons and Guardian facial cottons.

The Face Shop Eco Dual Cotton Swabs 200s


One of the best cotton swabs I've ever used. I like everything about it, from its eco packaging, double-headed swabs to the quality of its material. Before I buy 100 pieces of cosmetic spatulas, cotton swab is my favourite tool to scoop eye cream and facial cream out of their containers. In fact, the sharper edge of the swab makes it easy to scoop just a pea size amount of eye cream I need for my eyes area. Definitely something I would repurchase after running out.

The Face Shop Silky & Soft Cotton Pads 80s


Despite my love for The Face Shop cotton swabs, I don't like this silky & soft cotton pads as much. I think its material is rougher compared to many other facial cottons I use before. It also kinda hurts my skin a little when I swipe it across my face hence nowadays I only use it with cleansing water to finish it up. Individuals with rougher and less sensitive skin may enjoy this though. Besides, it is so cute and convenient with the "little pocket" where you can insert your fingers. Aside from its rougher texture, I still enjoy my time with it!

Watsons Side Sealed Facial Cotton Puffs 100s


For some reasons, I think Watsons produces better quality facial cotton puffs compared to Guardian, although Guardian's ones are slightly cheaper. You can always get 4 boxes of Guardian facial cottons at RM 10 but you can only get 3 boxes of Watsons for the same price. I am not sure has that changed when I write this review since that was 1-2 years ago. Anyhow, back to the product. This Watsons Side-Sealed Facial Puffs is one of the bests for the price. I mean, at RM 3 for 100 pieces, what else do you expect. I think it is as soft as Missha and many other facial cottons I've tried but the material feels slightly more plasticky than cottony. It kinda feels like The Face Shop Silky & Soft Cotton Pads. However, I still enjoy using it as a cleansing tool or sometimes with a toner. Definitely a high CP product for the quality.

Watsons Air-Laid Facial Puffs 90s (folded)


This is a multipurpose, non-woven and thin cotton puffs mostly used with a toner or treatment essence. In Taiwan, most girls will soak their toner or watery essence on a puff like this and spread it all over the face for 3-5 minutes before continuing with their skincare routine. I did that sometimes, and found that it actually softens and hydrates my skin really well. My skin stays plump 1-2 hours after these mini masking session even without applying anything. The feeling is different from applying facial mask where the treatment is more intense. This is more like a SPA session for the face. In short, these Watsons non-woven Air-Laid Facial Puffs is one of the best I can find for the benefits and quality it offers in Malaysia.

Watsons Premium Non Woven Facial Puffs 180s


I think the air-laid facial cotton works better than the non-woven facial puff. The Non-Woven Facial Puff is a rather firm cotton puff that will not tear, break or produce lints. However, it doesn't absorb water well if compared to many other cotton puffs I have tried. I don't find it useful as a cotton puff for watery essence as the puff is not soft or wet enough to smooth over the skin. It is also not particularly useful as a toner puff either for the same reason. And since it is so "firm", it doesn't cling well to the skin so I cannot use this as lotion mask either. In the end, I just use this to remove my nail polish. I will not repurchase after this.

Watsons Round Facial Cotton Puffs 100s


This is a normal facial cotton made of raw cotton. It tears and deforms easily so it may not be the best facial cotton for toner or essence. Normally, I just use it to remove heavy makeup, eye makeup and nail polish. This round puff also tends to pick up a lot of the product so it might be a waste for toner or essence-type products. I would avoid using it on anything "more expensive". Din't find it practical, would not repurchase.

Ximivogue Cosmetic Cotton





I bought this at a local Korean concept store. There are two types of cotton puffs inside: one is a pocket-type cotton puff for toning and patting purpose and the other one is a thin cotton puff that you can either use as a lotion mask, toner puff or essence puff. The reason why I bought this is because I was attracted to the thin cotton puff. I find it perfect as a toner puff since it will not absorb too much toner and is smooth enough for my face. However, I realize that since this is so small and thin, I cannot really hold it between my fingers hence making the smoothing, patting and swiping process rather difficult. And the cotton feels kinda rough and plasticky as well. It is a shame since I have rather high expectation on it. I end up using several cotton puffs at once with a cleansing water.

I will keep adding facial cottons I have used in this section so stay tuned! Also leave me a comment if you are interested in any particular facial cottons!


[Disclaimer] This is NOT a sponsored review. Products are purchased with my own money. All copy right of contents and images in this article is strictly mine.
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