Just going to put this out there: Cleanser commercials lie. There's no telling exactly how the Neutrogena or Clean & Clear spokespeople can effectively rinse by just splashing water up at their faces, but it doesn't work outside of made-for-TV slow-mo. (Have you ever tried it? Makes a total mess of your bathroom floor no matter how far over the sink you lean.) Maybe it's less whimsical, but you should be removing your cleanser with more than just water and your hands, which means it's time to start paying attention to washcloths—because we're adults, and adults take charge of their lives like that. These are essentially towels for your face (and we've already established that towels should be a luxurious experience), which means you're going to want a good one (or a few), and you're going to want to wash it often. Better yet, buy a week's worth, and use a new one every day. That way, there's no fear of bacterial growth in anything that goes near your face.
Before we begin, there's a few categories to review, specific to what you want to accomplish while washing. Most familiar are the plain-old terry cloth washcloths, the ones you may have stolen from your mother's linen closet before moving out. Yes, you need a new one. Why? Because the more you wash cotton, the more brittle it becomes. Now, if you're looking for brittle with purpose, investigate the exfoliating category of cloths. Some resemble regular sized washcloths, some are expansive and can envelop your whole body—we'll get to that one last. Either way, here's a roundup of the most worthy contenders:
Aurelia Probiotic Skincare Monday to Sunday Bamboo Muslins
Certainly the most luxurious of the bunch, these clothes (which come adorably tied up in a pack of seven in their own neat and tidy box) are really more like handkerchiefs. Made of antibacterial bamboo, they're delicate enough for you to forget that you're simultaneously removing makeup and stimulating circulation and cell renewal while scrubbing. But that's why we're here—to remind you.
Eve Lom Muslin Cleansing Cloths
Ah, Eve Lom—you face washing queen, you. Buy the Cleanser and Muslin Cloth in a set and it comes with this simple, almost rough, cloth and extensive directions on exactly how to fill your sink, submerge the cloth, and hold it over your face, etc. Alternatively, buy the cloth on its own in a pack of three, and read the directions for free online. Either way, your nightly routine will be upgraded.
Aquis Essentials Exfoliating Wash Cloth
Rougher than your average washcloth fare, this cloth falls into the “not-every-day' category. As 13-year-old Rowan Blanchard reminds us, it's bad to over-exfoliate. Aquis has dual-textured technology that keeps the experience from being too coarse (that's a fancy way of saying there's a scratchy side and a not-so-scratchy side).
Bamboosa Adult Washcloths
Contrary to what the name might suggest, when we got this one, we were pretty sure it was for a baby. Which doesn’t mean you can’t use it to feel baby soft. Everyone could use something lightweight and gentle every now and again. Also of note: This one is super-absorbent, even taking size into consideration.
Omorovicza Cleansing Mitt
If you’ve ever wanted a washcloth but been overwhelmed with the feeling that you just can’t get a satisfying grip on it, rest assured that this one is actually a mitt and requires no holding of any, sort save for slipping it over one hand. It's also fluffy as all get out. Like rubbing your face in a cloud of cotton goodness.
Josie Maran Deep Cleaning Microfiber & Muslin Cleansing Cloth
Josie used to sell just the cloth on QVC, but now you can only get it when you purchase the Argan Cleansing Treatment. It's a little disappointing, but a good two-for-one if you're looking for a super luxurious cleansing ritual to splurge on. The solid cleanser is gentle and moisturizing—and you can justify the purchase to yourself when you realized that, unlike the treatment, the cloth won't run out eventually.
Ever had a fantasy about meeting a burly lumberjack-type and rubbing your face up against his shirt? That's this in a washcloth. Because the concept of a face flannel is just as good as it sounds. It's silky-soft and manages to get better with frequent washing. Hunky Brooklynite not included.
** Dermalogica The Ultimate Buffing Cloth
**Reread everything written above for Aquis and then triple it. This is your loofa alternative. It’s big, it’s rough, and it’s probably best for your body. But unlike a loofa, this one isn’t as liable to sprout black mold when you leave it in your shower for more than an hour. This is because, when unfurled, it’s super thin—so thin you can see through it. Worth a mention, but still, use with caution.
Photographed by Tom Newton.