The Gauze Facial


Do you know what the inside of my bathroom cabinet looks like? Toners, everywhere. Moisturizing ones, pH-balancing ones, and exfoliating ones. Some that smell vaguely medicinal and wholly unnatural (my true loves), and some...that leave room for improvement. I’ve got toners that aren’t technically toners, but seeing as how I use them immediately after cleansing (the official ITG definition of a toner), I call them toners anyway. I just like to tone, guys! It’s probably the most consistent part of my daily routine. You’re more likely to catch me on a day I haven’t washed my body than on a day I haven’t toned.

But you can’t just tone alone. You need something—a tool of sorts. This tool was a cotton ball, back when I was a young and misguided astringent user. I graduated to cotton rounds, to alcohol-free toners, and then to padded squares. Slowly making my way towards bigger and better modes of toning—including a time when I patted toner directly onto my skin with my fingers. Different, but not good enough. Nothing like the sweet satisfaction of something soft yet mildly abrasive gliding across my face. Which is why my latest toning “tool” is...medical gauze. Yes, the natural progression of this narrative.

Gauze is a cotton pad’s sophisticated cousin—calming and well-traveled. Typically used to dress wounds. Since it’s thinner than traditional cotton pads, gauze absorbs less toner, which means less toner gets wasted. At the same time it lightly exfoliates (thanks to its signature weave pattern), so it feels more effective than eliminating a pad altogether, while still prepping skin for the next step. As a bonus, it's kinder to the environment because it's reusable. And while I know that some folks have been using gauze for years, I’m just a newbie.

It was a slow transition to the gauze life. About a year ago I started to notice that estheticians were using it on my face in place of cotton pads. Then a few months ago I met Sue Nabi, biochemist, former L’Oréal president (her team created Lancôme’s Génifique), and founder of Orveda. Sue was in the middle of introducing Orveda to me when—front row, center! Medical gauze! Right there in Orveda’s lineup, to complement its own toner. “The gauze doesn’t leave tiny fibers on your skin, like cotton pads might,” Sue told me. And a few days later while I was still absorbing that bit of information, I spotted gauze in a skincare interview. Signs—they’re everywhere!

The most difficult part of toning with gauze is figuring out which gauze to use. There are sterile, medicated ones you can skip. Orveda’s are great, but you need to buy The Healing Sap to get it. I recommend simple reusable ones from Amazon. Cut into 2-inch by 2-inch squares, hand-washed after use, and hung dry. I wait until I’ve collected a week’s worth and wash the little guys with a salad spinner. It’s the perfect job for that kitchen gizmo. In my home, at least.

—Ashley Weatherford

Photo via ITG