Updated: Mar 8
It's February, so I'm writing some love letters to my favourite Skincare bits! This week: the humble facecloth.
Lets clear something up right away. The face cloth goes by different names. Face cloth, wash cloth, flannel. It's all the same thing - it's just regional variations. Basically we are talking about a cotton loop-terry-cloth square, like a mini bath towel, that you use to wash or dry your face.
But I'm a splasher!
If you're a splasher, there's not much I can do to help you - you've made your own destiny. But... I guess there's room for everyone in this little world, so if you're happier not using a face cloth to cleanse, then that's fine with me. It's weird! But it's fine.
Let me count the ways - What I love about you, face cloth:
- I use you every day, morning and night, and you are always there for me
- I don't need to re-purchase again and again
- You exfoliate like nobody's business
- You make me glow
- You clean my face so that my products work better
How to Use Your Face Cloth
By now you all know my prime directive: DO WHAT WORKS. So if you have your own technique that suits your skin and you're happy, then I'm happy. Otherwise, here are some tips.
Use a clean cloth.
Wet your cloth under the tap, use warm, not hot water.
Wring it out so that the cloth is damp, not dripping.
Drape the warm cloth over your face and enjoy! This is particularly effective if you use a balm or oil cleanser as these products work better when they melt a bit. This is basically Hot Cloth Technique, but the water shouldn't actually be hot. Draping feels great, but it also helps to start to loosen everything up.
Massage: don't just rub and scrub. After massaging the cleanser onto the skin, I use a three-finger approach with my cloth: I drape the damp cloth over my three extended fingers and then proceed to massage in small circular motions all around the surface of my skin. Reposition the cloth as you work different areas.
Adjust the pressure! Even a light touch will yield great results. You don't need to apply much pressure, a gentle massage can be just as effective as a hard scrub. If your skin is tough and likes the exfoliation, go for it!
Take your time. Your first cleanse should be the quick one so you're not just pushing grime around your face. Your second cleanse should take longer - this is where you really wash the surface of the skin and prep for your next steps.
Rinse and wring as you go. If you like you can fill the basin and rinse it out that way. But if this is your way, make sure the sink is clean, and don't reuse the water!
What is the role of a face cloth in Skincare?
There are two main jobs that your face cloth will do.
Soften and melt the dirt from the surface of your skin. When you cleanse you shouldn't just be counting on your cleanser to do all the work, your cloth is what clears it all away.
Exfoliate by clearing any loose dead skin. This is true for everyone, whether you use chemical exfoliators or not. If you DON'T use chemical exfoliation then cleansing is the main step for exfoliation and your cloth will be doing most of the work. If you DO use acid exfoliation then it's especially important to use a cloth the next day - chemical exfoliators don't remove the dead cells! They only loosen the cells to prepare them for removal by physical means.
a Crazy thing I do with my face cloth
I use it dry sometimes. Wait? What! Yep... I guess you could call this more of a *polish* than a cleanse. I love doing this right after a bath, in combination with a treatment cleanser like Sanscrit Saponins, or a clay mask, even an exfoliator (but only the right one).
Different types of face cloth
MICROFIBRE: I'm not personally a huge fan. I don't like the feel of it on my skin. I don't like the fact that it's polyester and will shed micro-plastics. I find microfibre too soft. I especially don't like the idea of Face Halo type water-free systems. But, if you do, that's just fine. Do what works!
FANCY FACE CLOTHS: it depends a bit on what makes the cloth fancy. If it's fancy because it's all soft and fluffy then it's probably not going to be great for washing your face; it will probably shed and be too soft to be very effective. Keep your expensive and pretty cloths for show. Unless it makes you feel special, then use what makes you happy (and works).
SPECIALTY FACE CLOTHS: these are fancy face cloths made of skin-friendly alternatives to cotton terry. For example, hemp or linen. The are likely to be a flat weave, rather than having loops. These cloths can be an excellent way to go *luxe* in your routine and are a great investment as they are very long-wearing. Hemp and linen have anti-bacterial qualities so that's great for skincare. These cloths are also more environmentally friendly and more likely to be ethically produced.
EXFOLIATING CLOTHS: are usually rough, often plastic, scrubby cloths that are probably too harsh for use on the face.
Purchasing your face cloths
Get what YOU like and get lots of them! Many big box stores carry jumbo packs of cloths in every colour. I personally prefer cheap cloths because I don't like it too soft or fluffy. I don't like it when cloths shed on my face, and this stage lasts longer with more expensive cloths. Check out places like: IKEA, grocery stores, household stores, discount shops and online retailers. DON'T SHOP AT AMAZON (not because the cloths are no good, but because they don't pay taxes or fair working wages).
HOW MANY? I literally have dozens of cloths. Get as many as you will get through between wash days, and then double it!
DOES COLOUR MATTER? This is another personal area. Some people like white because they like to see the dirt coming off. Realistically, white cloths will never stay white. On the other hand, dark cloths will bleed dye for the first little while, which isn't great for the skin, but this will stop after a bit. I don't really feel the need to match them to my decor because I don't put my giant bin full of cloths on display. I guess unbleached cotton would be best skin-wise, but hard to source. Pick whatever sparks joy!
Tips for caring for your face cloths
Change your cloth at least once per day. I grab a new cloth for second cleanse, then hang it up, use for my AM face swipe the next morning (I don't use a cleanser in the morning, just a quick layer of oil and hot cloth technique), then hang it again and use it for first cleanse that evening. You may want to change your cloth MORE often than that, but probably not LESS often.
If you use your cloth more than once make sure to hang it up between uses so it can dry. If you don't have a hook you can hang it over the shower bar or side of the tub.
I wash my cloths on hot because that's my default temperature for stuff that touches my skin. But if your machine is doing it's job properly your cloths should be okay with cold water wash.
Try and a