It’s the stuff that makes getting dressed in sticky weather not so stifling, and it’s gentle and absorbent enough to swipe along our skin to remove makeup without agitation. But, cotton, best known for its breathable and soft qualities, is no longer just for our favorite tees.
The fiber's latest turn is as a component of skin care: Serums, masks, moisturizers, and (even a few hair-care staples, too) have been spiked with some aspect of the fluffy plant (like cottonseed oil, cottonseed protein, or cotton milk), which, some companies say, have the ability to help soothe, hydrate, and reduce redness in the skin.
Whether cotton milk can actually calm skin, cottonseed oil can hydrate it, or cotton thistle (another emerging botanical ingredient in skin care) can help repair skin is up for debate. Research from the University of North Texas shows that cotton fibers contain fatty acids, and other studies show that cottonseed oil is rich in the antioxidant tocopherol (vitamin E).
But, outside of that, there’s not much data to show cotton’s benefits for skin or hair, according to Dr. Ranella Hirsch, a Boston-based dermatologist. However, she does concede that, in theory, the idea of cottonseed oil as a hydrator makes sense: “It’s an emollient, and generally, oils can give good moisture,” she says.
Can cotton-spiked products really help moisturize, calm, or regenerate skin or give volume to hair any better than their cotton-free brethren? We’re not sure. But, we do know this: We like how using some of the latest cotton-inspired skin care has affected our complexion.