Hear Me Out: Luxury Facial Cotton Is TOTALLY Worth It

Photo: Courtesy of Koh Gen Do
One Sunday earlier this year, I found myself laying topless, face-up on a bed in a back room of Barneys New York. (Did you see this going elsewhere, dear reader?) Diane Nakauchi, the CEO of Koh Gen Do, a Japanese beauty brand favored by elite makeup artists, was examining my face.
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"We're going to do a lotion pack," she said, and began applying tiny strips of wet paper to my face. I had never heard this term before, so after she was done, I pulled out my cell phone and took a selfie (because, obviously). Nakauchi had created a sheet mask using a toning lotion and peeled-apart pieces of luxury facial cotton. Here's how terrifying and awesome it looked.
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The best Sunday ever? Lymphatic drainage and an epic facial with @KohGenDo at @BarneysNYOfficial. I couldn't smile because of the pads on my face, but peep this tip from the brand's CEO: Saturate cotton pads in lotion. Then, separate them and apply the thin layers all over your face. Your skin will be CRAZY supple after. Promise!

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Koh Gen Do's pads are 100% cotton, similar to many of their high-end counterparts, and they're made without fertilizers, bleaches, or pigments. They're soft and fluffy, and they peel apart like the most delicious layer cake — so you can split them in half to get more bang for your buck. You can saturate them in whatever elixir you like for a quick treatment, or use them to remove stubborn makeup without scratching your eyes or leaving behind stray strings. And, since they're so dense, you won't feel product soak through them, like it does with the cheapies. Your lotions and potions won't go anywhere — except on your beautiful face.
However, 60 pads go for $12 — which is radically different from your drugstore beauty buys. (But, they're cheap compared to Chanel's $20 version, a limited-edition run that sold out a few years ago.) This was a massive revelation for me. A year ago, I wouldn't have thought twice about stopping into Duane Reade to pick up a pack of $4 rounds. I go through toner and makeup remover like water, which means I was using between three to four of those a day. Back then, high-quality cotton seemed like an investment.
But, I've come to the conclusion that using a proper facial cotton is a lot like getting real coffee from Blue Bottle or Grady's, instead of Starbucks. Once you do it, you never want to go back to the basic stuff, because life — as your enlightened taste buds know it — will never be the same. I feel like my face has been enlightened, and I'm not ready to quit.
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I'm lucky to have found a sympathizer in Mylah Morales, who many of you know as Rihanna's makeup artist. She's behind some of the best skin I've ever seen: Ms. RiRi, despite a penchant for late nights and salacious behavior, has barely a visible pore on her face. "I use a cotton and gentle lotion on my clients before a red-carpet event or video," says Morales. "They love how it feels on their skin."
It's the mark of a true beauty addict to invest her money where she sees fit. You can cut corners on certain things because of your expert know-how and curation skills, but spend a little more on the items you deem worthy. And, this one was as worthy as Lupita Nyong'o's Oscar win.
Koh Gen Do Pure Cotton Pads, $12, available at Nordstrom.
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