Cotton: The Fabric Of Our...Skin?

Photo: Courtesy of Nyakio.
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.
Ahead, see how the fabric of our lives is making its way into our beauty products and onto our bathroom shelves.
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Photo: Courtesy of Votre Vu.
Of the hundreds of masks we’ve tried, we’ve never experienced one with such a light, pillowy consistency. Not only does this French import look and feel like cotton, but it had a soothing effect on our skin — just like the real stuff.
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Photo: Courtesy of Ulta.
Industry-led research shows cotton thistle can help reduce water loss and repair the epidermal layer of skin. This moisturizer, made with cotton thistle and 97% natural ingredients, works on us as a great everyday hydrator — and it's got a lovely scent, to boot.
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Photo: Courtesy of Sephora.
The legs, derriere, and décolleté may typically be considered the body’s hot spots, but come summer, armpits, the backs of knees, and the chest and neck quickly become too hot to handle. This lightly scented powder — which contains a proprietary blend of cotton extracts, seeds, and oils — wicks away moisture without the use of talcum powder (which, some are concerned, may carry a cancer risk in certain forms).
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Photo: Courtesy of Dermstore.
This milky, lightweight serum absorbs quickly and gave our skin a sweet little radiance boost with absolutely no tingly after-burn.
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Photo: Courtesy of Nevo.
Don’t be thrown by the hot-caramel-like consistency of this all-natural pomade/gel hybrid. The styling product — which uses cottonseed protein and shea butter — gave our hair both texture and volume without it looking greasy or feeling weighed down.
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Photo: Courtesy of Ulta.
Unlike many cleansers of its kind, this wash has a moisturizer-like thickness that spreads on the face smoothly and emulsifies into a milky texture with water. Even better, the soap-free formula — made with cotton extract, rice extract, and aloe — lifted makeup, grime, and SPF without making our skin feel tight or dry.
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Photo: Courtesy of Decleor.
Both cotton milk and cotton lipids join rose milk, rose water, lily, white birch bark extract, and pine and grape polyphenols to help soothe and moisturize dry and irritated skin. We love how quickly the light formula melted into our skin and made us feel like we were wearing nothing at all.
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Photo: Courtesy of Nyakio.
Cotton extract is used in this ultra-rich cream to soften and moisturize the skin. We like the way it makes the skin around our eyes feel firmer, but we were really impressed with the J.Lo-like luminous sheen it created above our cheekbones.

Nyakio Firming Eye Balm with Baobab Complex, $45, avaliable in August at HSN.
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Photo: Courtesy of Sephora.
The quickest way to go gray? Apply dry shampoo to your hair instead of directly on the scalp. Thankfully, the nozzle on this bottle ends in a fine point, which gives us more control and allowed us to deposit the powder with precision — right onto our greasy scalps.
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