Cotton pads are the unsung hero of any skin care routine, and the best ones will help keep your skin as healthy as possible.
Robin MosleyFormer CNET writer
Robin Mosley (she/her) formerly wrote commerce deals for CNET about beauty, fashion and other essential gear. Before that, she freelanced for Healthline, Simply Recipes and Nerd Street. She is a Chicago native living on the East Coast who is a fan of all things beauty, food, gaming and tech. When she isn't writing, she's at a restaurant, shopping online or making YouTube gaming videos.
You might think using a washcloth is the best way to remove skin care products and makeup. But it's not. Early on, I was still using a washcloth as part of my skin care regimen, and not only was it too rough, it never seemed to remove my makeup completely, which caused my skin to break out. (And than there was the laundry hamper full of dirty washcloths.) Eventually, I discovered the effectiveness of cotton pads, plus how simple and inexpensive they are to use.
I've looked far and wide for the best cotton pads, whether you'll be using them to apply toner or remove makeup or nail polish. The best I've found for daily use are the White Rabbit Premium Pads, though any of the cotton pads on this list will do the job well.
These cotton pads by White Rabbit are made entirely of cotton. By design, you can use these pads to remove makeup, as a DIY facial mask sheet by soaking them in the toner or essence of your choosing. With more than 200 pads available in a pack, you can rely on them to provide long-lasting performance and a lint-free finish on your face.
Given that Q-tips is a well-known brand for its cotton swabs, it should come as no surprise that the company would venture into the cotton pad market, as well. All 75 of these pads are dual-sided: One side is quilted for the application of toners and thicker products like lotion, while the other side is smoother for removing makeup and nail polish.
If you're worried about cotton pads being too harsh on your skin, these Muji cotton pads will help you put on and take off beauty products with ease. You can buy these cotton pads in packs of two or simply one, giving you 180 to use. The unbleached cotton makes these pads unique in that they won't absorb a lot of product, which is ideal for extending the life of your skin care products.
When it comes to bulk, sometimes nothing beats Amazon. These cotton pads from AmazonBasics come in a six-pack with 100 pads each. You can apply toner, remove makeup and clean your nails like any other cotton pad. AmazonBasics cotton pads are great for people who will use them frequently and require a large quantity for their beauty needs.
Having reusable cotton pads on hand is a terrific way to be environmentally conscious while also ensuring that you always have cotton pads on hand. These cotton pads from Greenzla are made from organic bamboo cotton and are suitable for all skin types. Greenzla cotton pads come in a bundle of 20 reusable pads with a drawstring laundry bag, so you can keep track of your cotton pads and wash them all at once.
While LastRound doesn't come with many pads, they are reusable and come with a case that keeps everything together neatly. After you've used them, you can toss them in the washing machine so they'll be ready for your next use. These cotton pads are ideal for applying skin care and removing products, but may become less durable over time if they are frequently used for nail polish removal.
Diane Cotton Squares: For only $9, you get 160 100% cotton squares that you can use. These pads are biodegradable and the packaging is recyclable. Plus, they're durable and smooth.
Organyc Cotton Rounds: Organyc's cotton pads are biodegradable and chemical-free, making them suitable for all skin types. Organyc pads contain a soft center and have a light textured surface on one side.
How I chose the best cotton pads
At their core, cotton pads are all the same in how they work, but the styles are very different. Some cotton pads are small, some are large and some are reusable. With that in mind, I made sure to research three things: the price, style and capacity of each type. The reasoning behind this is that you're likely to buy cotton pads again, so everything on this list is within a reasonable price range. My focus is on the style of cotton pad because the material is all the same -- something has to differentiate them to fit a wide range of beauty needs. Cotton pads also need to be able to last for a long time. Without enough cotton pads, the price might not be worth the purchase.
Cotton Pads FAQs
What are cotton pads used for?
Cotton pads are used for just about anything you can think of regarding your beauty needs. You can use cotton pads to remove fingernail polish and apply skin care products you don't want to get on your hands. You should skip using certain skin care products on cotton pads because they will absorb them.
Are cotton pads good for your face?
Cotton pads are good for your face because they're made to be sensitive enough for a lot of skin types. What you shouldn't do is reuse nonreusable cotton pads on your skin more than once. When you do that, you're spreading makeup and other unwanted products back onto your skin. If you're using reusable cotton pads, the only time they might cause breakouts is when you don't wash them properly.