I’m a facial cotton snob. It wasn’t always this way, but ever since I tried my first package of Shiseido Facial Cotton, I haven’t looked back. Let me qualify that – I don’t use Shiseido Facial Cotton exclusively – I only use it for removing my eye makeup. The pillowy softness of this cotton is especially appreciated against the delicate skin around the eyes. Now when I use non-Shiseido cottons on my eye area, I feel like I’m using sandpaper (I exaggerate, but really, like 80-grit). For everything else – toner, exfoliants, nail polish removal – I use other cottons.
I was happily shelling out $9 per package for the Shiseido cotton, until one day, about 2 years ago, the Shiseido counter lady informed me that the price was going up soon… to $11 per pack! That’s a 22% increase! In my mind, this crossed over some imaginary threshold, and this item became “too expensive”. I rushed to purchase half a dozen packs of the cotton at the $9 price. My current stock is still the $9 price, but the supply is dwindling. Then I began to notice that drugstore brands were coming out with their own versions of square facial cottons that look suspiciously similar to the Shiseido cotton packaging:
So I set out to find out if they’re dupes!
First, let’s talk about the Shiseido facial cotton, or the “control” for this comparison:
Shiseido Facial Cotton – $11 for 165 sheets (department stores, drugstores, online)
This is the pinnacle of luxury facial cotton. It’s soft, yet durable. It’s lint free. It’s absorbent so that it holds liquids without dripping. It is made in Japan and it’s certified to be free of harmful substances by Oeko-Tex Standard 100. I can’t think of anything bad to say about this except that it’s pricey. This never goes on sale, and with my once a day habit, it costs about $24.33 per year. That doesn’t seem too bad, right? 😉
Stash worthiness: 10/10
Kit Premium Square Cosmetic Pads – $8.59 for 165 count, 85g (Rexall)
This is Rexall’s private label brand. This is not a dupe for the Shiseido by any stretch, but it was ok. It had a smooth surface and a fluffy core. I found it felt a bit rough against the eye, and it wasn’t as absorbent as the Shiseido. This is made in China. I bought this at 40% off the regular price so I’m not too mad. This could be a step up in quality for those who would like to try facial cotton similar to Shiseido but don’t want to shell out $11 per pack. I like that Kit lists the weight of the cotton – I wish the other cottons would as well, and then I can really compare them properly.
Stash worthiness: 6/10
Quo Luxury Cotton Facial Pads – $7.50 for 165 count (Shoppers Drug Mart)
I was very excited for this – the frosted bag, the word “Luxury”… Shoppers sells this right alongside the Shiseido, but this was a deceptive product! Not only was it NOT luxurious, it was the least soft (and it felt downright scratchy on my eye area) and least absorbent of the ones I tried. Big phooey on Shoppers! The only thing I would use this for is nail polish removal – that’s how I’ll use up this pack. Good thing this was the least expensive one out of the 3 types. And it does go on sale regularly for 25% off. This is made in China as well.
Stash worthiness: 4/10
As you can see, when I stack the 10 pieces of each cotton, the fluffiest is Shiseido. Also, Shiseido doesn’t have the jagged sharp cut edges which can be a bit scratchy. The rougher surface of Quo can be seen here too.
I pulled the cottons apart slightly and then folded them over to show how they hold up, and how linty each was. The Quo one was by far the lintiest and did not hold its shape as well as the other two.
The one thing that I would say was an improvement over Shiseido is that both Kit and Quo have resealable bags – I always thought it was rather cheap of Shiseido to just have a bag without any perforations for opening it, or a resealable strip. So alas, the Kit and Quo are not dupes for Shiseido. I guess I’ll be forking out $11 per pack for the Shiseido once my stash of $9 packs are finished.
Have you tried Shiseido Facial Cotton? Have you found any less expensive dupes for it? What’s your favourite facial cotton?