Did you know that not all cotton pads are created equal? When it comes to applying liquid skin care products like toner and essence, using the right type of cotton pads can make a huge difference. Some cotton pads fall apart when soaked with liquid, some waste product by absorbing liquid too well, and others leave lint behind on your skin. More importantly, many drugstore options are roughly-textured or made with harmful dyes and other toxic chemicals that can irritate sensitive skin. The best cotton pads for toner, on the other hand, will do none of these things — so keep reading ahead to discover five gentle alternatives that will convince you to leave those flimsy drugstore cotton balls behind for good.
While splurging out on fancy cotton pads from stores like Sephora might not seem sustainable, here's the good news: Amazon is home to dozens of luxurious cotton pads that you can buy in bulk, and at a bargain — including Shiseido's legendary Facial Cottons. You can even find reusable cotton pads that you can wash over and over again, to reduce waste.
The cotton pads below are all soft, made with skin-friendly ingredients, and absorb toner just well enough to effectively distribute it onto your skin.
1. The Overall Best Cotton Pads For Toner
The cotton pads that turned me and countless others into converts: Shiseido's glorious Facial Cottons. These super soft pads somehow absorb the perfect amount of toner, delivering a concentrated dose onto your skin with each swipe. They never rip, fall apart, or pill and feel divine on your face. Try them out for yourself, and trust me: you'll understand.
2. Runner Up: These Unbleached, Organic K-Beauty Favorites
Another great choice is this 200-pack box from Korean brand White Rabbit. They're organic, unbleached, and made of 100 percent natural cotton that's never been treated with fertilizer or pesticides, unlike other types of low-quality cotton. Perfect for applying toner and essence, their thinness ensures you're never wasting any product. Each square is actually folded twice, so you get double the use out of one pad — unfolded, they're about the size of a tissue. Reviewers also enjoy using them for creating their DIY toning pads and sheet masks, and they never leave any fuzz behind.
3. Best Value: Two Packs Of 180 From A Cult Japanese Brand
These fan-favorites from MUJI are a popular dupe for Shiseido's Facial Cottons. They're almost equally as soft, but perhaps a bit less durable and fluffy, so they may absorb a bit more liquid. Made of 100 percent unbleached cotton, like White Rabbits, you can score two packs of 180 — 360 total — for under $15.
"These squares are absolutely perfect for use with my toner," said one reviewer, while another called them a "nearly identical budget friendly alternative to Shiseido's cotton."
4. Most Durable: These Sealed-End Pads That Can Handle Nail Polish Remover, Too
If you're after cotton pads with sealed-off ends, DHC's Silky Cotton might be the more durable choice. Though less soft than the first three products on this list, you'll be able to take off nail polish with them more effectively. Fans love how strong they are, and they never fall apart or leave any traces of lint behind on their skin
"[They] don't soak up your product like other inferior pads do. My toner sits right on top of the pad allowing me to swipe the product across my face and not have to waste my toner by having to use more," one reviewer raves.
5. Most Eco-Friendly: This Set Of 16 Reusable Bamboo Cotton Rounds
Because sustainability is more important than ever, you might want to look into using reusable cotton pads, which are less wasteful. Made with super soft bamboo cotton, they're also lightly textured for gentle exfoliation. The best part is, you can wash them over and over again, by hand or in the washing machine. They come with an included laundry bag to wash them in, if you choose to throw them in the machine, so you don't lose them in the process. Use each one up to 1,000 times — they come in a pack of 16.
Bustle may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was created independently from Bustle's editorial and sales departments.