Glossier's new chemical exfoliant earned an immediate "meh" from me, mostly because they won't release the exact percentage of acids in the product. My very dry, dehydrated, reactive skin will respond one way to < 5% acid (yay!) and another way to close-to-10% acid (proceed with caution), and I know I'm not the only one. To be frank, I think hiding the percentage of active ingredients in your product because "it's a secret formula, teehee!" is just an irresponsible marketing ploy. That goes for just about every skincare company and product out there, including the cult classic Biologique Recherche P50: I'm not buying that shit until I know exactly what's going on my face.
But Glossier also released cotton rounds to go with the solution, and you guys...I'm a sucker for cotton. I've been using that stuff to remove my makeup for years now, and my favorites have long been the soft, durable Shiseido Facial Cottons. Since I'm flush with store credit (thanks for the clicks on my affiliate link, by the way!), I decided to test them out.
Let's talk price first. Shiseido Facial Cotton comes in two sizes: a 40 count travel size for $5 and a 165 standard size for $10. (The price has ticked up about $0.50 since I first started using them.) The Glossier Cotton Rounds come in one 60 count size for $4. Mathematically, that means:
You get 8 cottons per $1 in the travel size Shiseido bag.
You get 16.5 cottons per $1 in the standard size Shiseido bag.
You get 15 cottons per $1 in the Glossier bag.
This makes the Glossier cottons cheaper-per-piece than the travel size Shiseido cotton, but slightly more expensive than the full size Shiseido bag.
The Shiseido cottons come packaged in a thin, translucent sheet of plastic. I usually rip mine open and just pull out cottons as is necessary; they're stacked very tightly and therefore don't fall over or make a mess. The Glossier cottons are packaged in a clear plastic bag, sort of like a stack of Pringles, and are shipped in a silver-and-pink zipper bag. The extra packaging for the Glossier product is a bit wasteful to me, but since they're made in China, I'm assuming they're a private label product and therefore arrive at Glossier headquarters in bulk, blandly packaged. The brand has to fancy it up somehow.
(Images desaturated to better show textures and shapes. And because black and white pictures are cool.)
Pricing and packaging are important, but for me, the mark of a truly great cotton is its texture and durability. The Shiseido cottons have a famously plush, silken texture. They glide across the skin smoothly without pulling or irritating, and they never leave white fuzzies on your face.
The Glossier cottons aren't quite as soft. If I had to compare them to anything, it would be the top of a mattress, both in their texture and their appearance. This doesn't mean they're rough--they're actually decently soft--but they certainly aren't as luxurious feeling as the Shiseido cottons. You also have to be a bit careful of the dotted line around the edge, which I barely notice on most of my face, but can feel a bit pokey if you get it in your eye.
I will give the Glossier cotton rounds the higher score for durability, though. While the Shiseido cottons have never completely torn apart on me, they do start to "fray" a bit after removing an entire face of makeup. By contrast, the Glossier cotton rounds stay together with no fraying or fuzzies. The above cotton round was used to remove this face of makeup (I switched the lipstick to Besame Red Velvet for testing purposes). These are tough little buggers, no doubt.
With that in mind, I'd say that the Shiseido Facial Cottons are still the best choice for makeup removal and serum/toner application. The Glossier Cotton Rounds are also fine for makeup removal, but will work even better for jobs that usually need a little more elbow grease, like taking off your nail polish. In the end, Shiseido remains queen of my cupboard, but Glossier is a fine companion.
GLOSSIER COTTON ROUNDS RATING: 4 out of 5
Glossier products are available at their website. Affiliate link: Glossier.
These products were purchased from Glossier.com using store credit earned through referrals.