This One Product Can Elevate Your Cleansing Routine & It's Sensitive-Skin-Approved
Jamie Schneider is the Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen, covering beauty and wellness. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare.
There are a number of factors that can take your face wash routine from meh to magical. Are you choosing the right cleanser? Do you massage said solution in with your fingers? A washcloth? Or, perhaps, a muslin cloth? According to the experts, the latter can elevate your routine and leave you with a healthy glow.
Here's everything you need to know about the sensitive-skin staple, plus exactly how to incorporate muslin cloths into your routine.
What are muslin cloths?
Muslin cloths are made of 100% cotton fabric. They're multilayered and finely woven, making them extremely soft on the skin (fit for even baby skin!). However, due to the woven texture of the cloth, they also gently exfoliate. That's why those with sensitive skin tend to love 'em, because the cloths physically slough off dead skin without any sort of intense scrubbing or potentially irritating product—just a simple cleanser (or even water) will work.
As mentioned, muslin cloths are stellar for some light exfoliation. "A muslin cloth is a gentle way to exfoliate the skin without harsh chemicals or irritants," says celebrity facialist Cecilia Wong, founder of Cecilia Wong Skincare. "It's particularly great for those who have sensitive skin." Also according to Wong, they're a great alternative to a cleansing brush, which do exfoliate but "can often accumulate bacteria buildup." And unlike an electric brush option, you have total control of the pressure and speed.
Cleansing with a muslin cloth also increases blood flow and circulation, which is great for stimulating collagen and pumping oxygen and nutrients to those skin cells, making your skin look plump and glowy post-rinse. And after the final wipe, your skin is primed and ready for active ingredients to penetrate those pores.
The cleanup is also quite simple: Just chuck them into the washing machine or clean them by hand.
Muslin cloths vs. washcloths.
Let it be known: "Even the softest washcloth is still not as soft and gentle as a muslin cloth," says board-certified dermatologist Hadley King, M.D. What's more, a soft microfiber towel may not lend the exfoliation you're craving; a terry cloth, way too abrasive. Muslin cloths live in that happy medium, offering just the right amount of exfoliation while keeping sensitive skin soft and smooth.
Whether you use them to exfoliate, deeply cleanse, or swipe on a toner (more on that in a minute!), muslin cloths absorb products and glide across the skin with ease—a type of washcloth that's fit for the delicate skin of the face, if you will.
How to use a muslin cloth.
Simple they may be, but these little cloths have a variety of uses in your skin care routine. Take a gander below:
- To massage in a cleanser: After cleansing your skin, use a muslin cloth to wipe off the wash. "Simply apply the cloth on skin with circular motions working the cheeks, forehead, nose, and avoid the eyes," says Wong. King seconds the notion, saying they're particularly great for massaging in oil and balm cleansers.
- To apply toner, if you use one: Similar to cotton rounds, muslin cloths are great for depositing toner on the skin (plus, they're reusable. Read: Chuck them into the washing machine or rinse them by hand). All you need to do is saturate the cloth with product, then sweep it on.
- To exfoliate the lips: If you have particularly rough, flaky regions (like, say, the lips), you can use a damp muslin cloth, sans cleanser, to gently buff the skin smooth. As Wong advises, simply wet the cloth and gently massage in circular motions.
- As a cool compress: Because they're so thin and finely woven, muslin cloths are super absorbent. That said, they make for an excellent cold compress—say, if you're facing an itchy eczema flare-up or looking for a cooling sensation post-workout. Simply drench the cloth in water, place in the fridge for a few minutes (especially lovely for soothing inflammation), and place on any irritated areas.
Plenty of avenues to explore here, all with one ultrafine sheet. Although, mind King's word of caution before grabbing your muslin: Don't let the softness of the cloth trick you into scrubbing too hard, especially while washing off a cleanser. "It's important to use only gentle pressure," she says. "Scrubbing too hard can cause irritation and inflammation."
Who shouldn't use it?
Even the most sensitive of skin can benefit from a muslin cloth. However, "I'd recommend avoiding use on open wounds or acne," Wong mentions, so you don't irritate them further.
We should also note that you must always, always start with a clean, dry muslin cloth. If it's dirty and damp, it's likely a hotbed for bacteria—and you definitely don't want to massage that grime into your face. Always clean the cloths after each use, and let them dry completely before stepping up to the sink, King advises.
If you're in the market for some gentle physical exfoliation—or just a really good cleanse—look no further than a muslin cloth. They're great for every skin type (let the sensitive skinned among us rejoice), and they're incredibly easy to use in your routine.
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Jamie Schneider is the Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare. In her role at mbg, she reports on everything from the top beauty industry trends, to the gut-skin connection and the microbiome, to the latest expert makeup hacks. She currently lives in New York City.