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The Steamy, Hot Cloth Cleanser Challenge


More than a decade ago, Liz Earle launched a little product called the Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser that skyrocketed her natural beauty brand to success, and subsequently revolutionized the entire concept of at-home facial exfoliation. (For the uninitiated, the basic hot-cloth system involves two steps: massaging a creamy cleanser on dry skin with your fingertips, then gently rubbing off said cleanser with a textured cloth that’s been dipped in warm water.) Recently two new hot cloth cleanser kits hit our radar, both touting impressive formulas and results. Curious to see if any of these upstarts could rival Earle’s original, a, er, face-off ensued (sorry!)

The British Bargain

Launched in August, Boots No. 7 Radiance Boosting Hot Cloth Cleanser is the latest from the popular U.K.-based drugstore brand with a solid reputation for quality skincare. The cleanser scores points for its luxurious, emollient formula (it contains cocoa butter and pro vitamin B5) and relaxing scent (a whiff of calming floral notes that some might prefer to Earle’s energizing woodsy aroma). But corners were cut in the cloth department, as the fabric resembles first-aid cotton gauze at best and feels a bit abrasive on the skin. Still, we appreciated the DIY tips on the package, such as the hint to rub in upward circles and place the damp cloth on the face for a few seconds to steam pores. And the $9 bargain price is also quite nice, compared to the $24.50 cost of Earle’s kit.

The Northern Light

Up next is Skyn Iceland’s Pure Cloud Cleanser, which bowed last month. In addition to cocoa butter and vitamin E, the cleanser boasts replenishing Icelandic extracts like Angelica archangelica, an herb that seals in moisture, and aloe extract to soften delicate skin. Yet for some reason, we couldn’t get excited about this product—the consistency was a little thin for our liking, and the lack of scent, while a possible pro for sensitive types, took away from the spa-sensory experience for us. But the biggest disappointment was the cloth: It’s the size of a cocktail napkin, making it tricky to sweep over the face to slough skin. At $28, it’s the priciest of the bunch, too.

The Bottom Line

Earle’s original is still our number one. Not only does the formula effectively refine skin with an unbeatable combo of rosemary, chamomile, and beeswax, but the kit includes two cloths of generous size and a pretty zip storage pouch (a real upgrade from the cardboard boxes that contain the others). If you do go with Boots’ decent and affordable alternative, we suggest splurging for a fancier cloth with the money you’ve saved.


Photo: From left, courtesy of Boots No. 7; Liz Earle; Skyn Iceland

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