According to skin guru Jennifer Brodeur—who counts Michelle Obama and Oprah among her clients—you need a lot.
Unless it’s laundry day, linens are something you likely think about very little—and probably something you’re even less likely to call a passion. And yet, when one man raised a question about household towel quantity, Twitter went into a heated 28-hour frenzy.
A few weeks ago, Abdul Dremali, an award-winning astrophotographer and host of the podcast Unrelatable, asked an open question to the adults of the internet. “Hello, fellow adults. my gf and i have a question…what is the correct amount of towels to own?” he wrote. “I said 10 and she looked at me like i was crazy. we have zero frame of reference on the appropriate amount of towels in a household of two.”
Chrissy Teigen, the Dictionary and IKEA (whose savvy social media manager dubbed the controversy #towelgate) are just a few of the 2500 users who weighed in on the conversation. It was a response from journalist Yashar Ali, however, that sent Twitter into a tailspin. “As a couple you should own a minimum of the following 10 bath sheets, 10 bath towels, 10 hand towels, 20 wash clothes, preferably more,” he tweeted.
Am I willing to give up 50% of my closet space for something that nobody outside my house will ever see? No, I think I prefer shoes to bath sheets. But, at the same time, I have to ask: is the time and money I invest in skincare rendered obsolete by my towel habits? To keep my skin smooth, glowing and bacteria free, how many facecloths should I own, and how often should I be washing them?
Instead of taking my query to social media, I thought it best to consult an expert. But first, I took the question to my coworkers. The office-wide consensus reached as far as the Twitter debate: Lesa Hannah, our beauty director, uses a facecloth once as part of the first step in her double cleanse and tosses it in the hamper; Ben Reyes, our video editor, doesn’t use a facecloth at all; Pahull Bains, associate editor, disputes the word “facecloth” and says the word I’m looking for is “washcloth.” The most interesting response came from Isabel Slone, our fashion features editor, who has developed a very meticulous method that maximizes her facecloth use: she uses the space in each of the four corners of the square towel, saving the middle for last, allowing her to use the towel five times before washing it.
When I begin asking Jennifer Brodeur—the Montreal-based founder of JB Skin Guru and facialist whose client list includes Michelle Obama, Ashley Graham and Oprah—what she thinks of Isabel’s crafty use of cloth space, she practically cuts me off. “No,” she states flatly. “That’s clever, but no.” Here are the top facecloth tips I took away from our chat—starting with her use of the word washcloth over facecloth. (You win this one, Pahull.)
1. Stay away from coloured cloths.
“The first thing that I tell clients, and I say this to every single person I’ve ever worked with, is that you need to walk away from anything that is coloured. You don’t want to use a washcloth that has any dye. So you’re going to walk away from the blacks, the reds, and the purples because if you wear lots of makeup, you can’t really see it on the cloth. But also, a lot of women are very sensitive to dye. So first thing’s first, you want something that’s completely white.”
2. For your face only.
“You’re going to want to have a washcloth that is really, really specific—something that’s just for your face. It isn’t the same one you’re going to use to wash your pots, wash your feet or wash any other body bits or parts. It’s face, neck and decollete only.”
3. Invest in a quality product.
“And then, what I usually recommend if you can, is to invest in the organic bamboo muslin facecloths.”
4. One cloth per wash.
“You need a minimum of seven. Which means you use one a day. In the best of worlds, you would only cleanse in the evening. I usually tell women that in the evening, you’re going to want to wash with your washcloth. Then, in the morning you won’t need it. So you should need just seven—but if you’re cleansing twice a day, morning and evening, you need 14.”
5. Wash it like a nappy.
“If we’re going to be sensitive about what’s on that washcloth in terms of dyes, we’re also going to be extremely sensitive about how we wash that washcloth. I treat a washcloth in the same way I treat reusable nappies. Like, for example, you wash it with all your other towels.”
Chances are, you’re now planning to go buy a few more washcloths. Here’s where to start:
Organic Muslin Facecloths
Aurelia Probiotic Skincare Monday to Sunday Bamboo Muslins
($32 for seven, Net-A-Porter)
Eve Lom Muslin Cloths
($29 for three, Sephora)
EcoTools Muslin Polishing Cloths
($8 for two, iHerb)