Sustainability is something that Skinsheet founder Mary Frances Knight considers in every part of her life, including her beauty routine. For years, cotton rounds—which are notably single-use and virtually indestructible in landfills—were part of her daily routine, but she liked them more in theory than in practice because of their environmental impact. So she set out to reinvent the product, creating an eco-friendly option that also enhanced her routine.
“I wanted a sustainable alternative to cotton pads that was not one of those reusable rounds,” says Knight. “I wanted something that was going to be bigger and better than a cotton pad, something I could use to apply products, and something that was going to maybe offer even better penetration when I used it with toner. And, of course, there’s the more sustainable part, but I really wanted a tool for my routine that wasn’t a device, something that could work for anyone’s routine and make it better.”
She finally landed on The Skinsheet. It’s a single-use cellulose sheet made out of 100 percent cotton waste. It’s biodegradable and can be disposed of either in the trash or your compost. Because it’s certified for industrial compost, home compost, soil biodegradability, and marine biodegradability, it will break down anywhere.
“Because I wanted to innovate the cotton round, it had to be sustainable,” says Knight. “I thought a reusable material was going to be my only option and I tested a bunch and I talked to a lot of people and I did a lot of research. But it’s really hard to get them clean and they’re not necessarily more sustainable. Going back to the New York Times article about the reusable grocery bag—it would take like 20,000 uses [for a tote] to make up for its footprint. I just didn’t enjoy using [reusable rounds] and I felt like they were even more limited in function than cotton rounds.”
Knight developed two Skinsheet products: The Cleansing Coins ($20) and The Multiuse Facial Sheets ($24).
Do you remember those little capsules that you’d stick in water and then all of the sudden a washcloth would appear? That’s what The Cleansing Coins are like. Add water and they balloon into a big sheet that you can use to gently cleanse your skin.
“These we did in sort of a woven texture just to help pick up dirt and it gives you a gentle exfoliation,” says Knight. “You use these just like you would use a washcloth. So lathering cleanser, removing cleanser, especially cleansing balms. Once you use these with a cleansing balm, you’ll never go back. I use them all the time for removing masks or for heavy makeup.”
The Multiuse Facial Sheets can be used to press products into your skin.
“Whereas a cotton pad only retains water on the inside of its fibers, this will hold it on the inside and outside,” says Knight, “which means it’s going to be more absorbent, so it’s going to hold more in the first place. And when you apply pressure, it releases really easily into your skin.”
She uses them to apply her toners and serums.
“I love really thin serums, but I feel like they just sort of sit on your skin when you apply them,” says Knight. “When I use one of these products with a Facial Sheet, I can pat it in and it doesn’t just sit there. You can feel it in your skin and you’ll notice there’s hardly anything left on the sheet.”
In addition to being bigger than traditional cotton pads, because of the way Skinsheets are spun, they’re stronger—so you don’t need to worry about them falling apart or, “if you’ve got a bit of stubble on your face, you don’t have to worry about them getting caught on the hair and tearing or leaving behind little fibers,” says Knight.
What it’s like using The Skinsheet
I’ve used my skin sheets to remove makeup, press aloe vera juice into my skin, and wipe off a creamy cleanser. I love the way they feel on my skin and how effectively they work. Additionally, I love that they’re single-use. I hardly ever use washcloths because I know you should be washing them after two days of use for optional cleanliness, and that’s not doable for me. Having these single-use items that I can just throw in my compost bin is the best of both worlds.
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