T&C Tried and True: The $4 Cloths That Keep My Skin Baby-Smooth

·3 min read
Photo credit: Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Hearst Owned

Here at T&C, we pride ourselves on our discerning eye for quality. With Tried & True, our editors will give you an inside look at the pieces they simply cannot live without.


There's an age-old adage (well, age-old in the beauty world, at least) that your face starts at your hairline and ends at your nipples; essentially that, for the best looking skin possible, you need to attend to significantly more acreage than the front of your head. And while it's a sentiment that still holds true—just look at the rise in concern over tech neck and cleavage wrinkles in recent years—considering the myriad ways that we show off our epidermis nowadays, I'd say that taking things to the chest isn't nearly far enough.

In fact, it's hard to imagine anyone who, given the choice, wouldn't prefer to have silky, glowing, baby-smooth skin from head to toe. Certainly I would, which is why I've become somewhat obsessed with (not to mention an evangelist over) the simplest, cheapest, and possibly most bizarre product in my extensive beauty arsenal: the Korean Italy Towel.

Known variously as Italy towels, Korean Italy cloths, and Korean exfoliating mitts, they've been a go-to in Korean spas for years. They're typically comprised of a single piece of viscose rayon (the material was originally manufactured in Italy, lending them their slightly befuddling multinational name) sewn along the sides to form a rudimentary mitt, although some versions are available as a single sheet of fabric or a more tailored hand shape.

Though they may feel soft straight from the package, once wet they pack an almost shocking amount of exfoliating power that's guaranteed to tackle all of your driest, flakiest, bumpiest bits and leave you luxuriously smooth. I'm talking "lounging on a settee in a flowing satin gown while being fed peeled grapes" luxurious; full Roman-imperial decadence levels of smooth.

Using one is incredibly simple too, albeit slightly counterintuitive for many of us. Here's a breakdown:

  1. You want your skin to be softened up before you apply the cloth, so plan on breaking one out at the end of a steamy shower or after a nice long soak in the bath.

  2. Get out of the water. You don't need to be towel-dry, but friction is an important part of getting the maximum impact from the cloths, so you won't want water covering your body the whole time.

  3. Wet the cloth (don't use soap—again, we're going for friction, here), wring it out, then scrub your arms, legs, and everywhere else you'd like to exfoliate in a brisk back-and-forth motion. After a few swipes, you'll begin to see small grey rolls (think: eraser crumbs) form on the surface of your skin as the dead skin pills up like a cheap cashmere sweater. Yes, it will feel a little intense—it's worth it.

  4. Once you've thoroughly scrubbed down, rinse away all of that dead skin, slather yourself in your favorite body moisturizer, and try to resist the urge to make everybody rub you to feel how soft you are.

  5. Best of all, once you've used one, just throw it in with the rest of your laundry and start the whole cycle over again. They're almost infinitely reusable (seriously, I bought a four-pack three years ago and I still haven't had to spring for more.)

Of course, like all forms of exfoliation, you don't want to overdo it and potentially compromise your skin barrier, so you'll want to limit your scrubbing sessions to once a week, and only use them on the tougher skin of your body, not your delicate facial area.

Nonetheless, whether you're prepping for a flawless fake tan, or looking to give your complexion an enviable satin-finish, the Korean Italy towel is unequivocally the way to go. And with a price tag under the $5, they're one way to treat yourself that's not a splurge at all.

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