I have tried both drugstore and department store cotton pads and both are quite comparable, depending on which brand you choose. Though I have never encountered a high end cotton pad that did not live up to its expectations (super soft and durable), you can find inexpensive ones that can give you the same exact results.
We chatted with Wendy Glancy of U.S. Cotton and she believes that since cotton pads are a product that we use nearly every day, consumers should buy them at affordable prices. "They do not have to be expensive to be luxurious and effective. You can find reasonably-priced cotton products that are quilted for strength and lint-free, as well as ultra-soft, exfoliating and hypoallergenic options of your favorite cotton products at most grocery stores and drugstores across the country," she says.
Some inexpensive cotton pads can fall apart, scratch your face, or leave trails of little fibers on your face and nails. When shopping for cotton pads, you want to look at their texture, absorbency level and whether or not they're made of organic cotton that's unbleached. When the cotton pad is too thin, it soaks up more liquid, which can lead to product waste. If possible, try to choose organic or unbleached products—you don't want any traces of nasty chemicals like chlorine or pestisides touching your delicate skin.
Swisspers Organic Organic Cotton Rounds: These cotton rounds are made with USDA certified organic cotton and pesticide-free They're resistant to shredding and are lint-free, so you won't end up picking off pieces from your skin and nails.
MUJI Natural Cotton Puff: MUJI's Natural Cotton Pad is made of 100% unbleached original cotton fibers to enhance its softness. At $2.50 for box of 140 pieces, you definitely get bang for your buck.
Johnsons & Johnson Pure Cotton Rounds, Non-Chlorine Bleached: These 100% cotton and non-chlorine bleached cotton pads are gentle for every day use for astringents, cleansing lotions, nail polish remover.
Mid-Price to Higher-End Recommendations
Shiseido The Makeup Facial Cotton: This exclusive facial cotton is 100% natural and uniquely manufactured for a consistent soft, smooth texture. These cotton pads feel amazing on the skin and we noticed we used less product on the cotton pad.
Clé de Peau Beauté Facial Cotton Pads: An ultra-luxurious pad made of pure cotton enveloped in natural silk that has an extra-soft, smooth texture. Increases the effectiveness of balancing lotions and moisturizers by promoting exfoliation to allow more product absorption into the skin.
Chanel Le Coton: These exquisitely soft tri-layer pad is made from delicate, handpicked Egyptian cotton, and its inner filling, comprised of lightly entwined, elastic Australian fibers. Complete luxury of a cotton pad that delivers gentleness and absorbency.