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What is a Face Towel?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 16, 2024
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Face towels are small towels used to dry the face after washing. For the most part, personal towels such as the rectangular face towels and hand towels are considered ideal for placement near a sink or basin. Not every face towel is intended for practical use, however. Often, decorative face towels are used as a decorating accent and should not be used to dry the face or the hands.

When placed in close proximity to a basin, the practical face towel is usually a simple design that makes use of absorbent fibers to create a thick yet soft material. It is not unusual for a face towel to be constructed with high-quality terrycloth. The choice of material is also something that wears well over time and can be machine-washed with ease.

As with other types of towels, the basic face towel comes in a wide range of colors and patterns. Considered the smallest of all towel sizes, a towel for drying the face is relatively lightweight and is small enough to easily be managed with one hand if necessary. In addition to drying the face after washing, men often make use of this type of towel during shaving at a basin.

It is important to note that decorative face and hand towels are commonly utilized as part of the décor for the bathroom. Usually, it is easy to determine if the towel is placed for appearance only and not for utility. If the towel includes design elements such as a section of silk across the body, elaborate embroidery, or some other decorative feature, there is a good chance that guests and family members should not use the towel to dry the face.

Mindful hosts and hostesses usually remove the confusion by arranging the decorative towel or towels on a towel rack or at least on some type of display frame. To further minimize any confusion, a face towel intended for use is placed on or near the basin of the sink, often folded into a simple trifold design. To further drive the point home, a washcloth is placed on top of the towel to provide guests with another clue as to which face towel is intended for use.

A basic face towel is relatively inexpensive and likely to hold up to several years of use. Decorative towels usually cost a little more, and with proper care can last for many years. People with a creative flair sometimes purchase good quality face towels at budget prices and add their own decorative elements in order to create a collection of towels that are utilized as decorating accents.

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Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum , Writer
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including HomeQuestionsAnswered, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.

Discussion Comments

By yumdelish — On Apr 21, 2011

If you want to remove cosmetics from your face try putting some foam cleanser on a microfiber face towel. They work much better and faster than the regular type. You can also get a hair wrap that is made from the same material.

For anyone watching the pennies here's another tip: look in the car section of the store for microfiber cleaning cloths. They can be used as face towels at a fraction of the cost!

By Acracadabra — On Apr 19, 2011

When I travelled in Asia I was surprised to see so many face towel sets in the shops. Later I found out that in the hot season people use them to absorb sweat from their faces.

I guess this would work just as well with any cotton towel, but the size of a face cloth is ideal for carrying around. I wish I'd bought one now, it would have been a great souvenir.

By MissMuffet — On Apr 17, 2011

My friend collects decorative face towels, especially those with cartoon characters on them. She displays them on a cork noticeboard. It's a pretty cool and unusual way of showing them off I think.

Malcolm Tatum

Malcolm Tatum


Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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