Scrubbing up well: Flannel on the verge of extinction as women swap face cloths for wipes
09:11 GMT, 23 April 2012
It was once a beauty essential but now it seems the humble flannel is on the verge of extinction.
Sales have been dropping on average six per cent a year, with 2011 being the toughest year yet for the face cloth.
Fifty years go more than six million flannels were sold annually nationwide.
Just 50 years ago, no household in Britain would have been without a flannel hanging by the bathroom sink
However, sales first started to dip
in the early 1960s, as households began the switch from sooty open coal
fires to cleaner gas-fired central heating.
Demand dropped still further in the
1970 and 1980s, as showers became more popular than baths, and soap was
gradually replaced by hand wash and shower gel.
The growing popularity of time saving face wipes has depressed the market for flannels still further.
Now department store Debenhams has announced plans to restore the flannel to its former glory – by reminding the nation of the 'astounding' yet cost-effective beauty benefits that this modest cloth offers.
Caroline Hirons, beauty industry expert and blogger who is supporting the campaign, said: 'I have always used flannels in my facials and recommend them to my readers every week in my online clinic.
'They are far more effective in removing makeup, dirt and grime than a muslin cloth due to their weight, size and most importantly, their ability to retain heat for longer.
Flannel fans: Marilyn Monroe, left, and Elizabeth Taylor used face cloths
'Flannels are more affordable and therefore – more hygienic – I recommend using a fresh one every day.'
She said flannels exfoliate the skin naturally with every wash, cleaning thoroughly and bringing a healthy, natural colour to the complexion.
Debenhams spokeswoman Michelle Dowdall said: 'We believe that the flannel is one of the beauty world's forgotten secrets.
'Using a flannel was good enough for beautiful women from the 1950s and 1960s such as Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe and Ingrid Bergman, so I'm sure we can still learn something from their cleansing techniques today.'
She said just 50 years ago, no household in Britain would have been without a flannel hanging by the bathroom sink.
Ms Dowdall said: 'It was a sign of how highly cleanliness was regarded in the home.'
'Everyone has forgotten how cleaning your skin with a flannel every day is one of the best ways to remove excess oils and dead, dull skin.
'The humble flannel should be an essential part of everyday beauty therapy.
'It has a strong track record proving that using it is just as much a key to looking good as using a hairbrush, lipstick or mascara.'