When you think about some of the greatest inventions in life, they’re often created out of pure annoyance, irritation, or “OMG, why doesn’t this thing exist?!?”. Which is what happened with Take My Face Off’s Founder Amanda McIntosh one evening when she was heading home after a long day of work, that in order for her to maintain her new skincare regime, she’d have to use a washcloth on her face to take her makeup off and quite frankly, she was starting to hate for various reasons. That’s when she realized she wanted to put her spin on a type of face washcloth that was gentle on the face and would ultimately end up being humane on the environment. So, in honor of Earth Day (April 22nd), we sat down with one of the pioneers in the beauty industry as she explains how she created the ever-popular Mitty, how her brand is helping to prevent waste and pollution in the world, and what’s next for her.
Your career is so varied and it seems that often great ideas are born out of frustrated moments. What was that moment like when you realized that you wanted to create a gentle, facial cleansing cloth that’s reusable and good for the environment?
I didn’t even think of the environmental side at first. I was exhausted, driving home from a late concert, feeling annoyed. See, my skin was loving my new cleansing routine, but it involved washcloths. I hated the washcloths I owned, but I couldn’t find anything better, so I kept putting off buying more. The moment of inspiration was one of those clichéd lightning bolts—it woke me right up! I got so excited by all the possibility for creativity. I mean, washcloths are coarse, ugly, and clumsy—so much room for improvement!
I loved the thought of reinventing a household staple, but I didn’t get emotional about it until I realized the environmental aspect. Cotton production is extremely hard on our planet, and wipes are a bona fide catastrophe. I had a new mission—I was going to spark a backlash against disposables like cotton balls and wipes. It’s a win-win—my products are better for the skin, they’re pretty, and they have the potential to massively benefit the planet.
Later, I realized that it had been a while since my music career had felt very creative. I’m a classical clarinetist, and playing in orchestras can be exhilarating, but there were other sides of my brain that had been dormant for too long.
The Mitty is such a genius idea and has become super popular. Did you have any idea there would be such enthusiasm for this type of product?
You are kind. Obviously, I think my idea is the bomb, but I was split: part of me thought it would take over the world, while the other part of me wondered if I wasn’t ten years too early. It’s not like people are in the streets, clamoring for a better washcloth or shouting, “down with cotton balls!”
Talking to people about Mittys is the best part of my job. I love the “a-ha” moment when people really get it. Sometimes their brains get going and they start coming up with reasons to love Mittys that hadn’t even occurred to me.
With so much waste involved with cotton pads and facial wipes, what were some of the challenges you faced in getting the exact type of material that you wanted to use and the shape of the Mitty?
It was hard. I spent A LOT of time and money testing fabrics (and a lot of time searching through sketchy fabric warehouses in the fashion district of LA, which is next to Skid Row). It turned out that the longest-lasting, best-performing fabric was smooth on the back—it didn’t want to stay with your hand while you moved it around your face! I realized it had to be a mitt that was moveable, but traditional mitts seemed so ugly to me.
I finally had the brainwave about the cute droplet shape and my pointy Mitty Detailer tool. That was another wonderful eureka moment, since the droplet could also represent resource conservation! But I couldn’t get a manufacturer to make it look right—manufacturers and pattern makers insisted it couldn’t be done with my slippery fabric. I knew they were wrong, but I had to learn industrial sewing, buy two different industrial overlock machines, learn industrial pattern design, and win multiple debates with factory managers and machinists (in Spanish!) before I got what I wanted.
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve heard of how someone’s used The Mitty?
Motorcycle detailing. And I love that lots of people use it on sensitive doggy ears. I can’t wait to market a Mitty for Pets someday—we’ve already applied for the patent!
What can we expect next from you?
I’m dying to tell the world about my next product, but it’s top-secret until we finish the launch plan.
We have a big array of personal care and makeup touch-up tools in prototype stage that are simple but innovative—things that you didn’t know you needed until you saw them, but then you wonder how you ever lived without them. Most have an environmental aspect. All of them are pretty, and all of them are elegantly simple.