Editor’s note: This towel is currently sold out, but we’ll keep an eye out and update this post when it’s back in stock.
In both the kitchen and the bathroom, I hesitate before drying my hands on someone else’s towel. It’s not that my friends don’t wash their linens — it’s that I’m paranoid about mildew. As you can imagine, this pathology makes it difficult for me to trust any absorbent material. And yet, despite my fear, I romanticize a thick, fluffy towel — the precise type that holds onto a ton of water, takes forever to dry, and is compositionally suited to becoming a breeding ground for undesirable bacteria.
My apartment has a tiny bathroom that steams up incredibly quickly (the fan is ceremonial more than it is effective). I also like to shower twice a day, which means I need something that will be ready to use again in under eight hours. The monogrammed “classic bath towels” my mom gifted me refused to dry in the humid climate, so I resigned myself to super-thin, rapid-dry, and microfiber options. For a while, I liked this one from Tesalate because it weighs almost nothing and comes in so many cute prints. But I found I was still craving the plushness of a hotel towel, which is much better suited to my habit of lounging around post-shower until my hair is almost completely dry. While rapid-dry options live up to their hyperefficient promise, they don’t meet my criteria for a luxurious shower experience.
Getting served an Instagram ad and making an impulse purchase is the opposite of a meet-cute, but that’s how I came to own this Bathing Culture cosmic-rainbow towel. At $75, I fully expected to have buyer’s remorse, so I justified the purchase by giving it to my boyfriend, but I’ve been hogging it since realizing that a towel I purchased entirely for its appearance ended up being the answer to my mildew woes.
The key is in the stitch pattern. If you look closely, you can see gaps between patches of towel because every other square is left blank. The terry loops that are usually densely packed on a normal towel are staggered so that you don’t notice the empty squares due to the inverse checkerboard pattern on the other side. It’s basically an illusion — this towel simulates thickness, but dries quickly enough for me to take my customary two showers a day because water is only being absorbed into half as much fabric.
Appearance-wise, this is definitely a maximalist piece. Whether you go for the cosmic-rainbow colorway or the organic version (back in stock at the end of March), the shock of color is a statement. The array of hues is a product of the upcycling process — it’s composed of deadstock cotton left over from productions that overestimated their material needs. It’s also fringed, so if you have a monochromatic or minimalist aesthetic, this may be a little loud for your taste.
I loved that there was no break-in period — it was soft right away and shed very little (after a few washes it stopped shedding altogether). The dryer in my building is very mediocre, so I was happy to see that not only does this towel air-dry in my steamy bathroom well, it was completely dry after one cycle. I can’t say enough good things about its unique fabric distribution that makes it deceptively lightweight and unexpectedly luxurious. So if you have an irrational fear of mildew (and hotel-plush aspirations) like I do, this cosmic-rainbow towel could be the answer to your terrycloth prayers.
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