Onsen Towel Review | CNN underlined

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If you don’t like taking a shower, you’re wrong. Right at the crossroads of hygiene and self-care, showers are of course a must, but they’re also a great way to sneak in a few minutes of totally indulgent self-care on a daily basis. And in our opinion, the key to an enjoyable spa-level shower experience is to wrap yourself in a plush towel after the water is turned off.

Generally, my go-to towel is thick, fluffy, and explosively soft. My favorites include those from Parachute, Brooklinen, and Boll & Branch, but these plushies have their downsides. For one, they sometimes shed, leaving a trail of fibers on your still damp skin. Second, their density means they take a long time to dry – up to 12 hours – and depending on your bathroom ventilation, this can lead to a musty smell. yuck.

Enter the waffle knit towel. If terry plush had a younger, cooler cousin, it would definitely be this rising category of super-absorbent towels known for super-fast drying. And one of those waffle towels that’s making major waves is the Japanese-inspired brand Onsen.

Super absorbent and super fast drying

Although this bath towel from Onsen is maverick in its design, it is a game changer in its drying results. Oh, and the clean look will also make your bathroom the spa of your dreams.

Named after the thousands of hot springs in Japan and the bathing facilities and inns that surround them, Onsen towels are made from Oeko-Tex certified 100% American Supima cotton, which is both strong and soft. As founder Shane Monson says, “We believe a towel has two basic functions – to dry your body and to dry yourself.”

With over 3,000 positive reviews on the Onsen site—reviews rave about everything from “quick-drying” attributes to “almost weightless” towels—the towels intrigued me, so I gave them a try.


First and foremost, let’s talk about the obvious. If you’re a plush towel lover like me, you’re going to have mixed feelings about the Onsen towel right off the bat. It’s soft, don’t get me wrong, but not in the traditional way we’ve come to expect from most towels. However, this is exactly what sets Onsen apart. The lightweight, thin construction, combined with the tight, waffle-knit texture results in a towel that would be perfectly at home in a luxury Japanese spa.

Minimalist optics aside, the Onsen towel experience lives up to the hype. It is, in fact, a crazy absorbent. All at once on my body, the Onsen drains the water, leaving me completely dry. Also, I have a lot of super thick hair and I absolutely appreciate how much water the towel soaked up in just a few minutes. And although it was totally soaked after use, the towel was completely dry about four hours later. This is a big difference compared to the drying time of thicker terry towels.

About an inch longer and wider than most bath towels, the Onsen Towel’s slightly larger size makes it perfect for taller people. Want something even bigger? Opt for the extensive “leaves” offering, which, at 38 by 67 inches, is almost the size of a blanket. Plus, I’ve found the waffle knit pattern works as a gentle exfoliator – it’s kind of like the cloth version of a dry brush.


In the end, while you can upgrade your showerhead and your shampoos, your curtain and your body scrubs, nothing is going to elevate your shower game like an impeccably made towel. Although the Onsen one is unconventional in its design, it is a game-changer in its drying results. Oh, and the clean look will also make your bathroom the spa of your dreams.

Shop all of Onsen’s totally sustainable products, from hand and face towels to bath sheets and complete sets, here. (And we have good news – after selling out in less than a month, Onsen’s latest colorway, Ocher, is back in stock.)