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Cotton pads are pads made of cotton which are used for medical or cosmetic purposes. For medical purposes, cotton pads are used to stop or prevent bleeding from minor punctures such as injections or venipuncture. They may be secured in place with tape. Cotton pads are also used in the application and the removal of makeup. Cotton pads are soft enough that they can be used to clean babies. Cotton pads also come in the form of cotton balls, which basically serve the same purpose, in a different shape.
Cotton balls have been used for applying gold leaf since at least as far back as 1801. An artists' manual from that year recommends using a "squirrel's tail, or cotton ball" to press the gold leaf into place.
Cotton pads were first invented around the early 1970s. The first patents for the invention date from 1973, claimed as a new invention for face and nail cleaning and a substitute for cotton swabs. The standard pad was round and 2 1/4 inches (57mm) in diameter. It became widely used, and by the mid-1980s, its sales had exceeded those of cotton swab in Europe. In the 1990s, new variants in the standard pad emerged as the number of suppliers rapidly increased due to demand. Cotton pads and cotton balls are used with nail polish remover for that purpose.
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