Who sung that famous line, “It Hurts So Good”? Bryan Adams? Google it and get back to me! Anyways, I’m here to ask and, hopefully, answer some questions that have been burning my mind, and probably yours, as of late:
Is pain good for you? Isn’t exfoliation just scratching the sh*t out of your skin? Should I actually exfoliate and what should I use?
There there, all is good: I have answers to these questions and more! Here’s some sh*t I found out (i.e. Googled) about exfoliation:
First, let’s get a little esoteric and hit the opening query for a moment. We may associate exfoliation with pain, and pain with … well, pain. That can’t be good, can it?
Pain is normally a sign from your brain that damage is being done. Pain bad.
However, the right amount of pain or discomfort, applied correctly, can have great benefit; a hot sauna, a deep tissue massage, for example, or your first yoga class. Pain good.
When it comes to exfoliation, what you don’t want are cheap scrubbing “salts” or other such things that are sold by the tubful on Amazon. Some of these can be like lathering shards of glass onto your skin, causing microabrasions on the skin.
Better to use a loofah-like tool, like an exfoliating washcloth, a mesh exfoliating sponge or … a loofah!
Many tools have their benefits and drawbacks, but the main goal is consistent exfoliation that doesn’t cause too much discomfort – which may be a sign you’re damaging your skin. The benefit of exfoliation comes from helping to clear away dead skin, avoiding clogged pores and preparing skin for your healthy natural moisture-restoring products.
Here’s a rundown of 5 choices to consider, their pros and their cons:
1) Natural Loofahs made from gourd of the genus luffa (I always thought that was a misspelling!) have been around since the dark ages, and have been used for many applications since the 1800’s, such as filtration. But their most popular pastime is spent scrubbing people’s bodies!
The cons: natural loofahs or luffas can be a bacteria cafeteria - "Loofahs are hygienic to start out with," Esther Angert, Ph.D., associate professor in the department of microbiology at Cornell University, tells The Huffington Post. "It's how they are maintained that will affect their longevity."
If you want to stay on the natural and plant-based side of the exfoliation fence, here’s Amazon’s Choice for best loofah exfoliating sponge:
2) Nylon Mesh Mild Exfoliating Shower Pouf with 5% Activated Charcoal Powder: A less inviting host for the bathroom creepy crawlies is the nylon shower pouf, shower ball or scrubby ball thingy. That’s the positive side, and these exfoliating mesh poufs have a longer life as a result. Some may find they prefer the skin feel, the kind of scrub they get from nylon bath sponges compared to a luffa.
The negatives, well, they’re not exactly natural or ecofriendly – they can be recycled (touché!) and make sure to do so – you don’t want those things unraveling in rivers, lakes and oceans, where they may cause some havoc. Here’s a good quality shower pouf to try if you’re so inclined:
A relatively new innovation of the traditional “soap sack” , the traditional hemp rope or cotton soap bags are getting a designer makeover, with modern exfoliating materials to get you feeling cleaner than clean. The Exfoliating Soap Pocket is made from high quality PE nylon, which is less encouraging to moisture-loving bathroom nasties compared to natural loofahs - and it is also recyclable. Use it with your favorite bar soap (or shower gel), or without if you want a bit of a harder scrub! Exfoliating will sweep away dead skin cells and reveal fresh new glowing skin. It also helps to prevent acne, even skin tone and boost circulation. If you apply skin care products after you shower, they will absorb into your skin better after exfoliating. Here’s a peek:
Last, but certainly not least, is the gentle, vegan, plant-based exfoliating tool that everyone loves, especially faces! These sponges are made from Konjac, sometimes called glucomannan, which is the fleshy tuber (root-like part of the stem that grows underground) of the konjac, or konyakku plant, also known as elephant yam in the West. It is a kind of soluble fiber that has been used in Asia for centuries, particularly in Japan where it is used both as a gentle cleansing sponge for babies, and made into healthy food products like shirataki (a gelatinous, chewy noodle-like food) where the high fiber content acts as a “broom for the stomach”
It’s important to soak your konjac sponge in (preferable lukewarm) water for 3-5 minutes the first you use it, to soften it up and get it ready for use. For subsequent uses, just run it under warm water for a few seconds before use. If you are using cleanser, squeeze a little onto the sponge and apply gently to you skin in small circular motions. It’s the perfect texture to gently exfoliate without damaging your skin! Here’s one we like:
Last, but certainly not least, is the re-imagination of the played out old washcloth. Some ingenious purveyors are raising the quality standards of these items, and adding features to boot!
Cue the dual-textured exfoliating washcloth! Made with a soft side and an exfoliating side, these shower tools can give you a little of everything you crave in the bath, soft terry-like kisses from one side, vigorous scrubbing from the other! Here’s what we mean:
So that's it folks, the bottom line is this: Exfoliation is a good thing, but don't take to the extreme masochistic realm - we're just drying to srub off what's dead and dirty to reveal something fresh and pure.
Tried any of these tools? Comment here to say which one is best!