Exfoliating? Is it worth the fuss?
How to save your skin and the planet by exfoliating!
Why exfoliate? Well facial exfoliation can help remove old, dull skin and allow healthy new skin to come to the surface when done correctly. Exfoliation can also help prevent the build-up of oil and dirt and is particularly beneficial for oily or blemish-prone skin. Additionally, removing dead skin cells can help your other skincare products penetrate deeper, improving their effects and even improve the appearance of your foundation.
But look out, harsh formulas can leave your skin looking and feeling sore.
There are two types of exfoliation: physical and chemical. Physical exfoliation has got a bad reputation in the beauty industry and typically conjures up images of grainy scrubs and harsh brushes that leave your skin red and raw. Physical exfoliators can also include formulas containing microbeads which are hugely damaging for the environment. These beads float and so are not removed from water treatment plants before entering our streams, rivers, lakes and seas. They can absorb chemicals and carry dangerous pollutants around our water systems before being ingested by aquatic animals and entering our food chain. Not only are they bad for the planet, they are also drying and irritating on your facial skin!
Chemical exfoliators have recently taken central stage with them being seen as the modern and gentler alternative. However, is it really time to fully abandon physical exfoliators? I would say no. In fact, physical and chemical exfoliators can actually be used in combination, and if done correctly, complement each other well. However, it is time to put down those harsh, abrasive and environmentally damaging exfoliators and try something new; the konjac sponge!
The konjac facial sponge is affordable, gentle and environmentally friendly. It is made from konjac, an Asian root vegetable, and gently cleanses the skin as an alternative to harsh scrubs and brushes. Traditionally, these sponges were used by Japanese farmers to cleanse a baby’s skin. This makes them safe on all skin types, even sensitive skin! They are also popular in Korea and have been used for over 1500 years. When incorporated into skincare routines they cleanse your skin and exfoliate, as well as helping remove any last traces of make-up. As a vegetable, they also contain minerals and are rich in amino acid and vitamin A, E, D, B1, B2, B6, B12 and C, all of which collectively help nourish and smoothen your skin.
Not only are they good for the skin, they are sustainable and vegan friendly. As they are 100% plant based and plastic free they can be thrown away in the compost or food waste bin after use. Whilst you can reuse your konjac sponge, it is recommended you replace them every 2-3 months because bacteria can build up in the sponge, and you don’t want to end up smearing that around your face! However, they are much more hygienic than loofahs or washcloths because they dry quickly after use, reducing the growth of germs.
For first time use, soaking the konjac sponge in warm water for 10-15 minutes allows it to fully expand. After soaking, gently squeeze to remove excess water. You can use the sponge to cleanse your face with or without face wash. To cleanse you gently press the sponge into your skin and massage in circular motions on your face, without pressing too hard. Applying exfoliator in a circular motion can help improve blood circulation to your face. When applying, avoid your eye area. Once used, squeeze out all the excess water to avoid bacteria growing and leave it to dry in a well ventilated room. You can also boil the sponge to help sanitise it once a week.
Ultimately, the aim with exfoliating should not be to scrub your face red and raw and the konjac sponge is a gentle alternative to the harsh and abrasive scrubs of the past. I hope you try the sponge out and love it as much as I do!