Some of the oldest civilisations have several tricks and simple solutions to problems we face daily. One such problem is taking good care of our skin and enhancing our beauty. And the Japanese have had a great solution that can significantly improve your skin – cleansing with konjac sponge.
Konjac sponge is made from fibres obtained from the konjac plant. It is made from 100% natural components, and is biodegradable. Konjac plant is native to the Japan, China and some South East Asian countries, and the ancient civilisations in those regions seem to have known about the benefits of konjac since ancient times. For about two millennia, the konjac plant derived substances have been used for detoxification, alleviating blood stasis, tumour-suppression and treating skin disorders. Konjac contains vitamins A, B, C, D and E, lipids, proteins, fatty acids, iron, zinc and magnesium. While how many of the nutrients are actually absorbed by the skin is up for debate, the benefits observed by actually using konjac sponge for cleansing are hard to deny.
Konjac sponge is rough and hard when dry, but when soaked in water, as it is supposed to before use, it becomes very soft and pliable. It can absorb quite a bit of water, after which it expands in size as well. It is softer than loofah but has more texture than a kitchen sponge. Its surface adsorbs water and forms a layer on its surface, giving it a very slick feel in the hand. It is much gentler than other exfoliators, but much more effective than the washcloths typically used in America. Some who are used to washcloths may feel it weird to use a sponge of any sorts for skin, as it is generally associated with dishwashing. But a few uses of konjac will reveal to anyone how gentle it is on the skin and most wouldn’t mind getting over their uneasiness over using a sponge for cleansing skin.
Konjac sponge is quite an effective cleanser. It is also a gentle exfoliator. Due to its texture, it can remove away the dead skin layer from the top. Still, due to its soft and slick nature, it is still gentle on the skin. It is more effective than a washcloth at exfoliating, but still not as harsh as some abrasives like pumice. It will remove any oil, dirt or light makeup. However, if you have applied heavy makeup, specifically eye makeup, then it is recommended that you use a makeup remover before a konjac sponge. It can be used to cleanse both face and body. Many stores sell larger sized sponges appropriate for cleaning the whole body. You can also find extra soft baby bath konjac sponges in the market. It is great for babies as well since it is quite gentle on the skin.
Nowadays many different kinds of konjac sponges available in the market. The white ones are just the simple konjac sponge. Some sponges have added activated charcoal, giving them a black colour. Activated charcoal is effective at removing many pollutants by adsorption. Many manufacturers also add French green and red clay in the konjac sponge. These clays are great at absorbing oils and other impurities, thus detoxifying the skin. Hence, these sponges are quite effective for those with sensitive, dry or mature skin. It is also beneficial for those prone to sweating and acne.
For maximum effectiveness, it is necessary to use the konjac sponge appropriately. When dry, the konjac sponge is hard, and hence it is too abrasive to be used directly. It will damage the sponge, and more importantly, it may also damage the skin. Hence, before use it has to be soaked in warm water. You will need to soak it for 5 minutes before first use, but from then onwards you can soak it for about a minutes or two before each subsequent use. After soaking it in water, it will absorb quite a bit of water and become puffy and soft. Gently squeeze out excess water, and then use the sponge to massage your skin in a circular way. It will remove the dirt and gently exfoliate your skin. Use of a cleansing agent is optional. You may choose to use your favourite facewash, but the sponge on itself also does a great job at cleansing. You can use the sponge to cleanse your skin daily, or if your skin starts feeling too raw, you can cut down the frequency to alternate days. Do not use on cuts, wounds or irritated skin. After cleansing, rinse with water.
The konjac sponge is much more gentle on the skin than a traditional cleanser, but it also means that it has a delicate structure. Hence you need to take greater to prevent deterioration of the sponge. One disadvantage of the konjac sponge, especially against plastic cleansers, is durability. It has a limited life, after which you need to replace it. In order to preserve it for as long as possible, you need to store it in a dry and airy place. After each use, it must be rinsed with water and any excess water must be gently squeezed out, before leaving it out to dry. Since it is made of organic materials, you can disinfect it once in two weeks by placing it in very hot, but not boiling, water for about five minutes. Though beware that leaving it in for too long will cause it to degrade quickly. If it does not expand much on absorbing water, or it starts falling apart, then it is a sign that you need to dispose of it and get a new one. Since it is 100% biodegradable, you can even dispose of it in the compost. You can also leave it buried in a garden pot, since it will retain moisture for quite some time and actually be helpful to the potted plant. Availability of the konjac sponge is today better than ever. Many retailers sell the konjac sponge via online stores to customers all around the world.