Not only is it my favourite type of physical exfoliation, it’s the only type I like. My skin and physical exfoliation generally don’t go well together. It always leaves me with sensitive, dry and irritated skin. So I generally try to stick with chemical exfoliant, which I have written a little bit about chemical exfoliation here, but will be doing a more in-depth post soon. In the meantime, I will talk about physical exfoliation!
What is it?
Harvested from the konjac plant in Japan, konjac has been used as a medicine in the 6th century and as a food for the past 1500 years. The sponge is moulded from the plant and is made up of 97% water and 3% minerals. According to KUU Konjac Sponges, the minerals are “water, protein, carbohydrate, lipids, sodium, potassium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, copper, zinc, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin D, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin C, pantothenate, niacin, fatty acids, folic acid and dietary fibre with a total of 16 amino acids”. However, the minerals would probably be more beneficial from actually eating the plant and may not have any benefit when used on your face.
It’s very hard and rigid at first, but then becomes very gentle and soft when water is added to it. According to Nathan from Paula’s Choice, it’s not harmful for your face at all. A common misconception is that it’s alkaline and therefore bad for your skin. Fortunately this is not the case for the sponge itself, only the plant. So it won’t change the pH for your skin because there is no pH to it (as tested by Nathan Rivas from Paula’s Choice)!
What are the benefits?
It help to remove excess dirt, oil, makeup and sunscreen you have on your face while cleansing. I personally find it much softer than a wash cloth or any other physical exfoliation products I have tried. I always wake up with such soft skin after using it at night.
Why do I like it more than other types of physical exfoliation?
I don’t hate all physical exfoliation, I just think that it’s often done wrong and in a harmful way to the skin. Usually they only deal with the top layer of the skin and don’t penetrate to deeper layers like BHA and AHA exfoliants do and often have harsh and uneven textures that can cause microscopic tears to the skin (such as anything with micro-beads). While the konjac sponge only deals with the top layer of the skin, it is completely safe and is a perfect example of a gentle physical exfoliator.
I also like this because it doesn’t contain any harmful ingredients, it doesn’t even have a pH! Unlike a scrub, there is no potential for harm from irritating or comedogenic ingredients.
Bonus: It’s biodegradable so it’s fantastic for the environment!
How do I use it?
You can use it on it’s own or with a cleanser. First, soak it in warm water until it becomes soft and slightly increases in size. Then, gently massage it on the face in upwards and outwards motions. Gently rinse and squeeze out the water when finished and hang in a place away from the shower. Generally they last around 3 months before needing replacing. However, if you start to see mould on it then it should be thrown out immediately.
Where can I buy it?
This particular sponge is from a brand called KUU Konjac Sponges which are widely available in Australia. It’s an Australian company based on Jeju island (same as Innisfree!) in Korea and are 100% handmade. But there are also other fantastic brands which are available, such as the Konjac Sponge Company. A quick google search will bring you up with more products in your area.