This totally natural sponge has been around for a really long time, is praised for its healing properties and will work wonders on your skin. Do you need more convincing?
If your familiarity with sponges only extends as far as the kitchen sink and an animated one that lives in a pineapple, it’s time to up your sponge game. There’s a new (but actually pretty ancient) player in town that goes by the name konjac, and it’s not really a sponge at all.
Sure, konjac sponges look like they could be used to scrub dinner leftovers off a plate, but they’re made from the root of the konjac plant, a perennial plant native to Asia that grows at very high altitudes, is high in minerals and is naturally alkaline. That’s right: your new soon-to-be-favorite skincare tool is actually edible (just take my word for it, k?).
What does this all mean for your skin? Glad you asked.
First and foremost, the fact that the root is naturally alkaline means it has a neutral pH and won’t mess with the balance of your skin. Second, the plant from which this sponge comes has been used in Korean, Japanese and Chinese medicine for centuries, so you know it’s legit. And third, these tiny wonders are made up of antioxidant- and mineral-rich natural vegetable fibers, which equals an earth- and skin-friendly product that also happens to be the perfect exfoliator/detoxifier.
To recap: this totally natural sponge has been around for a really long time, is praised for its healing properties and will work wonders on your skin. Do you need more convincing?
How to use it:
No complicated instructions here. Simply take the hard, dry sponge and run it under warm water until it’s totally soaked and soft. After you’re done marveling at how it’s puffed up and grown in size, just massage the flat side of the sponge against your skin in a circular motion until you start to glow. (Just kidding, the glow comes a little later.)
Feel free to add a bit of your normal cleanser to the sponge if you’re looking for a deeper clean, or just rock it naked. For nighttime use, you’ll definitely want to use an oil cleanser or facial balm to remove any makeup before getting your konjac on; while the sponge is an amazing cleansing tool, it works way better when it doesn’t have to fight through a layer of makeup first. Plus, you’ll just be moving the makeup around your face with the sponge if you don’t take it off first.
And don’t worry about overuse: the natural plant fibers of konjac are strong enough to effectively exfoliate, but gentle enough that anyone with any type of skin can use it. (If you have very sensitive skin, see how you react after consecutive uses and go from there.)
How to take care of it:
Though the konjac sponge requires a bit more love and care than your average washcloth, it’s worth it. Just like pretty much everything else in life, treating this little beauty well means it’ll keep longer — good news for your skin.
The key to properly taking care of a konjac sponge is to make sure it’s completely clean after use, and to let it hang dry in a non-wet environment. So once you’re done cleansing, rinse the sucker out over and over and over again. Run it under water and gently squeeze. Then do it again. And again. And again until the liquid runs totally clear. Next, use the handy string the sponge comes attached to and hang it. If you leave it laying flat, any water that’s left over will seep out and form a puddle, meaning your sponge that’s supposed to be drying is actually just sitting in a pool of its own fluid (blerg).
And remember that not all hanging spots are created equal: try to keep the sponge in a dry place aka not your shower. Any steam or moisture in the air will find its way into the sponge and set up shop, creating a perfect home for mold, mildew and bacteria, none of which you want growing on the thing you’ll be using to clean your face. If properly taken care of, a konjac sponge can last for about a month, so make sure to swap in a fresh one at that point.
How to choose a konjac sponge:
Like acai bowl toppings options at a yoga retreat, so too are the variety of konjac sponges. While they’re all made from konjac root, there are a variety of “mix ins” that cater to specific skin issues or concerns.
Oily, acne-prone skin? Look for a konjac sponge that contains charcoal. It’ll deep-clean pores and help draw out impurities. It’s also a natural antioxidant, which means it kills the acne-causing bacteria hiding on your face.
For irritated skin, calming ingredients like chamomile and green tea are your best bet. Said to have anti-allergic properties, chamomile will work wonders on angry, dry skin as it soothes and softens. Both chamomile and green tea are packed with antioxidants as well, so skin will be plump and springy, just like a…sponge.
If that whole oily-T-zone, dry-everything-else situation is what you’re dealing with, green clay is a good idea. Another impurity drawer-outer, green clay sucks toxins right up, and leaves tightened pores and smooth skin in its wake.
Dry- or sensitive-skinned users should favor red clay, a regenerative powerhouse that can help improve circulation, which in turn equals supple, rosy, glow-y skin. It also works on pesky wrinkles and fine lines by removing dead skin cells. Pink clay is also a good pick for anyone with super-sensitive skin. It’s incredibly gentle, and the combination of red and white clay is particularly calming.
And if you’ve got no skin ailments to complain of and are just looking for a freakin’ fantastic way to cleanse your face, reach for a sponge with nothing in it except the pure, wholesome, natural goodness of konjac.