A while back, a friend of mine gifted me a subscription box containing natural skincare products from different countries around the world. The one I received was from Hawaii and had products that I had never seen before. One of these items was a konjac sponge (made from konjac root).
So, what exactly is konjac root? Well, what may seem like a new and exciting product has actually been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years. The konjac plant is native to the subtropical climate of Southeast Asia and was traditionally used to treat ailments such as asthma, cough, burns, and skin disorders. Fast forward to the last few decades, and konjac fiber (also known as glucomannan powder) has been introduced to Europe and the United States as a dietary supplement. Marketed mostly for weight loss, there is even a brand-name supplement called Lipozene with glucomannan as its primary ingredient. While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend konjac root to slim your waistline, it can be great to use topically to improve your skin.
I started incorporating the konjac sponge into my daily routine. The claims on the packaging are pretty lengthy. Cleansing, exfoliating, detoxing–the list continues. I was expecting wonders from this little sponge but found some of these claims to be a bit of a stretch. For me, it did not instantly detox my skin or clear any acne, but that’s not to say though that using it was a total loss. Because of the plant’s high fiber content and natural ability to hold water, it does not actually come it direct contact with your skin, making an effective but gentle exfoliator. After about a week of using the sponge, I noticed that my skin felt softer and acne scars were slightly less pronounced. The chemists over at BASF have actually been using konjac glucomannan (KGM) to formulate their Ultra Filling Spheres, a product used to minimize wrinkles and fine lines.
You can use these sponges with your favorite cleanser or just plain water. The fact that you can use it by itself means it’s very convenient for traveling–just throw it in your cosmetics case and leave your exfoliating scrub at home. As with any sponge, it will eventually collect bacteria and dead skin cells, so you will want to replace it after a month. What’s great about them is that they are compostable, so all you eco beauty junkies can rest easy. Another fun thing you can do when they’ve outlived their life in your beauty cabinet is to bury them in your flower pot where they’ll provide natural moisture storage for your plants.
All konjac sponges, however, are not created equal. Different brands have added components to their formulation to tailor each sponge to a certain skin type. Here is a quick guide to infused konjac sponges and their various benefits.
1. Charcoal – Activated charcoal has long been used to detoxify and recently has been introduced into more and more beauty products. People with acne prone skin might benefit from a sponge with added charcoal to help draw out dead skin cells and impurities.
2. Green Tea – For centuries, China has been using green tea to treat all types of ailments from headaches to depression. Many people know of its many benefits when taken internally, but may not be as familiar with its topical beauty applications. The antioxidants and tannins present in green tea can help to fight the signs of aging such as fine lines, age spots, and sun damage.
3. Citrus Oils – You may be familiar with the vitamin C content of citrus, which happens to be an essential component for collagen formation. This gives it soothing and healing properties for the skin. Citrus oils can also brighten your skin by both hydrating and acting as a toner to help even out any dark spots.
4. Pink Clay – People with sensitive or dry skin might want to look for a sponge formulated with pink clay. It will do a good job of thoroughly cleansing the skin and also leave it smooth and silky thanks to its high silica content. Its soothing properties will also help combat any redness or irritation.
So as you can see, there is something out there for everyone, and with a little searching, you can the right konjac sponge for your skin concerns. All beauty products are not the same, and there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to skincare. We are all unique and beautiful, so it is important to listen to what our body needs. Go out there and experiment with the konjac sponge that’s right for you. It is an inexpensive, 100% natural, eco-friendly product you can incorporate into your beauty routine today.
Are you a konjac sponge convert? What’s your favorite way to exfoliate?
Also by Kathryn: How To Win At Vintage Shopping (When You’re Like, Over 22)
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