Loofah

Introduction

There are several showering supplies and accessories one can use to cleanse the face and body, from poufs and wash cloths to exfoliating gloves and scrubbers.

There are also loofahs, which are very effective in getting the dirt and grime off the skin, leaving one feeling clean and fresh.

Continue reading to learn more about loofahs!

What is a loofah?

A loofah is a sponge that is used to help scrub and exfoliate the skin and is either made of inorganic or organic material. They can be used for showers or facials and face treatments.

What is the difference between a luffa and a loofah?

They are an interchangeable term– loofahs are sometimes written as luffas. Loofahs are actually made from luffas.

On the other hand, luffas, botanically named Luffa aegyptiaca, are a vine-grown vegetable in the pumpkin, gourd and squash family known as Cucurbitaceae.

How are loofahs made?

Luffas are not a typical garden vegetable; it is usually grown in tropical and subtropical climates. This is because it requires plenty of sunshine and hot temperatures to develop. Other things necessary, of course, are well drained soil and adequate watering.

The plant can grow vines up to 30 feet long. Between summer and autumn, bright yellow flowers bloom to attract pollinators. Afterwards, the flowers develop into giant gourd-like vegetables that resemble cucumbers or zucchinis.

As these vegetables mature, they start to lose color and water and its outer shell hardens and separates itself from its interior fibers. Once it is ripe enough for harvesting, growers break off the shell, revealing a spongy fiber within, which is then extracted from the plant.

Before the spongy fiber can be used, it is first washed and squeezed to remove excess water. Then it is left out to dry under the sun. Once it fully dries, it can then be cut or shaped to become the loofahs we know for exfoliating and scrubbing.

What are the uses and benefits of loofahs?

These scrubbers can be used in the following ways:

  • Combined or lathered with soap on the skin to ensure great exfoliation (i.e. remove dead skin cells, dirt and other impurities) and help get soft skin,
  • Stimulate blood circulation whilst bathing through mild massaging,
  • Clean household surfaces, such as tiles, bathtubs and sinks.

What are the benefits of exfoliating?

As scientists estimate that the human body comprises of 10 trillion cells in total, and the human skin takes up approximately 16 percent of the body, then we have around 1.6 trillion skin cells. Out of this, between 30,000 and 40,000 fall off every hour.

In a day, a person would lose almost a million skill cells. A year would equal to about more than 8 pounds (or 3.6 kilograms) of dead skin. That’s a lot!

These dead skin cells simply fall off or collect on the surface of your skin. This can lead to clogged pores and buildup of whiteheads and/or blackheads.

Therefore, exfoliating is a skincare process which would help remove congestion, unclog pores and prevent ingrown hairs as getting rid of the layer of dead skin also helps hair grow normally.

How do I use a loofah for cleaning my skin?

The steps are as how you would normally clean yourself in the bath or shower:

  1. Wet your skin and the loofah,
  2. Apply an exfoliating cleanser or liquid soap to the dampened loofah and lather it up,
  3. Massage the area of skin you would like to clean, such as the face or body, with the lathered loofah,
  4. Rinse the cleanser or soap off with clean water.

If you are exfoliating your face, it is recommended to apply moisturizer afterwards to prevent any dryness.

Are loofahs safe for everyone to use?

These accessories may not be the best choice for everyone, particularly those with sensitive skin. Its can be quite coarse and its fibers may be too much for prolonged use.

They can be too abrasive or rough for certain skin types, such as those that are sensitive to dermabrasion and exfoliation, so if signs of irritation or redness start appearing after using a loofah then discontinue using it.

How should a loofah properly be cleaned?

Since loofahs are used to exfoliate, the dead skin cells that are trapped in the loofah can lead to bacteria build up if proper cleaning is not done afterwards and the loofah is left in the bathroom, where it collects moisture.

It needs to be maintained after each use to minimize this from happening. Instead of hanging it on a hook in the shower, use a dry towel to thoroughly absorb any moisture then put it in a cool, dry place outside of the bathroom.

It is recommended to clean one’s loofah every week in a mixture of water and bleach to remove any bacteria. After soaking it in the mixture for five minutes, it should be rinsed in cool water and dried.

How long can a loofah last?

This may depend on how frequently one uses their loofah.

However, it is recommended to replace the loofah every 3 to 4 weeks. It should also be replaced if it starts displaying signs of mold or have an unpleasant odor.

What are the best loofahs currently on the market?

Taken from review site Best Reviews, their article posted in August 2020 highlights loofahs of various categories and recommends the best based on six hours of research, consideration of 31 models available, one expert interview and consults from 475 consumers.

Below are three of their top rated loofahs:

Overall Best – CraftsOfEgypt’s Set of 3 100% Natural Egyptian Organic Loofah

This product set has been rated as being capable of lasting a long time and meets numerous exfoliating needs.

For a price of almost $17, these loofahs are eco-friendly with nothing artificial or synthetic. They also promote “luxury pore cleansing“, meaning a more thorough and comfortable cleanse thanks to the loofahs being long and wide in diameter (at 6 x 6 inches or 15 x 15 centimeters), having a looser knit than the common loofah and soft sponge material.

These loofahs are claimed to deliver quality of cleansing equivalent to spa treatments.

Best Value – AVE DEAL’s Exfoliating Scrubber Pack of 8 Exfoliating Loofah Sponge Pads

This pack has been rated of offering natural materials and reliable exfoliation. Its list price is nearly $21 but is currently priced at almost $10.

It is high quality and is made from eco-friendly materials, with a Terry cloth backing to make them easier to use. Not only eco-friendly, it does not contain any chemicals, hypoallergenic and non-toxic. Furthermore, it comes with elastic hand straps at its end for better gripping. Its texture is initially rough but softens with use.

The downside is that, although the pads are at a large size of 4 x 6 inches, they have been found to be somewhat thin and may fall apart after several months of use.

Best Loofah Mitts – Earth Therapeutics’ Exfoliating Bath Mitt

This mitt has been rated as being effective for most types of skin. Its list price is $8.99 but is currently priced at $6.95.

As it is in a mitt design, it can be used for any part of the body and even the face. It has been found to be capable for use of at least 6 months. However, after that it begins to slowly degrade.

Its texture is praised of being not too rough and leaves the skin feeling smooth and soft.

Best Back Scrubber – MaKas’ 4 Pack 100% Natural Organic Egyptian Loofah Sponges, Exfoliating Shower Loofah Body Scrubbers

This pack has been rated as being high for value; its price is $6.99.

They are 100% natural so they are not made of nylon or plastic whatsoever. Given that they come in a 4-pack, this makes the loofahs highly convenient for travel or taking to the spa. Each loofah is 2 x 3.9 inches big.

They are loofah sponges designed with a cotton lanyard to allow for easy handling as well as hanging and drying to prevent bacterial growth.

Furthermore, its usage is not limited to bathing and cleansing but also for washing dishes due to its great absorption capabilities. Two downsides that have been found, however, is its stiffness and inflexibility even when wet and its abrasiveness, which may be found uncomfortable by users with sensitive skin.

Is owning one really necessary?

This comes down to one’s preference.

Loofah’s are sort of like compression socks. You don’t need them, but they can really improve your day to day life if you use them frequently.

If you are the kind of person who finds routine exfoliation important as part of their skincare routine, then having a loofah is a definite necessity.

Since loofahs also have an alternate use of cleaning, owning one would be great for scrubbing otherwise difficult to clean surface areas in certain parts of a house, such as bathroom or kitchen tiles.

What are the alternatives to loofahs?

Synthetic bath poufs

Body poufs are made of synthetic materials, like plastic, meshed in a way to form a fluffy and spherical accessory. These are commonly found as a bathroom supply in supermarkets and stores that sell hygiene products. They typically include a looped rope for easy hanging in the shower.

Their shape and surface area makes it easier to lather liquid soap on. Although they can get as much cleaning done as loofahs, body poufs are much more gentle and may not give the same level of exfoliation, making them suitable for daily cleaning. In a sense, are more suited for sensitive skin.

If you are environmentally-conscious, as body poufs are made of synthetic material, they may not be ideal for you, however there are recyclable ones or ones made from 100 percent-recycled plastic netting.

Sea sponges

Sea sponges, or Porifera, are a great alternative to loofahs.

Unlike luffas, which are plants, sea sponges are animals that consume small particles as they filter water through their bodies. They are natural in the sense that they do not contain dyes, preservatives, or any kind of chemicals and are usually minimally processed.

Out of the thousands of kinds out there, only a few are harvested for our use in skin cleaning.

These are great at preventing bacteria growth, due to the natural enzymes they produce. They are also biodegradable.

Wash cloths

Wash cloths have been used for cleaning for many years. They are simple fabric materials which lather soap easily and just as effective for cleansing.

They are known under different names in different places, such as “flannel” or “face flannel” in England, for instance.

These can be cleaned easily, whether by hand or washing machine, so they would be as good as new after each use.

Conclusion

A loofah is a great cleaning accessory to have as it gets rid of dead skin cells and dirt from one’s face and body, leaving one feeling fresh with soft skin. It is recommended for those who enjoy exfoliating on a routine basis and like to maintain their skincare. Loofahs come in various types so there will be one for any preference.

References

  1. “Popular Loofah Sponges May Not Be the Best Shower Accessory — Here’s Why”, 2019, Healthline, https://www.healthline.com/health/loofah-sponge#What-is-a-loofah?
  2. “Luffa: Plant Then Exfoliate”, 2016, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, https://www.lewisginter.org/luffa-plant-exfoliate/
  3. “Loofah vs. Pouf”, Our Everyday Life, https://oureverydaylife.com/microfiber-vs-cotton-clothes-13307.html
  4. “Sponge, Loofah or Washcloth – Which is Best?”, 2018, WEBA Natural Products, https://webanaturalproducts.com/sponge-loofah-or-washcloth-which-is-best.html/
  5. “How many skin cells do you shed every day?”, How Stuff Works, https://health.howstuffworks.com/skin-care/information/anatomy/shed-skin-cells.htm
  6. “How to use a Loofah Sponge?”, 2020, The Pool, https://www.the-pool.com/how-to-use-a-loofah-sponge/
  7. “Best Loofahs”, 2020, Best Reviews, https://bestreviews.com/best-loofahs