The Konjac Sponge and How To Use Them
Konjac sponges are amazing and I simply couldn’t walk past this amazing beauty bargain last week without popping one in the basket: three konjac sponges for $7.00 at a Canadian drugstore. Yes please and thank you very much. Note the packaging is also en francais. It may be the right thing to do, but it means all the writing on packages in Canada is eeeeennnsy weeeensy, which is doing my eyesight in.
Not that my bathroom cabinet is in need of any more cleansing options. Truly. There are so many ways to wash away makeup and general out-and about grime and pollutants, it’s a wonder we know where to begin. There’s those regular cleansers, remember them? Put them on your face, move them around a bit, rinse with water, SO old school. I can’t imagine how we coped when that was the only choice. There’s the ubiquitous Clarasonic and all its spin-offs, that new rubbery thing, the Foreo LUNA 2 for Sensitive Skin, have you had the pleasure of running into one of those yet? I’ve seen them at Sephora but am still thinking about the concept and whether I want to spend that kind of cash. The Foreo IRIS Eye Massager is on my wish list though, and I do have a birthday coming up! There’s micellar waters, cleansing oils, milks, balms and exfoliators for shelves and shelves. And the meek but mighty konjac sponge. I used to use one pre-blog, and then lapsed; this time I’m bringing them to you.
Konjac sponges are made from the fibers of the konjac (konnyaku) plant and have been used for centuries in Japan to clean newborn babies because of their soft texture. The sponge, not the baby. Although babies are very very soft. Konjac is a member of the potato family, a perennial plant native to Asia and grows wild at very high altitudes. A totally natural food source, it is is 97% water, rich in mineral goodness and low in calories but don’t eat the sponge please. The plant is naturally alkaline and pH neutral, which makes it an ideal cleansing medium. It’s been used in Korea, Japan and China for over 1,500 years as medicine, food, a dieting aid and a beauty product. The cosmetic sponges started to swim to our shores with the rise of K-Beauty imports. Three cheers for world trade.
Being plant-based, konjac sponges are biodegradable, fully sustainable, vegan-friendly and probably one of the most natural ways to wash your face barring using only water which doesn’t do much – you don’t even need to add a cleanser if you don’t want to. The sponge itself does the cleaning.
There’s a variety of sponges available according to your skin type and cleansing needs. To make them, the fibrous plant base is mixed with water and other ingredients, e.g. charcoal or clay for a specialised sponge. My three-pack includes:
- Pink Clay konjac sponge – for sensitive skin
- Lavender konjac sponge – soft and gentle with soothing qualities of lavender
- Charcoal – gently exfoliates, ideal for controlling occasional breakouts
On your behalf I tested the lavender sponge for the blog. My skin isn’t overly sensitive and I don’t break out much. I do have a spot brewing on the corner of my mouth and quite a bit of congestion around my chin, thanks electrolysis (bet you’re looking forward to that post!), so I’ll pay special attention to those and let you know the results. I should probably use the charcoal one on the troubled areas.
But back to the sponges: they’re very hard to the touch when you first open the package and are dome-shaped. They look like fancy pumice stones.
Soak them in warm water for 3-5 minutes before using, and up to fifteen minutes for first time use, until it absorbs lots of water and feels nice and squishy.It will have expanded to about 1 1/2 it’s original size. Gently squeeze the excess water out of the sponge. It’s hard to explain what they feel like; a gelatinous sponge is the best description I can come up with. Your sponge is now ready for use:
Use the damp sponge to cleanse, using circular movements all over the face and neck. It’s nice and soft so there’s no drag on the skin and even if you were to apply the most pressure you could, you can do no damage- it’s too soft! It simply glides around like a friendly jellyfish, eating up all the makeup and dirt as it goes. You can use the edge to take the sponge up around the eye area. You’ll get the hang of it and feel your way around.
I did have to use eye makeup remover to get rid of the day’s my eye makeup which didn’t even budge after using the sponge alone. Granted I was wearing some wonderfully long-lasting Korean eye tints from BelleMe (if you follow me on Insta you’ll have seen me raving about them) and my favourite waterproof mascara so fair enough, it’s a lot for a mere potato to handle.
After the first use, my face feels really smooth and velvety but not wet at all, which is strange because I expected it to. It feels squeaky clean without feeling a bit parched or pinched. Yay. No rinsing required, you can go straight to your serums, oils, whatever routine and settle in for the night.
Taking care of your new squishy friend is so easy. To clean the sponge, simply run it under hot water after you’re done and allow it to dry in an airy place between uses. Be careful not to wring it out as this may damage the delicate plant fibres, just squeeze between your flattened hands. You can also pop your clean sponge in the fridge to keep it fresh and cool, which helps it last even longer. Alternatively, your sponge is happy to be aired on a radiator or heated towel rail. When dried, it will go back to it’s original size and texture; simply soak it to absorb water before using it again. It even comes with a nifty string thingy attached so you can hang it to dry! How brilliant is that.
Never use the sponge when it’s dry. It will hurt and scratch your skin. The better care of the sponge you take, the longer it will last. You should get at least two – three months out of it, which isn’t bad for a vegetable you keep in the washroom. Don’t leave it sitting in the shower or in a pool of water which will shorten it’s life; once it starts to look tired or breaks down, get rid of it. They can be composted or used in the garden to help water your plants by holding moisture. Stick them in your pot plants and tell your friends there’s been an alien slug invasion.
Finding the pack on sale was meant to be; I am falling back in love with konjac sponges. They are really fun to use and feel lovely, which makes it easy to spend more time than usual doing your cleansing routine; a plus in every way. I went around and around my face and then used the principles of facial massage to sweep the thing all over my face and up from the neck which turned into a good five minutes of “work” that I thoroughly enjoyed. I ended up very glowy, and that’s without cleanser added but if you’re wearing makeup, you might want to add cleanser to the sponge for better cleaning. The top pad shows what was left on my skin after using the sponge on it’s own. The bottom one is what’s left after using my regular cleanser and the sponge- it’s very clean! If you don’t use makeup you’re fine to use the sponge all by itself. Word to the wise, if you add cleanser, use a tiny bit. Also a saving- a small investment in a konjac sponge will save you on cleanser bills.
Interestingly, I found some tattoo after-care sponges at www.konjacspongecompany.com so if you’re into inking this could save a lot of post-tat issues. Use the sponge on new tats to remove dirt, blood and plasma. The gentle sponge, which is larger than the facial ones, for obvious reasons, cleans and soothes the affected area and should reduce the likelihood of large scabs forming. Once the new layers of skin have been exposed, the sponge will help cleanse and condition the new delicate and sensitive skin without the need for any soap, which could irritate or dry out the affected area. Sterilise it in between uses by boiling in water for two minutes.
I’ll be dreaming about purple and pink jellyfish off the Greek Islands this week. Carry on konjacing! Let me know how you get on.