Monday, June 9, 2014

A Tale of Two Body Scrubs, and the Konjac Sponges.

I have Chicken Skin. There, I said it, even though it makes me sad. The medical name is Keratosis Pilaris and here's a link to Dr. Oz's website, if you want to know more about it.
For me, it started at puberty (when all Bad Things started), and my soft child's skin turned rough and bumpy on my thighs, butt and the backs of my upper arms. It's harmless but unattractive, and it never goes away. It's just unappealing. But ever since my skin became like sandpaper, I've been trying out various beauty routines to remedy it. The most successful for me has been using a scrubbing cloth - - with a salt scrub every time I shower, and then immediately coating with lotion or body oil when I get out of the shower. This makes my skin very soft and much smoother. However, it doesn't take away the dotty look. Apparently, according to doctors I've talked to, nothing works permanently to get rid of the excess skin cells that build up around individual hair follicles, and create that dotted look. My skin is also very pale and thin, so being almost translucent, what's below, like hair follicles, show somewhat on the surface. 

Anyway, here is a review for two salt scrubs that I bought recently from Ulta. One is c. Booth All-Over-Body Sea Salt Scrub, and the other one is Mor Honey Nectar Salt and Sugar Body Scrub. 

I originally saw the c. Booth scrub in a magazine and sought it out because of the beautiful ice blue color. And IRL (in real life) the color is a gorgeous swimming pool blue, but when I opened the jar (8 oz.), I was taken aback by the strong, medicinal odor. This scrub features enticing ingredients, like algae and real sea salt, but the eucalyptus oil, to my nose at least, is so overpowering that it negates the positives of this product. While I like eucalyptus scent in general, this scrub smells too strong. It reminds me of Vicks Vapo Rub, and because of that, I do not enjoy using it. It contains glycerin, which I've read is very good for dry skin, and is free of parabens, sulphates, mineral oil and petrolatum. That is all good, but I just can't take the strong smell. It even scents my whole bathroom after I use it. Also, this scrub does not have an oil base, so while it did scrub my chicken skin, it didn't leave it particularly soft or moisturized afterward. As mentioned, it is for sale at Ulta, for $8.99.

The second scrub is by Mor and I also purchased it at Ulta, but according to their website, it is no longer available there. However, you can find it directly from the company's website:
This scrub at first appears to be more expensive, at $22, than the one from c. Booth, but it is actually cheaper, because the c. Booth scrub is only 8oz. and the Mor scrub jar contains 21.5 oz. It is a little misconceiving because the jars look almost the same size from the outside. Anywho, the Mor scrub has a delicious honey vanilla scent which I just ADORE. Seriously, it smells so good! I especially use this scrub before a date or party because it makes ME feel delicious. Just like the c. Booth scrub, the Honey Nectar is free of all the bad stuff (parabens, sulphates, mineral oil and petrolatum), but this scrub has both sea salt and sugar, plus a moisturizing and soothing base of jojoba oil and avocado oil. Also, it is not tested on animals. And it works wonderfully to smooth my skin and leave it feeling soft and moisturized. I highly recommend this scrub if you want soft, sweetly scented skin. Of course, as with any salt scrub, do not use if you have a cut, or have just shaved, because .... well, Ouch!  Anyway, buy it, it's awesome!

Clockwise from top: Dew Puff Original Konjac Sponge, MyKonjac Bamboo Charcoal Sponge, and Dew Puff Asian Clay Konjac Sponge.

A hot, new trend in skin care is the Konjac sponge. These beauty wonders come from Korea and are the dried fibers of a root vegetable native to Asia. Some of the beauty claims associated with this sponge are that it can break down dirt and promote circulation, and that it is good for delicate skin. I purchased three varieties. I bought two from the brand Dew Puff, for $7.00 each, from Walgreens. One is white and is called the "Original Konjac Sponge." The other one is peachy colored and is the "Asian Clay" version. The third sponge I bought is a smaller, grey version from MyKonjacSponge.
The bamboo charcoal version and the clay version are said to be particularly good for acne. I don't suffer from acne (I usually get one pimple every month with my cycle), so I can't speak to whether this claim is true. And actually, I've been using all three sponges interchangeably and don't really notice a difference between them, other than the fact that the smaller, charcoal one takes longer to fluff up after you wet it than the other two, larger sponges. Here is a picture of the root vegetable in its natural state. Interesting:

The way you use these sponges is to moisten them with water to fluff them up. When they are not in use, you can hang them by a little string that is attached. The grey sponge (which was $10) came with a tiny white suction cup which I stuck to my shower wall, and I hang all three of the sponges on it to dry between use. When they dry, they shrink and get hard. After moistening the sponge, you can either use it plain or with your favorite cleanser. I tried using it without a cleanser and I didn't feel like my skin really got clean. So now I've been using it with my RestoreSea cleanser (which I will review in a later post), and it works very well to spread the cleanser around my face. You clean your entire face with a gentle massaging motion, and after using, rinse puff, squeeze out water, and hang to dry until next time.  Apparently, you are supposed to replace the puff every 3 months.

I have to say, I really like these sponges and in 3 months time, I will buy a new one and keep using it. As I mentioned, I don't really notice a difference between the three types I purchased. What I like about them is that they are very soft and are gentle on my delicate skin. The size and teardrop shape is ergonomic, fits well in my hand, and is good at getting into the smaller spaces on the face, like between nose and eyes. It is more gentle than a Clarisonic type brush, yet better than finger tips at getting your cleanser on your whole face. So in sum, I don't know that the miracle claims are true, but since this sponge is cheap, easy to find, and pleasant and efficient to use, I would definitely recommend you try it out.