There’s one beauty item that has been with me through the awkward teen years up until this point. It’s not the standard concealer, mascara or even pre-teen lipgloss that I’m talking about, rather one of the most basic shower tools that everyone, and literally their mother, seem to own: the loofah. I started using a mesh puff when I first discovered exfoliation as a way to rid my skin of any unwanted blemishes. Though I rarely had any rough skin, it made me feel at the maximum of clean. I’d squirt body wash in the loofah, suds up and scrub everything from the bottoms of my feet to behind my neck. As an easy way to distribute soap, I took my loofah everywhere: college, friends’ houses, road trips, and I even had a mini one that traveled with me. How else are you supposed to get suds on the go?
However, over the years, my loofah love has fallen short. I’m not sure if it’s an article I read (similar to this one) about the disgusting reality of the germs that lurk inside the beloved pink poofs, or that it’s a symbol of the early aught beauty, but at some point, I stopped reaching for it. This is why I’m saying so long, loofah.
I am one of the least germaphobic people out there. In fact, half the time I wash my hands for other people rather than for my own health. But when I read about all the germies that are nestled inside the plastic mesh ball of a loofah, I had to sit up and listen. Not only is the thing sitting in the damp shower molding, but it’s also covered in bacteria from our bodies. Those bacteria and germs can give you all kinds of skin irritations and worse, if exposed to an open cut or scratch, can cause severe infection. After I read all about the unsanitary issues of loofahs, my reaction was less of panic and more of a shrug. It didn’t look filthy, so while I was sure there was a whole petri dish full of spores growing in my pink loofah, I wasn’t worried. As long as it wasn’t green, I’m fine, right? Which brings me to the next issue….cleaning.
Okay, so I recognized that like makeup brushes, I’m supposed to clean a loofah regularly. I think I first read that it should be microwaved after each use to kill the germs. Zapping should work fine for sterilization, but I was a little apprehensive to place what is mostly a knot of flimsy plastic into the microwave. Childhood fears of exploding/melting things come to mind. Anyway, some websites say you can soak them in alcohol or bleach, but honestly, that doesn’t sound all that moisturizing to me. Imagine a little bleach smell every time you go into the shower – mmhm so calming. Aside from that you’re not even supposed to leave them in the shower so then you have to bring a college dorm caddy each time you need to exfoliate. Dermatologists also suggest you replace them every few weeks, which to me is just a big waste. The warnings were all too much, and so I didn’t listen to any of it.
In the end, I think what did the loofah in was the reality that the plastic was too abrasive. I’ve been moving more towards natural body scrubs, and the rashy feeling I got after using a loofah wasn’t satisfying. When I started using this scrub, I recognized how moisturized and protected my skin felt after, with the coconut oil lingering and hydrating post-shower. The loofah just made me feel a little raw everywhere. Ultimately it was a gradual change, where I started to reach for other products over time. Last week when I saw the loofah swinging untouched for weeks, it was a sad reminder of an old body wash lover, and I realized it was time to say goodbye.
I’m sure I’ll see you around loofah, just not in my shower.
What beauty products have you recently retired? And be sure to check out this hilarious article about Gwyneth Paltrow’s $900 GOOP loofah!