The Konjac facial sponge


Plant-Based Beauty: Using Konjac Sponges for Any Skin Type


How do you use a konjac sponge?

Good question. Konjac sponges have an incredible, genuinely addictive texture, but if you just pull one out of the package—hard and dry—you’ll have no idea what’s in store for you. We’ll return to the texture issue in a second, but first: How do you use a konjac facial sponge? Simply submerge the konjac in a little dish of warm water for a few minutes and let it puff up. (Or, lazy version: hold it under your shower head for 30 seconds, or however long it takes, while you’re already in the shower, and let it expand.) Use the konjac sponge to clean your face as you would any sponge—little circular motions, etc.—then give it a good rinse, squeeze out excess water, and keep it in your fridge till your next use. (If you purchase your konjac sponge at Mynd, it will come in a pretty little reusable, frosted-plastic sack that you can store it in.)

O.K., now to the best part—that crazy cool texture:

What is a konjac facial sponge?

For centuries, konjac was used as a food and a medicine—not a sponge. An Asian vegetable, the konjac plant is known best for its bulbous root (think: a rough-skinned potato), which contains a unique fiber that, recent medical studies say, may help people who consume it lose weight, increase their probiotic counts, lower blood sugar, and lower cholesterol. Konjac is also used as a substitute for gelatin. Which finally gets to the cool part: how a konjac sponge feels.

While we don’t recommend that you eat a konjac sponge, you’ll probably want to. It has an addictive texture—seems strange to say that about a facial sponge, but it’s true. Our best comparison? Fresh, super-moist sponge cake whose recipe calls for a packet of Jell-O.

In reality, the “recipe” for a konjac sponge is ground-up konjac root and a binding agent. Because of the root’s gelatinous fiber, the final sponge gets that unique texture when it gets wet.

What are the benefits of a konjac sponge?

The benefits also tie in to water. . . Incredibly, when you use a konjac sponge on your face, your skin never directly touches the sponge. That’s because when a konjac sponge gets wet, a very thin aqueous—watery—layer forms over it, creating a barrier between sponge fibers and your skin. Since skin never has direct contact with the (already soft) konjac fibers, the exfoliation and cleansing you achieve with a konjac are very gentle.

But there’s a better benefit: While the dirt and grim that’s stuck in the pores of the skin is often acidic, that thin watery layer surrounding a konjac is alkaline. When the two meet, the watery layer neutralizes the debris and breaks it down. Dirt (and gross “plugs”) slip out of pores and can be rinsed away. While many people use konjac sponges to buff their faces with their regular facial cleanser, you actually don’t need to—the konjac’s unique properties can clean skin (even deep pores) without soap.

“Konjac sponges were first developed as a super-soft way to clean and exfoliate babies’ skin,” Isabel Vigil, Mynd’s brand consultant, who helped find the best konjac sponges for Mynd, told us. “They’re amazing because you get a really deep clean, but that unique texture protects the skin.” Springy soft, konjac sponges are even recommended for use around the eye area (how often do you hear that?) and for people with eczema.

What are the best konjac sponges to buy?

Konjac is trending for good reason, but what’s the best konjac sponge? Through Vigil, Mynd discovered the original Japanese manufacturer of konjac sponges, Yamamoto Farms, and is making these special, two-ingredient sponges (just konjac root and a binding ingredient) available at the retail section of Mynd locations nationwide.

Many konjac sponges are infused with chemicals and coloring, but Mynd’s Yamamoto Farms sponges ($15) are pure konjac, using konjac that’s grown in Gunma Prefecture (a mountainous region in central Japan), ground into a powder, and molded into perfect, little round sponges.

How long do konjac sponges last?

Konjac sponges last about four to six weeks. “You’ll know it when they’re done—they’ll start to break down a little,” says Vigil. “But that makes sense—they’re a plant!” When you’re through, you can put Yamamoto Farms sponges directly in your compost bin, or throw them out, knowing they’ll decay naturally (not clog up a landfill for a few hundred years, like a plastic sponge).

If you’re looking for a more long-term cleaning-device commitment, consider using a Foreo—almost identical in size to Yamamoto Farms’ konjac sponge and another unique way to deeply clean and exfoliate, but completely high tech. While konjac sponges use the special properties of an ancient plant, the silicone Foreo sends T-sonic pulsations into the skin to cause exfoliation to happen from the inside out. The Foreo Luna Mini 2 lasts, even with daily use, for seven years. “Mynd offers two cleaning devices, and they’re on totally opposite ends of the spectrum,” Vigil says with a laugh, “but we chose them because they’re both great.”