In our quest to achieve smooth skin, some of us might use a loofah, the coarsely textured bath accessory shaped like an underwater creature. And while they may be good at cleaning and exfoliating your skin, loofahs might not be the best thing to use in the long run, simply because they are much more high-maintenance than you may have first thought.
Natural loofahs aren’t made of sea sponges or coral; they’re actually made from the luffa gourd, which is a cousin to the cucumber and zucchini, and which is grown in tropical and subtropical climates. When the gourd is harvested, it is dried before it is used as a sponge. We just don’t use loofahs to clean and exfoliate our skin or to stimulate circulation while we take a shower — they can be used to scrub hard-to-clean household surfaces from bathroom tiles to showers and sinks, too (via Healthline).
Loofahs provide a breeding ground for germs
But the nooks and crannies that make the loofah so good at sloughing off dead skin are the same nooks and crannies that make it the perfect breeding ground for microscopic creepy crawlies. Think about it. When you use your loofah to scrub your skin, your skin cells will find their way into these nooks and crannies — where they will sit and attract germs, unless they are cleaned and disinfected properly and regularly. Dermatologist Melissa Piliang says: “Loofahs are interesting. They’re used in a wet environment and you hang them up in the shower, which is also a wet environment. They don’t ever totally dry out, so the loofah is a beautiful breeding ground for bacteria” (via Cleveland Clinic).
Loofahs need to be kept clean and dry
To keep your loofah from becoming your skin’s worst enemy, rinse the loofah properly each time you use it, and leave it to dry somewhere where it’s not damp like your shower area. You may want to avoid your loofah after your shave, because bacteria from your scrubber can enter any nicks or small cuts on your skin, where it can then cause an infection. Don’t use your loofah in places where your skin is especially sensitive — like your skin or your privates. And especially if you have a natural loofah, look to replace it every three to four weeks; plastic loofahs which look like stiff, bunched up flowers, can last up to two months if they are stored and cleaned properly.
But there is one caveat: “If you notice any mold growing on your loofah, you should throw it away and get a new one. Or if it develops a mildewy or musty odor — that’s a sign you should get rid of your loofah,” Piliang says. So, if you can’t remember when you purchased your loofah, well, it’s time to replace it!
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