One of the hottest skincare products of 2014 is a little sponge with humble beginnings: the Konjac sponge. Grown in the steep mountainous regions of Asia, the Konjac plant claims yams as their cousins. They’ve been used for medicinal and dietary purposes for centuries, but they’re as good for the outside of your body as they are for the inside. Ready to find out more? Here are four things you may not have known about the Konjac sponge.

  1. The Konjac plant is a perennial — most live around five years — that grows best at high altitudes and warm temperatures. Most come from Japan, China, and Indonesia. Like potatoes, the Konjac plant is made up almost entirely of water and fiber. It has almost zero calories. Because of that, it’s prized as a diet food and is found in everything from noodles to flour.
    Knojac noodles
    Photo Source: Flickr
  2. The sponge is made from the glucomannan fibers found in the plant’s corm (the part that looks like a potato) which is first sliced and then ground into a powder. Some sponges are made from nothing but glucomannan fibers; some contain other ingredients, like the Pure Complexion Facial Sponge. It’s infused with bamboo charcoal, which has long been used in Asia for its purifying properties.
    Konjac root
    Photo Source: Flickr
  3. As a beauty tool, Konjac sponges are natural exfoliators with none of the harsh chemicals you find in some commercial exfoliators. They’re also 100 percent biodegradable, and the plant itself is fully sustainable.
    Konjac plant
    Photo Source: Flickr
  4. When dry, the Konjac sponge resembles a volcanic rock more than a sponge: hard and lightweight. But, when you wet it, it becomes soft and slippery — the perfect gentle exfoliator. You may have to soak it for up to 15 minutes the first time you use it.
    Volcanic rock
    Photo Source: Flickr

The Konjac sponge is good for most skin types. If you have sensitive skin, however, the Pure Complexion Facial Sponge – Sensitive Skin does not include charcoal and is perfect for skin that is easily irritated. Whether used alone or with a cleanser, the Konjac sponge cleans dirt and oil, unclogs pores, and removes dead skin. Dermatologists suggest using it once a day, but you can cut it down to a few times per week if that feels better for your skin. Since Konjac sponges are 100 percent natural and chemical free, it’s important to prevent mold and bacteria from growing. The best method is to rinse your sponge thoroughly, squeeze out the excess water (don’t twist!) and leave it to dry. Another option is to put it in a plastic bag and keep it in the refrigerator. Konjac sponges usually last about four to six weeks. When it starts falling apart, it’s time for a new one.

Some of the hottest beauty trends have a long history, and the Konjac sponge is no exception. If you like to exfoliate but worry about putting harsh chemicals on your skin, this could be just what you’ve been waiting for.

Photo Source: Flickr