Konjac Sponge – Changing up your skin routine

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I was in Winners the other day, going through their cosmetics and skin care and sometimes you find that great one-off product. I came across a Konjac sponge and it reminded me how much I enjoyed using them as part of my skin care routine. In short, it’s a biodegradable reusable sponge made of a Japanese plant fiber that gently exfoliates skin, helping slough off dead skin cells. It can be used alone or in conjunction with cleansers to really get that deep clean. This sponge is gentle enough to use daily and after several uses, your skin is softer and refreshed looking.

What is Konjac?

Also known as Konjaku, Devil’s Tongue, Snake Palm and Voodoo Lily, Konjac is a perennial plant that grows in Asia. It has a potato-like corm that grows in the ground and a stalk plant that produces a lily-like flower. The Japanese have used the corm as a food source and as a beauty remedy for many years. The sponge is made up of the vegetable’s plant fiber to create a webbed/meshed sponge and can be infused with skin benefiting properties, such as green tea, for added anti-oxidants and to help with inflammation, clays for added vitamins and minerals, and activated charcoals, to promote the removal of oil and dirt. The Konjac Sponge is 100% natural and biodegradable.

How does it work?

The sponge is made up of soft mesh-like fibers that act as a gentle exfoliator for your face and body. The fibrous sponge sloughs off dry/dead skin cells, and removes some surface dirt and oils, leaving the skin feeling soft and refreshed. It can also help remove non-waterproof makeup, but to get a deeper clean and to ensure all your makeup/dirt and oils are removed, it is best to use it in conjunction with a cleanser.

How do you use it?

When you first get the sponge it will be dried out and hard, run it under warm water to soften it and to make it flexible. You can now massage the sponge onto your skin. Use a separate sponge for your face and body.

You can use it with or without a cleanser. Without a cleanser, the sponge simply scrubs the skin, removing skin cells and some dirt and oils. To get a deeper clean, I always use it with a cleanser. In the mornings, I simply pump on the cleanser, and then massage my face with the sponge, working it in problematic areas, like around my nose, and right now my chin and upper lip, because of dry skin patches. I rinse the sponge under the water and squeeze the sponge to remove excess soap. Then I continue to use the sponge to rinse the rest of my face. At night, I typically remove my makeup first with a face wipe and makeup remover and then in the shower, I will use the sponge and a charcoal cleanser in the same way as my morning routine.

When you are done with the sponge, squeeze out as much water as you can. Don’t “wring” out the sponge like you would a towel however, you’ll just damage the sponge and it’ll have a shorter shelf-life. Store the sponge on a bath rack OR thread a string through it to hang it in the shower. You need to let the sponge dry out in between uses or else mold will grow and that’s just not fun.

How long does the sponge last?

Typically the sponge will last for 2-3 months. Over time the sponge will loose its elasticity. I suggest replacing it within 2-3 months anyway even if it lasts longer, because over time bacteria will build.

Where do you buy them?

Winners ($6CAD) – The brand I picked up was “Spa Sisters”, a Green Tea infused Konjac sponge, a great find. Once again, this may or may not have been a one-off kind of product from Winners, you know how they have a bunch of random things you can find and may never find again. Maybe you’ll get lucky and find one too but I did find their website and linked it for you! 

The Face Shop ($6CAD) – They have both the original Pure Konjac sponge and the Charcoal Konjac sponge. What’s unique about theirs is the teardrop shape. The shape helps get into corners, like around the nose, a lot easier. I have used the charcoal sponge and love it. After the Spa Sisters sponge, I will be repurchase the charcoal sponge.

Boscia at Sephora ($16-20CAD) – Boscia has their pure Konjac sponge, charcoal sponge and hydrating clay sponge. I personally have not tried these before BUT it is made of the same plant fiber as any other Konjac sponge. I want to think you’ll get the same experience with the cheaper alternatives.

If you have any other places where to find this sponge, let me know and I’ll add it to the list!

 

Using the sponge with my cleanser instead of working the cleanser with my hands, really has improved my skin. I find my skin feels softer and cleaner – without being dried out. I have a pimple on my chin that has scarred and the sponge has helped scrub off the dead skin cells and promote new skin cell growth. You will need to use the sponge for a couple of days to start seeing the difference but I think it is worth the try. It is a great natural exfoliator that is suitable for all skin types, especially for sensitive skin because it really is gentle.

If you try the Konjac sponge out, let me know in the comments below!

I'll talk to you guys next time,

Karen.

 

A Closer Look: Setting Powders

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When using a liquid or cream foundation you're going to want to set the foundation with a setting powder to create that flawless, seamless look. Setting powders absorb excess moisture and oils and prevents the makeup from creasing or caking throughout the day. I find that setting powders are great for normal to oily skin. If your skin is very dry, adding a setting powder over your foundation may dry out your skin further. For those with very dry skin, skip this step and go for a liquid to powder foundation.

Setting powders come in a pressed compact or as a loose powder. Normally they are white in colour and go on transparent or they can be slightly tinted to a flesh tone. Either way, a good setting powder will be fine enough and soft enough to be absorbed into your skin and fill in the pores, giving a smooth look with no residual powder left over. I've tried a few setting powders and at some point you start to think that they are all the same. And that got me thinking, are they the same? What goes into these products? I did some research, I looked at my most commonly purchased products, shown below, and quickly broke down the main ingredients in all of them. You'll see that many of these ingredients are common to most of them.

Clockwise from the top:

Make Up Forever Super Matte Loose Powder Ingredients: Talc, Silica, Nylon-12, Silk Powder, Propylparaben, Butylparaben, Methylparaben, Dehydroacetic Acid. May Contain: Iron Oxides, Mica, Red 27 Lake, Titanium Dioxide, Yellow 10 Lake, Red 7 Lake, Red 21 Lake, Yellow 6 Lake, Ultramarines, Blue 1 Lake, Yellow 5 Lake, Red 6, Manganese Violet, Chromium Oxide Greens, Chromium Hydroxide Green, Synthetic Fluorphlogopite, Slica, Calcium Sodium Borosilicate, Tin Oxide.

Joe Fresh Translucent Loose Powder Ingredients: Talc, Silica, Phenoxyethanol, Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxides

NYX HD Studio Photogenic Finishing Powder Ingredients: Silica 

Tarte Smooth Operator Ingredients: Amazonian Clay, Silica, Talc, Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Phenoxyethanol, Dimethicone, Kaolin.

Silica or Silicon Dioxide (SiO2), a natural mineral found in sand, clay and granite. It's very versatile in the makeup world, typically used to bulk up products. It is also anticaking, prevents products from clumping and it's very good at absorbing oils and moisture.

Talc or Talcum Powder (Magnesium Silicate), is used to absorb moisture, a bulking agent, and anticaking. Talc has become controversial over the years because in its natural form, talc is known to contain asbestos - a carcinogen. So when talcum powder is processed, they are manufactured "asbestos-free" for things like cosmetic use, but there is always that risk. Actually, a few years ago, CoverFX reformulated their products and completely eliminated talc from their entire line, replacing it with Mica. However, you still see talc in many cosmetic products today.

Mica or Sheet Silicates - Micas are a group of silicates that are physically and chemically similar, forming sheet layers. It is used as colour additives in makeup, and has reflective properties to give that shimmering effect in mineral foundation. It is also used as a bulking agent and is also good at absorbing moisture and oils. Working with mica poses a high risk of exposure through inhalation. I should mention that inhaling any fine particle poses a risk to your respiratory health.

Amazonian Clay or Aluminum Silicate. An ingredient used in all of Tarte cosmetics. Amazonian clay is collected from the banks of the river basin in the Amazon. The clay is collected through a selective process to maintain and preserve the environment and its natural resources. The clay is dried and then shaved into a fine powder which is directly used to bulk up Tarte cosmetics. Like the other silicates, it absorbs moisture and oil to mattify the skin, but this source of clay contains many natural nutrients that also promises to nourish and help improve the overall quality of skin.

Titanium Dioxide (TiO2), a natural mineral used as a colouring agent, a whitener/lightener, and also used as a UV blocker. This is a very common ingredient in sunscreen or sunblock. Titanium Dioxide is normally coated in silica and alumina what in sunscreen because they can be absorbed into the skin, which can then photo catalyze the production of free radicals (highly reactive compounds) that damage DNA (which then defeats the purpose of a UV blocker).

Phenoxyethanol - a preservative to minimize bacterial growth in cosmetics. Also a stabilizer in soaps and perfumes. May cause an allergic reaction, from eczema to hives.

Overall, each of the products mentioned perform similarly, they absorb oils, mattifies the skin, and gives your face that smoothed over look. However, I'm going to have to single out NYX's setting powder, I am not a fan. This is purely silica, and doesn't blend or absorb into the skin as well as the others and it leaves a white cast on my light-medium skin tone.  I can only assume that the powder is not as soft, and being harsher, it doesn't melt into the skin as well or as quickly. If you want a drug store brand, I by far prefer Joe Fresh's setting powder. Last thing, if talc is a concern for you, try CoverFX's setting powder, which I have also used, but isn't pictured.

I hope this was informative for you guys. I wanted to learn more about what goes into a product and therefore, I am sharing with you what I learnt. All the ingredients can be found on the Sephora website or on the packaging of your product. If you have any questions, I would be happy to answer them in the comments below.

For more information, I will link my sources below in order as the information appears:
https://www.truthinaging.com/ingredients/silica
http://www.safecosmetics.org/get-the-facts/chemicals-of-concern/talc/
http://www.safecosmetics.org/get-the-facts/chemicals-of-concern/mica/
http://tartecosmetics.com/page/amazonian-clay
https://www.truthinaging.com/ingredients/titanium-dioxide
http://www.safecosmetics.org/get-the-facts/chemicals-of-concern/phenoxyethanol/

Until next time!
xo,
Karen