While people often use the names "loofah" and "pouf" interchangeably, these are actually two different products with a variety of benefits and drawbacks, depending on your particular beauty goals. Perhaps you need deep exfoliation or you simply want to lather up with your favorite body wash -- whatever the case may be, determine which of these shower accessories make the best impact on your beauty routine and feel free and easy tossing one or the other into your shopping cart.
Real loofahs come from the fibrous fruit of the luffa plant (Luffa acutangula and Luffa aegyptiaca). The dry form of the gourd results in a vast network of fibers in a tubular form. In the bath or shower lubricate your skin with body cleanser or body oil and rub this hard sponge-like accessory -- which remains rough-textured when wet -- over lubricated skin for extreme exfoliation. Although you may find loofahs designed with attached ropes or handles, more frequently the loofah will need a shelf or resting spot for storage. In addition, loofah material can be flattened out and made into a mitt for easier use.
The body pouf is made out of netted synthetic materials, such as plastic, that are gathered into looped sections of mesh and make up a fluffy, spherical accessory -- this creates a lot of surface area where cleanser and water can gather for a sudsy experience. While poufs provide some exfoliation, they are much more gentle than loofahs and create a much larger lather. Poufs typically include a looped rope for easy hanging in the bath or shower and they come in a variety of colors.
Because the loofah comes from a plant that can be re-grown, this natural product fits well into a green, sustainable lifestyle. You may also come across synthetic loofahs made from either recyclable or non-recyclable materials. Always read the label to determine whether a particular loofah fits your preferences. Body poufs are made of synthetic material and therefore are not considered completely green. However, if you prefer a pouf, look for recyclable varieties for an earth-friendly approach, such as those made of 100 percent-recycled plastic netting.
If you need deep exfoliation, choose a loofah. Gently using a loofah on your legs a day after shaving can help remove dead skin cells and release hairs that may otherwise become trapped. However, keep in mind that the scrubbing capacity of this accessory is strong and can result in irritated skin, particularly if used on the face or areas that have blemished skin. In the case of extremely sensitive skin, reach for a pouf. Both accessories, however, can harbor bacteria in the shower, so replace them or keep them clean. For the most convenient cleaning option, choose poufs, which can be laundered easily along with your other clothes.
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- The New York Times: Who Made That Loofah Mitt?
- Mother Earth News: The Highly Versatile Luffa Plant
- Glamour: Poll -- Do You Use a Shower Pouf, Washcloth Or Just the Bar of Soap?
- Ecotools: Ecopouf Exfoliating Sponge
- Go Ask Alice!: Are Washcloths and Other Body Scrubbers Bacteria Factories?
- Refinery29: Are You Sabotaging Your Skin?
- InStyle: Inside Beauty -- 20 Most Annoying Beauty Problems Solved
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Tarah Damask's writing career began in 2003 and includes experience as a fashion writer/editor for Neiman Marcus, short fiction publications in "North Texas Review," a self-published novel, band biographies, charter school curriculum and articles for various websites. Damask holds a Master of Arts in English and creative writing from the University of North Texas.