The Loofah Difference
Our New Zealand grown loofah have a loose fibre weave making them soft on the skin for a gentle exfoliation but strong and long lasting allowing them to be used in many situations around the home - bathroom, wash-house and kitchen.
They are 100% plant based and can be composted at home. Our loofah are a great eco-friendly alternative to the plastic shower puff. They are also suitable for vegans.
The other kind of natural loofah that you can often find at the Chemist next to the pumice or sold on wooden handles are Chinese loofah, they have a tighter fibre weave making them much harder and more pumice like. They don't last as long as they are heavily bleached which causes them to become harder and and weakens the fibres. They are also often fumigated to be allowed into NZ.
These chinese loofah are quite different to our NZ grown ones and are more suited to those who like a heavy exfoliation (more pumice type).
Plastic Shower Puff:
The plastic shower puff/pouf (or plastic bath sponge) is soft on the skin and is more for washing the skin than exfoliating it.
The problem is that they contain a lot of plastic: Did you know that one standard sized shower puff ball contains 3.5 metres of plastic netting? We've written a whole other article here on what the plastic shower puff is made up of.They are soft and they do feel nice to wash your skin with but they are very harmful to the planet.
Sea sponges are often confused with loofah as they look somewhat similar but did you know that a sea sponge is actually an aquatic animal and not a plant. You can read more about how they are defined here at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. *
The sea sponge is very soft and doesn't offer any exfoliation. My experience with using a bath sea sponge is that it initially had a strong ocean/salty smell but I guess that would differ with each farmer as to how they process them. They have previously been harvested wild which has caused a decline in stock but the good news is that they are now being farmed which means they can be more sustainable.
They are cut and then dunked in chemicals for about three days to kill off any bugs or bacteria and also to lighten them up, they are then trimmed up ready for sale. I couldn't get mine to lather up with soap as much as my loofah but then again I'm completely biased and the smell was offputting.
Each bath sponge (whether it's natural or plastic, plant or animal) has a different consistency of exfoliation, lather abilities or feeling against the skin so it's really all about finding what's right for you.
NOAA. What is a sponge? Sponges — simple aquatic animals with dense, yet porous, skeletons. National Ocean Service website, https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/sponge.html, accessed on 7/10/2021.