Friday, June 24, 2011

Showering Under The Sea; The Smooth & Renew Loofah Mitt

The Good: Seems to exfoliate a fair amount, with a gentle quality
The Bad: Not abrasive enough, Does not last particularly long, Not great on sensitive areas
The Basics: Robbing me of dexterity and tearing off dead skin and scabs, the Smooth & Renew Loofah Mitt is a fair concept poorly executed.

As I review health and beauty products, I've been critical of foul smelling anti-bacterial hand lotions and generally disappointed with the ineffective apricot scrub from St. Ives , but I think I've found the weirdest health and beauty product yet for me to review with The Body Shop's Smooth & Renew Loofah Mitt. I started using the smooth and renew loofah mitt about a month ago and - until it disintegrated, it was what I was applying my prized Cinnamon Bun Heaven 3-in-1 with.

The rough road to smooth skin, the by-line to the smooth & renew loofah mitt, is apparently not a terribly useful or enduring road, either. The loofah mitt is designed to take the place of a washcloth or pouf and it is basically a glorified potholder with texture. There, I said it. This is basically a cotton mitten that has loofah fibers on the palm that one is supposed to use in the shower to clean.

I have nothing against the idea of a loofah mitt, but there are several problems with the execution of this particular idea. First, what does this product do right? The loofah mitt is basically a one-size-fits-all hygiene product. I have big hands and I have no problem fitting my hand into this mitt. So, it has that going for it. Even though the cotton seems to shrink with repeated use (I take very hot showers and the mitt is 100% cotton . . .), the mitt never stopped fitting.

As well, the loofah side is fairly abrasive. Up until the moment the product began falling apart, this was stiff, rough on the skin and seemed to do a good job of exfoliating medium-wear areas. I feared - before using this product - that it would essentially act like spaghetti; get it wet enough and it would simply go limp. That was not the case, though. This was very stiff constantly, which I think is what one wants from a loofah.

But therein starts the problems. The Smooth & Renew Loofah Mitt is poorly designed because it robs the hands not only of the fingers' dexterity, but of any real use of the hand as a useful appendage. The loofah is very stiff, which is what allows it to be abrasive to the skin, in essence acting like a Brillo pad on the skin. That's good. However, because it is so stiff and remains so stiff, the fingers cannot bend inward while wearing the mitt. This means that the loofah mitt is problematic to use around the more abrupt curves on the body. For example, cleaning around the ankles becomes a weird exercise in movement while wearing the smooth & renew mitt. Instead of being able to wash by wrapping the fingers around the ankle, the user is relegated to washing using a sanding motion up and down going around the ankle. Sigh.

Because the loofah is designed to be rinsed out, wrung out, and dried, the "grain" of the loofah mitt is maintained. After a few uses, I could bend my thumb in toward my palm (the loofah mitt does not prevent - in fact it encourages - a cupping motion of the hand) but this barely increased the functionality of the smooth and renew loofah mitt.

The loofah mitt is a weird middle ground as far as function as well. The loofah mitt is nowhere near as abrasive as a pumice stone, so it's not as good for taking care of the bottoms of feet or hand calluses. Conversely, it's way too abrasive to be comfortable on any remotely sensitive areas . . . . sigh. I understand that we want nice looking skin, but tearing up sensitive areas is not the way to do it. Added to that, this loofah mitt will tear off any scabs you might have and that's just not nice.

Why isn't this a complete wash of a product? Knees and elbows. As I've begun gardening for the season, its my knees and elbows where my skin suffers the most and within two showers with the loofah mitt's abrasive qualities, they become human again. The experience of exfoliating using the loofah mitt on the knees and elbows is not so delicate as to be ineffective nor so abrasive as to be overkill. It's just right for that function.

But . . . then it fell apart. After a month's use, the loofah side of the mitt began to break down. Once the first fibers of the loofah began to fall out, I only had a week before the product became useless. After the first fibers fell, it was less than a week before there were two holes in the loofah that were over an inch in diameter. The cotton mitt never gave out, nor did the stitching holding the loofah to the mitt, but it became disheartening to watch the thing fall apart and have to constantly clean up the shower drain. I tossed the mitt when I started finding loofah pieces in my hair (as opposed to vice versa).

Gardeners, I'd recommend this for use on your knees and elbows, but otherwise, I can't justify the expense when a washcloth with a good scrub ought to do what this sells itself to do.

For other health or beauty products, please check out my reviews of:
Burt's Bees Medicated Lip Balm
The Body Shop Strawberry Body Butter
Christmas Tree Vanilla Bean Noel soap


For other health and beauty product reviews, please check out my index page on the subject by clicking here!

© 2011, 2007 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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