Luffa cylindrica (smooth luffa, loofah gourd, vegetable sponge; kankan-ayaba-Yoruba; ogbo-Igbo; baska-Hausa) Family- Cucurbitaceae.
An annual climber with yellow flower, long gourd-like spongy fruit, leaves with auxiliary tendrils.
Parts used: Leaves, leaf juice, fruit, seeds. When the mature fruit of luffa is allowed to dry, a fibrous, sponge-like structure remains.
Luffa cylindrica is good for skin and wrinkles. This common vegetable rejuvenates the skin and is used popularly by the Chinese for facial discoloration and wrinkle conditions. It also is commonly processed for use as a bath sponge, to exfoliate and polish the skin.
While regular skin cleansing is clearly beneficial, exfoliating your skin on a regular basis can improve the results of your skin care routine and help rejuvenate your skin. Whether you have dry, normal, oily or sensitive skin, exfoliation can bring new life to your complexion. It can be performed manually, by using abrasive scrubs on the skin or chemically, by using scrubs that contain special kinds of acids that dissolve and remove the dead skin cells without scrubbing.
The best type of exfoliation depends on the complexion, health and sensitivity of your skin. If you have extremely sensitive skin or severe acne, you will want to choose an exfoliating product and method carefully. A professional skin care therapist can help you choose the method most appropriate for you. I always prefer simple, non-chemical methods comprising of natural materials that contain plant derived enzymes. And of course, the routine should be limited to once a week, as over-exfoliating can leave your skin dry, irritated and damaged.
With proper exfoliation some of the noticeable changes on your skin may include-
Improved skin texture-tired, dead cells are shed, and this speeds up the skin renewal process, allowing new healthy cells to take their place. This process turns your complexion from dull and dry to bright, vibrant and smooth.
Clear and spotless skin – exfoliation helps to reduce the occurrence of acne and blackhead breakouts. Think of regular exfoliation as “taking out the trash” and reducing the likelihood of clogged pores and acne.
Reduced pore size- when pores become clogged, they appear larger, which is the last thing we all want. Exfoliation helps in “decongesting” the pores, which then diminish in size and allow your skin a healthy polished glow. Washing your skin alone will not accomplish this.
Reduced fine lines and wrinkles – exfoliation helps with the many signs of aging like- rough/dry and dull skin, lines, wrinkles, age-spots etc. It reduces fine lines and wrinkles and keeps your skin much softer! With regular exfoliation, your skin will maintain its luster and shine as you age. In addition, it is the perfect solution to brighten age and sun spots.
Better absorption -as noted earlier, proper exfoliation removes the barrier of dead skin cells clogging the skin and uncovers fresh new cells beneath. This opens the way for moisturizing products to penetrate more deeply into the skin, which makes them more effective. This is also true for your sunscreen. Regular exfoliating of your face will allow your sunscreen to better protect your skin.
I am guessing that many men would be wondering if exfoliation concerns them and whether they would benefit in any way from it. Of course exfoliation helps men in a huge way: it exposes the face’s hair follicles, allowing for a better shave. Also the skin on the face of men contains larger pores, whiskers, more collagen and elastin, a denser supply of blood vessels, and it produces more sweat. Put all these factors together and their face can attract a fair amount of dirt. And so needs to be exfoliated to look fresher. Who doesn’t want to glow anyway?
If the skin on your face as well as that on the arm and legs is not as silky as you like then try this vegetable sponge, the one our grandmothers used.
Ways of using luffa
Sponge: the dried fruit fibres are used as abrasive sponges in skin care to gently loosen and slough off dead skin cells, helping you to restore your skin’s vitality and have it looking healthy and smooth.
The sponge is reusable and it works. Just gently rub any natural cleanser of your choice and lightly scrub with soft luffa. This has the advantage of whipping the exfoliating cleanser into a richer lather that gets deeper into the pores and the skin’s upper layers. Thereby improving circulation and opening pores. Sometimes whole dry luffa “sponge” is rubbed against the skin without any cleanser to remove dead skin and stimulate the skin.
Luffa charcoal: which is prepared by heating luffa fibers in a closed container and applied directly to the skin for shingles in the face and eye region. Charcoal made from luffa can also be applied externally to many skin conditions including boils.
Decoction: fibres of the dried mature fruit can be boiled in water, which is then used in facial steaming for extremely wrinkled face.
Leaf infusion: luffa can be taken by mouth to detoxify the system and help you glow inside out. 1 tablespoon of the dried leaves is infused in a teacup of boiling water for 15-30 minutes. Take 2 x daily.
Powdered luffa – is used in skin care products to reduce swelling and detoxification of the skin. For any good facial rejuvenation program, luffa is a powerful tool to consider for smoothing wrinkles and diminishing those dark eye circles, bags and facial discolorations.
Luffa juice- this also makes an excellent topical mask for dealing with wrinkles, dark spots and uneven facial discoloration. The best way to collect the juice is to cut the vein and let the liquid drip into a jar, and then applying it topically to the face while fresh.
Luffa soap: this is a natural soap that includes dried fibrous part of the luffa plant, finely ground luffa seeds and honey. Help your skin to feel smooth, soft, and moisturized with every wash using this cleansing soap that gently exfoliates.
Luffa oil: the oil extracted from seeds of this amazing herb helps the skin to recover its normal lipid composition. The oil is a rich emollient that adds smoothness and softness to the skin. In cosmetics, the oil is used in sunscreen, antifungal, anti inflammatory and anti tumor products. Luffa oil contains moisturising elements being utilised in many anti aging cosmetics, nowadays.