I tend to work with folks who have a lot of food and chemical sensitivities, so, naturally, I’m always on the lookout for products that work well and contain minimal chemicals/ingredients. This week, I came across a product used for exfoliation that is not only inexpensive, but requires no lotions, potions, or goo for results. Based on my reading, this product has been around since the 60s and is very popular in Korea, particularly. Those who have had a Korean massage might have experienced this product and its skin-smoothing effects. With reviews making claims like, “my skin makes a baby’s butt feel like a cactus”, I just had to give it a try (and since I’m a bridesmaid in my cousin’s July wedding anyway, this is the perfect time for a little skin-therapy).
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The Korean Italy Towel is basically a cloth that is 100% viscose (viscose has several uses, but is most commonly used to make fabrics such as rayon). Korean Italy Towels are abrasive (think sandpaper), which is why they work so well for exfoliation. Similar to sandpaper, they also come in different levels of coarseness. The pink colored towel, for example, is the least abrasive and is commonly used on the face. The green towel is the most universal and can be used on most areas of the body (except for “sensitive” or “private” areas, of course). The yellow towel is the most abrasive and I would suspect that it’s more popular among men, or for use on areas that can handle a little more exfoliation, like the feet.
The Korean Italy Towel works similarly to other exfoliation mitts, such as the Baiden Mitten. I have not used the Baiden Mitten, so I can’t attest as to whether these products are the same (the folks behind the Baiden Mitten are also not very forthcoming as to the type of material that the mitten is made from). The major difference between the Korean Italy Towel and the Baiden Mitten (that I can see, anyway) is definitely the price – I purchased the Korean Italy Towels for around $12 for a pack of 8 towels, whereas the Baiden Mitten goes for a whopping $50 or more per mitten.
Why would you use this?
Exfoliating is a great way to rejuvenate the skin. The process removes dead skin and build-up/debris from pores, making your skin feel super smooth. With regular use, it may help lessen ingrown hairs and it may help those with keratosis pilaris (those little bumps that often show up on the back of arms, thighs, butt, etc.). After exfoliating, skin tends to have a more youthful glow (it helps to get rid of that “ashy” appearance). Because it unclogs pores, it can help tackle those pesky blackheads and it can help reduce the occurrence of acne in some cases. It also helps your skin to be more accepting of other treatments (whether you’re applying a cream, lotion, oil, self tanner, etc.), so it can help make your other products more effective or be applied more evenly. Some have also reported that exfoliating can help with fine lines and wrinkles.
The benefits of using the Korean Italy Towel over other exfoliating products include:
- the cost (it’s inexpensive)
- it’s reusable
- it’s a relatively clean process (aside from the peeling skin) – it doesn’t use any messy lotion-y type things
- it could be a great option for those who are sensitive to certain ingredients/chemicals commonly found in other skincare products
Where can you get it?
I purchased these towels on Amazon – Skyroad Exfoliating Bath Mittens. I have read that these can also be purchased at local Korean stores.
How do you use it?
This product must be used when your skin is wet. For best results, you should soak for at least 15 minutes in a bathtub filled with water that’s as warm/hot as you can stand it. If you don’t have a bathtub, you can do this in the shower – make sure your skin is thoroughly drenched in warm/hot water for at least 15 minutes. For best results, no soaps, oils, or other products should be used in the tub/shower prior to exfoliating (i.e. no bubble baths).
To see whether your skin is ready for exfoliation, you can test a small area (such as the back of your hand) by rubbing the towel firmly in a back and forth motion (this may take a few passes with the towel). What you want to see is dead skin/debris starting to roll off (if you’ve ever been sunburned, it basically looks like that – your sunburned skin starts to peel and roll off, especially after showering). Only use enough pressure to get the desired affect, but do not use so much pressure that it causes pain (if you feel like you’re working really hard to get the dead skin to peel, you may need to soak longer and try again). If you’re not accustomed to exfoliating, this may cause some discomfort – you may only want to tackle small areas and work your way up.
This should go without saying, but if this causes you pain, stop immediately. Also note: if you want to exfoliate the skin on your face, be very careful – you may need to apply a little soap or facial cleanser to the towel and use VERY LIGHT, circular motions. THIS PRODUCT IS NOT FOR EVERYONE – you may want to consult with a doctor or dermatologist before using (you have been warned ;)).
If this product/procedure works well for you, in most cases it can be used once per week (do NOT use daily).
I noticed a DRASTIC improvement in the texture of my skin after the first use (like the review that I quoted above said, my skin almost feels SOFTER than a baby’s butt). I’ve always been one to use loofahs in the shower and I’ve used facial and body scrubs, as well as pumice stones (for feet) in the past. I didn’t find the process to be painful/uncomfortable at all, but then again, my skin may be a little more accustomed to exfoliation. I also suffer from ingrown hairs on my legs (from epilating, which is similar to waxing, but without the wax/mess) and I do have mild keratosis pilaris on the back of my arms – I did notice that the ingrown hairs and keratosis pilaris, though not completely gone, were much improved after the first use. I anticipate the ingrown hairs and keratosis pilaris to continue to improve with weekly use of the exfoliating towel.
I did end up using the green towel VERY gently on my face (with the addition of facial cleanser on the towel), even though the pink towel is the one that is typically recommended for facial use – I didn’t have any problems using the green towel for this application, but again, I was VERY gentle.
One thing to note about the Korean Italy Towel – it does shrink when it gets wet (it even says this right in the product listing). This is the main complaint among those who reviewed this product. I stretched the towel back out after wetting it and didn’t have a problem with it (but then again, my hands are on the smaller side). This may be a little more uncomfortable for those with larger hands (but given the low price, it’s still worth a shot, in my opinion).
The entire process took me roughly around 45 minutes (including soaking time). There are some areas that are a little more difficult to get to (like your back, obviously). I just reached around to as many areas as I could, though you could probably attach this towel to a back scrubber to get the hard to reach areas (or, better yet, have someone else do your back for you ;)).
After exfoliating, I did use a self-tanning spray (I know, I know, there are tons of chemicals in self tanning products, but like I said, I’m going to be in a wedding in a couple weeks ;)) and the tanner showed up very evenly.
If you’re looking for an effective and inexpensive exfoliating product that doesn’t require the use of chemical-laden creams, the Korean Italy Towel is definitely worth a shot.
Amanda Austin is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified LEAP Therapist who approaches health and wellness from an integrative and functional perspective. She loves a good DIY, making a mess in the kitchen, and working up a sweat. She’s also obsessed with her incredibly spoiled fur-babies, which includes a rambunctious Boston Terrier, 2 cranky house cats, and 3 boisterous chickens.