Look through a woman’s beauty products and you’ll see powders, creams, soaps, sprays, gels, spritzes, and a thousand other things! And believe it or not, each one has it’s own applicator to go with it: brushes and sponges and pads and blenders and cloths and loofahs and more! But when it comes to skin care, there’s one tool that will make you feel happier than all the rest, and that’s a sea sponge.
Sea sponges are actual creatures that come from the sea. Although technically an animal (like a soft coral), they live a lot like a plant. They grow under water and filter water for nutrients, growing in little tufts and spires all over the place. By the time they get to you, these tufts have been harvested by divers, cleaned, trimmed and dried. But don’t worry about the sponges. Harvesting a piece of sponge in the ocean is actually a lot like pruning a tree. The base of the sponge replicates itself and continues to grow and the cutting actually stimulates it to grow faster than it was, as well as scattering tons of spores into the water like seeds being tossed around the ocean floor. This makes sea sponges a perfectly sustainable, renewable resource. It takes very little energy to harvest and process them, and they grow back much faster than we use them!
So how do you use these sponges? Well that’s simple. You can use a sea sponge the same way you would use any other sponge. Their uses range from sinks and showers to automobiles and horses. But for our purposes, let’s consider the sea sponge as it is used for beauty.
The two most common uses of sea sponges for your body are as the lathering and scrubbing utensil in the shower for your body and face and as pads for makeup application. Because there are different types of sea sponges, it’s important to choose the right one for whichever job you’d like it to do.
The three main types of sea sponge that you would use for body washing are called yellow, wool, or grass. Each one of these is very absorbent and long lasting. They provide a perfect level of softness and gentle exfoliation and naturally create a wonderfully thick lather from your soap. They are comforting, completely non-toxic and hypoallergenic. For this reason they are popular as a baby and child bathing tool. The fourth type of natural sea sponge sold for skin use is called a ‘silk’ sponge, and this is what you should use for any makeup application. Silk is the densest of all of the natural sponges, with very small pores. This makes it ideal for smoothing and blending foundation or concealer or applying any serum or toner. An all-purpose sponge, this can also be used with soap as a gentle facial exfoliator that won’t overly stress or scratch sensitive skin.
It’s important when using a natural sponge to make sure that you are taking proper care of it. Sponges should be thoroughly rinsed and dried between each use in order to maximize longevity. The rinsing and drying is also important because generic sponges are known to be a source of bacterial growth in the home. For this reason, synthetic sponges, which were made to mimic these amazing natural sponges, are penetrated through with the chemical triclosan as an antibacterial agent. Although great for ensuring the sterility of a manufactured sponge, triclosan has been proven to be dangerous to human health in certain circumstances. These synthetic sponges not only spread harmful chemicals to your skin, but they also pollute the environment as they break apart and enter water sources and the ground.
Natural sea sponges, on the other hand, are completely free of triclosan or any other chemical, and yet they contain natural enzymes that help to combat bacterial growth. Proper care allows these enzymes to do their job, as well as lengthening the lifetime of a sponge that is naturally biodegradable. Because sponges are natural, and not man-made, they are completely biodegradable and safe for the environment. When they break down, it is no different than if they were still in the ocean breaking down as a natural part of life. No toxic off-puts or non-biodegradable pieces are left.
So if you’re ready to switch from your synthetic option to what Mother Nature has to offer, you will find a much more satisfying and luxurious tool than you’ve ever used before. Not sure who to go with? Here are some of the best options:
If you’re not sure where to start in the natural sea sponge world, then we recommend the SeaSationals sampler pack. You can try one wool, one yellow, and one Caribbean grass sponge, each in a nice, 6”-7” bath version. This will give you a good idea of what level of exfoliation you prefer. Wool is the softest, yellow in between, and Caribbean grass is the most abrasive.
Only Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation certified divers harvest these sponges, and they always harvest by hand. Each one comes from the warm waters of Florida and the sponges are hand trimmed to retain their delightful, natural shape. SeaSationals recommends rinsing the sponges regularly in a solution of either baking soda and water, vinegar and water, or hydrogen peroxide and water and then letting them completely air dry. This will help them to last longer, with a typical sponge lasting between 3-5 months, and the wool sponge lasting up to a year. But don’t worry when your sponge starts to look tired. Once its not giving you the joy and bliss that it once did, you can replace the one in the shower and use the older one in a hundred different ways around your house.
Mother Ocean Naturals
Another great option is to head straight for the ever-popular wool sea sponge, and Mother Ocean Naturals sells a great one. Their sponges come specifically from Tarpon Springs, Florida, commonly known as the sea sponge capital of the world. They comes in a variety of sizes, with the 4”-5” being very popular as a travel sponge and the 5”-6” more common for every day use.
The Mother Ocean Naturals wool sponge is completely organic and loaded with the natural enzymes that inhibit mold, mildew, and bacterial growth. The pores and canals of these wool sponges also make them very effective at self-cleaning. They can be completely full of soap one minute and then thoroughly rinsed out and ready to dry the next.
The third option would be The Natural Sea Sponge. This sponge comes in three sizes: 6”-7”, 7”-8”, or 8”-9”. Like all natural sea sponges, this product feels very hard when it arrives, because it is dry, but quickly softens when saturated with water. Sea sponges hold significantly more water than synthetic sponges do and this one is no exception. The 8-9” variety could double as a towel it’s so absorbent!
This company’s sponges have been mildly bleached, ensuring that they are 100% sterile and free of sea-life, but testing shows absolutely no bleach residue. If sterility is your passion, this is a good choice, and you can be confident as well that bleach sensitive people will be unaffected. These sponges are also firmer than a wool sponge and offer a slightly more aggressive exfoliation for those who prefer a slightly rougher wash, although they do soften with use.
So whatever your choice, if you’re looking for the perfect blend of softness, eco-friendliness, and luxury, a natural sea sponge will make you feel like the environmentally-friendly king or queen of the world. It will keep your skin soft and smooth and be gentle enough to use on a baby.
Ditch your synthetic, and go try nature’s best.