What is luffa?: Types and benefits

Luffa (also spelled loofah) is perhaps one of nature’s best-kept skincare secrets. It is essentially a plant with tough fibers that is used to create all types of sponges, most notably exfoliating sponges that gently remove dead skin cells without irritating the skin. Exfoliation is key to maintaining that youthful, healthy glow we’re all after. Read on to find out more about the different types of luffas, their benefits and much more.

Types of luffa

Luffa encompasses two different species of gourd. One is Luffa aegyptiaca, commonly called angled luffa, ridged luffa, vegetable gourd or Chinese okra, and the other is Luffa acuntangular, generally referred to as smooth luffa, dishrag gourd, gourd luffa or Egyptian luffa. They are often used interchangeably and their difference lies only in their look, with angled luffa displaying long ridges and smooth luffa having a rounder appearance with shallow creases. The luffa plant grows as vines with yellow flowers and, as a member of the gourd family, it is somewhat related to pumpkins, squashes, cucumbers and melons. 

How luffa is grown

In order to obtain luffa sponges, the fruit of the vine is allowed to ripen until it turns dry and yellow-brown and simply peeled to reveal the fibrous tissue underneath The seeds are removed, the sap is washed out with water and the luffa is left to air dry. That’s it. It really is that natural. It has no harsh chemicals or synthetic products and it is fully biodegradable. 

Benefits of luffa

As a completely natural sponge, luffa has a number of skincare benefits. Its fibrous texture gently exfoliates the skin without scratching it or causing chemical-induced irritation, removing dead skin cells that can build up on the surface of the skin and make it look dull or rough and letting the healthy skin underneath breathe and absorb any moisturizers you apply to it. Gentle luffa exfoliation will make your skin feel smooth, light, clean and radiant. Just make sure to let your luffa sponge dry fully between showers and replace it every three or four weeks to avoid bacteria buildup. Who needs makeup when they’ve got the natural power of luffa? 

A long, luxurious bath with a luffa sponge also has noticeable effects on your mood. The gentle, exfoliating massage it offers improves blood circulation, making you feel energized and invigorated. Like any massage, it also reduces muscle tension and relieves stress. A luffa sponge bath may be just what you need to get your morning started right. 

The luffa plant also has extraordinary health benefits when eaten. The idea of eating your sponge may sound strange, but in many parts of the world, the flowers and young fruit of the luffa plant are tossed into salads, sauteed, stir-fried or added to soups. Before they ripen into luffa sponges, they are harvested and used for culinary purposes. They taste much like summer squash, so if you happen to grow your own luffa plant, you might want to try substituting squash with luffa in some of your recipes. This veggie is chock-full of Vitamins A, B5, B6 and C, manganese, copper and potassium. What’s not to love about luffa? 
If this has made you hungry, check out our vegan appetizers proposals.

The Vegan Experience by Ayuna

If you want to experience the marvelous skincare benefits of luffa, book your slot for The Vegan Experience at AIRE Ancient Baths. This 150-minute session is sponsored by Ayuna, a 100% vegan brand that promotes conscious living through the use of natural products, and features a 15-minute exfoliating massage with luffa that will gently buff away all your unwanted dead skin. Afterwards, you will receive a 45-minute full-body massage with Ayuna’s exclusive, vegan creme made of sweet almonds, olives and Ayuna’s “Beautifulness Cocktail,” an aromatic blend of essential oils like chamomile, rosemary, myrrh, buchu, guaiacum and gurjum. The moisturizing power of this unique mix will nourish your skin naturally and restore its luminosity and elasticity. 

During the rest of the session, you will be able to tour AIRE’s thermal baths at your own pace. This signature experience harnesses the holistic healing power of baths at different temperatures, an ancient Greco-Roman tradition that has left its legacy. From cold-water baths to hot-water baths to jet baths to salt-water baths, AIRE has it all. Then hang out in the relaxation area while you cool off with an all-natural green iced tea with mint and lime. 

Take your luffa sponge home with you and experience the amazing skincare benefits that come with a regular luffa exfoliation routine. You’ll never go back to bathrags or synthetic sponges again. 

Come and try this new 100% vegan ritual at AIRE New York & AIRE Chicago.