Loofahs aren’t exactly what you think they are.
There’s no better feeling than getting into the shower at the end of a long day and starting your skincare routine.
But when shopping for your shower essentials, you probably don’t think twice about the loofah you’re putting in your cart. Sure, maybe you look for a specific color, but have you ever wondered what exactly is a loofah?
Loofah sponges don’t come from the ocean and aren’t from manmade materials — the exfoliators come from dried fiber from the vegetable of the same name.
Loofah, also spelled luffa, is a plant in the cucurbitaceae family.
Yes, the cucumber family.
A loofah is a fruit.
Botanically named luffa aegyptiaca — and also referred to as vegetable sponge, sponge gourd or rag gourd — the plant is a vine-grown member of the family that also includes pumpkin, squash and gourd.
It can be cultivated and eaten as a vegetable, but the fully developed fruit is what makes up the tool used mostly in bathrooms and kitchens.
According to Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, Virginia, luffas are not your typical garden vegetable, needing plenty of sunshine, hot temperatures, sufficient amounts of water and well-drained soil. They typically grow slowly and keep maturing well into the fall season.
As the luffa begins to mature, the outer shell hardens and begins to separate from the inside fibers, and when the shell is peeled off, a spongy fiber is exposed. After the fibrous skeleton of the gourd is extracted, washed and dried, it can be used for bathing and scrubbing.
While loofahs have always been made of the cucumber-like vegetable, people are just now discovering the beauty tool’s true origin.
On a recent episode of The Basement Yard podcast, hosts Joe Santagato and Frank Alvarez debated what exactly a loofah is — and discovered in real-time that it is, in fact, a plant.
As Alvarez shared the fun fact that a loofah isn’t manmade, Santagato claimed, “I don’t know that you’re right” — which then prompted an on-air Google search that proved Alvarez correct.
Content creator Clemmie Telford posted a video saying she had her “mind blown” when she found out what a loofah is made of.
“I thought these loofahs grew at the bottom of the sea. I was wrong,” she said. “They’re some kind of dried-out cucumber type thing. Am I the last person to know this?”
People in the comments were equally as flabbergasted by the revelation.
“Wtf?! This is crazy shit 😳 im now questioning what else in my house is just an old dried up cucumber,” one person wrote.
“Um am I the only one who didn’t know they grew anywhere?! I didn’t know loofahs were natural,” another shared.
“This has made my scrolling worth it. A real learning moment!” someone chimed in.
Aside from being used as an exfoliator to remove dead skin and stimulate the skin, the luffa plant can be used in other ways for a variety of health benefits.
According to WebMD, luffa can be taken orally to treat and prevent colds or to help with sinus issues and nasal swelling. Some also use it for arthritis pain, muscle pain and chest pain. Women can use luffa to absorb menstruation or, for nursing mothers, to increase milk flow.
Luffa charcoal, made by heating the fibers in a closed container, can be used for shingles in the face and eye region by applying it directly to the skin.