Before there was BB cream or cushion compacts, before the 10-step skin-care routine swept the country, Koreans were mad about exfoliation. So while others may turn to fine terry-cloth wands and high-tech sonic cleansing devices to shed their winter skin, my mind has called up the Korean washcloth, a simple exfoliating mitt that does the trick at 80 cents a pop.
Korean washcloths are a longtime staple among many women of Asian descent. The coarse surface of the cloth exfoliates as it cleans the skin. Think of it as a fabric loofah that makes skin luminous.
It took two decades, but I’ve finally come to appreciate the brutal simplicity of the Korean washcloth—especially when repairing my legs after a long, dry winter. A few tips to consider: Scrub only after a long soak, which softens the skin, then wet the mitt and apply a soothing soap. Green mitts are the standard, while other cloth colors come in varying degrees of strength, pink being the softest and blue being the most abrasive. Exfoliate your body just once a week, at most, and avoid the face. Above all, please spare the children. Eventually, they’ll come around.
“My mom was the first one who taught me the importance of exfoliation. When I was a kid, she put Korean washcloths in all our bathrooms. These washcloths weren't your typical soft, cotton washcloths that most Americans use. These washcloths felt like sandpaper and were meant to create major exfoliation. If you used them everyday, your skin would end up as one big abrasion! Although these washcloths were too aggressive for my baby-soft skin, they did open my eyes to the importance of exfoliating our entire bodies. Now I have one in my shower, which I use several times a week and love it (my wife does, too).”