Beauty Ritual | Korean Exfoliation

You know you are part of someones close circle of girl trust when she shares with you her holy grail beauty product, and it only costs $1 and is pretty easily attainable and nobody except people ‘in the know’ know about this little miracle despite it being so damn cheap. Well I’m going to share with you my life changing beauty find for free guys, cause I loves ya! Share this post with your girlfriends though because they deserve to know this one too. So tempting to keep these finds secret like my grandmother would have, but I like to share. 

 Ever notice how Koreans have the most magnificent skin, all glowey and smooth and soft? Have you also noticed elderly Korean ladies at the community centre pool spending hours in the hot tub and steam room and then having elaborate exfoliation rituals in the communal shower? I’ve noticed this so many times during our swimming lessons because I live in an area with a large Korean community but I had no idea what it was about. Now I know! I was looking at body exfoliation cloths (the nylon knit type) to deal with dry skin and visible hair follicles. I then came across something online called the Baiden Mitten which promises to roll all your dry dead skin cells off in a very disgusting way – but it costs $50. I was intrigued enough to do research on this Baiden Mitten. Buried in the reviews I found the suggestion for Korean ‘Italian Towel’ which runs about $1 and is essentially the same material (viscous/cellulose/rayon). Apparently this material creates the right kind of friction with your wet skin to just roll off all your dead skin cells. This is what is used in Korean Spas where they exfoliate your entire body until your skin is like a newborn baby, and this is what I’ve seen used at our community centre shower. You get strips of grey dry skin just flying off you like lint. You can find these cloths on eBay and on amazon but I have a couple of Korean grocery stores in my area so a few days ago I decided to pick one up and try it out. 

The process is this: You soak in a hot bath (or sauna I guess) for an absolute minimum of 20 minutes without any soap or product or washing. If you get pruney skin, that is better. Just soak. You can also close your window and block the bottom of your door to keep the steam in. After 20 minutes you step out of the bath and pat dry. You then use your damp but rung out Italy Cloth by rubbing your skin up and down vigourously. Some areas will respond better to circular motion but long up and down is best. The longer you’ve soaked the better the friction you get, and as you dry your waterlogged skin comes off easier and easier. you will start to see your skin pilling and collecting and sloughing off. It’s uncomfortable and rough and kind of disgusting but when you’ve done your entire body your skin is like you’ve never felt it before. Incredibly soft and dewey.  There are areas of your skin that won’t ‘shed’ but then there are areas that will shed like crazy like your butt, or underbar area, knees, hips etc. After this process you MUST put on moisturizing body oil or lotion and let your skin air dry a bit. Besides soft skin, the benefits I’ve noticed are much less obvious hair follicles, no ingrowns (I have issues with that), no clogged pores or rough chicken skin, no ashy or dusty looking skin or weird crocodile lines on my shins.  This is all beyond regular loofa or exfoliation gloves or BHA, Glycolic or Urea creams, this is next level exfoliation! If you do self tanning or your get bumps from waxing you have got to try this. Let me know if you do because I want to know how amazing this find was for you. 

Vogue article: Why I Can’t Live Without My Korean Exfoliating Mitt

Here are listings for Italy Cloth on eBay and Italy Cloth on Amazon, but just check to see if your neighbourhood has a Korean grocer nearby and call them and ask if they have Italy Cloths. 

See Also
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Such a cheaply made, unassuming dinky little cloth. Another thing to note is these are small pocket cloths that shrink when they get wet. You are supposed to put them over your four fingers like a tiny mitt, not your entire hand. This keeps it from slipping off your hand. 

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  • YEP! I was in Seoul for work and went to one of those "traditional Korean bath houses". Nothing compares to what we have here in the US. It was super clean and the women didn't speak a lick of English but knew exactly what I needed. It was uncomfortable at first with all these naked Korean ladies around me (I'm caucasian) and the way they stared at my blonde hair LOL. However, the whole process was amazeballs. I was on a 2 week work trip and ended up going to this bath house twice. I came back to CT like a new born baby. I swear my skin and face was softer than my 8 month old niece. I bought a bunch of those towels. I got a facial at a different place and it wasn't as cheap as I thought but man those Korean women knew how to handle my face!! Thanks for posting this. I have a few Korean and Chinese friends and they said they use these towels once a week!! How come they never shared with me? They said it's because it's pretty painful and thought I couldn't handle it.

    • There are korean public bath houses in big cities in US. I'm sure you'll be able to find some in vancouver area as well.
      Anyway, this posting is so cute. I loved reading it!

    • OMG I just found a Jimjibang Spa in my neighbourhood and people from all over metro Vancouver come to this one. Apparently Friday nights are Russian night and the Russians bring their banya birch branches.

  • ok, I ordered some from your amazon link. but now- what about facial exfoliation? what do they use for that??

    • I wouldn't use it on your face, or if you do do it very gently without attempting to remove old skin. I just use glycolic and BHA's on my face.

  • Thanks so much for sharing Lulumum! I use one of those round synthetic bath pouf sponges with bath and shower gel every day but I'm thinking I could do with something extra for even better exfoliation (I get those visible hair follicles and ingrown hairs too, which I hate, never used to get visible hair follicles but have been noticing this becoming a problem as I get older). Just wondering how often are we supposed to do this for best results?

    • Oops, I didn't read the article you posted a link for before asking my question above. I see that it says no more than once per week for your body and never use it on your face.

    • Yes I've always used one of those round poofs but it didn't exfoliate me to this level.
      From what I've read it's recommended once per week.

  • I read this in the middle of the night, feeding baby, so I'm sorry if it's been stated but can these be reused or is it a one time use? Thanks so much. I love wellness tips!

  • My mom used to make me do this once a month as a kid, but we only used the mitts for the shower. There's a longer version of this cloth that I fold multiple times (about 2"x4") so I can have a more controlled grip. I don't exfoliate as often anymore because it's annoying to clean the tub afterward!

  • I actually do use these on my face, but very lightly. However, I also use it to scrub off dark hair color stains around the edges of my face after I've touched up the gray with dark brown hair color… 🙂

  • LOL! I'm Korean and grew up using this. As a child, I have memories of my grandmother scrubbing my skin with this while taking a very hot bath My skin is very soft to this day probably because of this. I have bought the longer ones which is great for getting the back. They seem to be cheaper at the Korean markets, but amazon seems fairly priced (Asian store is still cheaper). LOL

  • Taking a light shower with soap before start soaking makes easier to exfoliate, because it's not easy to exfoliate greasy skin. This is not easy to do in a western style bathroom, but you can do it in a korean public bathhouse.

  • I am looking for a pair of runtimes shorts in tranquil blue ace spot from last summer in a size 6 if anyone has some they would like to sell. I don't have Facebook and run times are hard to find! Thanks!

  • Yes reusable. But they are cheaply made so I'm sure after several uses you'd get another one. Pack of 3 is $3

    • It's not too bad. A bit more rough and intense than a scrub mitt/loofa but as red as your skin gets (and I have very sensitive skin) you don't have sore skin after. The worst parts are armpits and sides of ribs, inner thighs.

  • Iranian super markets might have this too (ask for "kee se" for "hammam", my mom uses it the exact way you describe and she has amazing skin and looks at least 20 years younger than her age 🙂

  • I grew up with these when I was a kid!! I remember it was very painful but my mom always made me to wash myself with this. If it's too painful to use it for the FIRST TIME, use it with little bitzy of soap with it. Less painful. 🙂
    Those 'italy towel' (i wonder where this name came from though lol) will get soften over times and you will live more!!

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