Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Mother Nature's Best Exfoliator

This is a guest post from one of my best friends, Syrah Gilley, of The Pièce de Résistance, a chic sweets boutique that prides itself on using amazing farm fresh ingredients! She brought me the naturally grown loofah in the photo below over her weekend visit to see me in Toronto. I tried it and really loved its exfoliating abilities! Read below to see how easy it is to grow one of your own!

 First of all, I am so honored to be doing a guest post on Laylon!  It is my absolute favorite beauty blog, filled with excellent tips and honest product reviews by two very talented sisters. Thank you! I am one of those girls who is obsessed with exfoliation. I don't feel completely clean unless my skin has been buffed smooth of the grit and grime from the day.  I've always loved naturally grown loofahs because they aren't too abrasive but get the job done.  There's a natural, spa element they bring to your bubble bath that a lot of the synthetic kinds you buy in stores just don't deliver. I love growing my own because I can grow as many as I need and the idea of living off my land is so alluring to me.  I also love knowing they haven't been sprayed or treated with any chemicals I'd disapprove of.

I'd like to say I planned on creating my own homemade loofah and sought out ways to make that happen, but I didn't even know where they came from until about a year ago.  I was casually perusing the seed section at my local gardening shop, picking out my favorite herbs and veggies, when I came across a pack of Loofah Gourd seeds.  You can grow them!?  I just couldn't resist the thought of having these unique little scrubbers growing in my own garden. I planted them with the rest of my newly purchased seeds along the edge of my garden so they'd have space to spread out - though I didn't know how much.  Over the summer about 6 plants crept over  a 4' x 6' area in our yard.  By fall I had 8 magnificent Loofah Gourds and oodles of minis that didn't get quite enough time to mature.

In most climates you can wait for the first frost to kill the plant and just let them dry on the vine. Once they are completely dried, you can crack off the thick skin and voila - you have a loofah.  It will have plenty of seeds inside that you can shake out and save for next spring. I'm in Alabama though and our falls are pretty damp, which can cause them to rot before they get a chance to dry.  So after the first frost I cut them off the vine and peeled them like you would a butternut squash.  Once peeled you can "wring them out" under running water - there are seeds and a "melony" fruit between the fibrous mesh that you want to completely rinse out.  Finally, you set them in a dry place, I prefer out in the sun to whiten them a bit, to completely dry out. Scrub up! 

Mine tend to last a few months before I switch it out for a new one. This year I have started them after the last frost so they have plenty of time to grow and mature before the first frost in fall. Hopefully I'll harvest at least twice as many as last year (note: you can cut these big 8" long gourds into 2-3 loofahs if you prefer a petit size.) I've seen seeds at Lowe's every now and then, and you can always find them online. Happy planting!
 xo, Syrah Gilley
Syrah and Mary outside the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto

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