In 2019, a debate over proper shower technique raged across the web. Some insisted that simply letting soap run down your body would suffice to wash away dirt and grime. Others recoiled at the idea that there are people out there who don’t thoroughly clean themselves with a washcloth or loofah. Still others argued that soap is bad for your skin, period. Secondhand advice from dermatologists was produced; actual dermatologists weighed in; race, class, culture, and privilege were invoked. It was all over within a week.
Other than observing the furor, I did not get involved in this discussion because I had already planted my flag, and any attempts to sway me to the opposite camp are futile. I need to scour myself like I’m a stainless-steel skillet coated with years of cooked-on grease stains. I don’t do it every day (overexfoliating can be just as detrimental as never exfoliating!), but two or three times a week, I scrub myself from the top down, starting with my neck and ending with the space between my toes. I am psychologically compelled to perform this ritual in order to meet my personal standards of cleanliness, dermatological debate be damned.
The tool I use for the task is the Salux, a Japanese exfoliating towel with a texture that’s just slightly softer than steel wool. Made from a blend of nylon and polyester, it was originally invented in 1966 and won the Japanese Invention Award in 1974, information I found on Wikipedia — yes, this washcloth is so popular in Japan that it has its own Wikipedia page. I first discovered the Salux while lurking on Skin-Care Reddit, with scores of commenters calling it “amaaaaaaazing” and “the best thing I ever did for my skin.” Curious, I gave it a try — and became an instant devotee.
The first time I used the Salux, I could see actual gobs of dead skin balling up and sloughing away. Proceed with caution if you have sensitive skin because this level of exfoliation is not for the faint of heart; you will definitely feel like a wooden dresser being rubbed down with 100-grit sandpaper. (For this reason, the Salux should not come anywhere near your face — it’s for below-the-neck use only!) This thing is abrasive, but that’s what makes it so effective: It doesn’t just scrape away at the superficial top layer of skin but will disinter months of accumulated epidermal debris. Now that I use it regularly, the results are no longer quite as dramatic, but I still step out of the shower feeling a few pounds lighter from all the dead skin cells I’ve shed. I always make sure to give myself a cursory scrub with the Salux before shaving, and while my razor used to catch on rough spots and nick me, now it’s smooth sailing all the way. After my shower, I follow up with a moisturizing lotion, and I swear my body has the same silky slipperiness as a dolphin.
And the lather … the lather! It’s divine. I’ve used the Salux with a variety of bodywashes of all different textures — from thin Cetaphil cleansers to creamy shea-butter soaps — and it coaxes a rich, foamy, invigorating lather out of all of them. It can also be used by itself as a form of dry brushing, and though the process is just as stimulating for your blood circulation, I find that the presence of thick, frothy suds really makes me feel as though the towel is doing something.
Never again will I trust any exfoliating implement except the Salux. While loofahs are apparently bacterial breeding grounds, the Salux is far more sanitary, as the nylon fabric air-dries quickly and completely. It doesn’t mildew or retain odor, and it can easily be tossed into the washing machine. Thanks to its generous size, I find it superior to Korean scrubbing mitts for accessing hard-to-reach spots like my back. If you don’t have a lot of flexibility, you’re not going to be able to cover every inch of skin with the mitts, but at 35 inches long, the Salux makes it easy to scrub away without resorting to awkward contortions.
The Salux is not merely a bath accessory; it is an agent of metamorphosis. When I emerge from the warm, steamy bathroom, my skin as soft and tender as a newborn babe’s, I am enacting my own private cycle of rebirth and reincarnation. If you are craving change in your life (or at least in your skin-care routine), consider the Salux washcloth. You will enter the shower as one person and exit — raw and lobster-red — as a brand new one.
The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.