You may already know this, but exfoliation really is next to godliness. If you are too lazy to do more than one simple thing to make the skin on your face and body look and feel better, that thing should be exfoliation. The shedding of excess skin works just as well for us humans as it does for our snake brethren.
Snakes shed their skin naturally because they outgrow it -- and I think humans should do the same. We just have to get our shed on manually!
When I first heard about the Baiden Mitten, I was intrigued. According to the woman who brought it to the US, it’s a skin-exfoliating device that allegedly dates back to the Ottoman Empire in Turkey and was commonly used by women in harems who visited the ancient bathhouses. (Also called hamams.) Some of which are still standing today!
The history of women in harems is not quite as glam as some would think -- harem life was a form of slavery, with many women being born into the life as a by-product of rape. It was a life of intense boredom and danger, punctuated by luxurious excursions to bathhouses and bazaars under heavy guard.
Harems were outlawed in Turkey around 1909, but the false assumption that they were some sort of glamorous existence persists to this day. One thing is certain -- the women in those harems knew a skin secret that you are about to be clued into as well.
I feel like my skin has been sort of drab, dull and dry these days, but I couldn't put my finger on exactly why. I go to the Korean imjilbang (day spa) for a soak and a scrub as often as I can, but that gets expensive real quick, and also who has the time? The idea of performing the same ritual at home was intoxicating and alluring.
Then I quickly realized the Baiden Mitten was almost FIFTY DOLLARS, and I became a little skeptical. $48.97 for a glorified scrubbie? Luckily I charmed Jane into paying for it so I could properly investigate and report back to you.
I ordered the mitten on a Saturday and it was on my doorstep by Tuesday. I’ll warn you in advance that when you first visit the Baiden Mitten website, you may be very, very unsure. The Baiden Mitten is clearly a labor of love for the woman whose grandmother passed its secrets down to her. The website is a slight jumble of claims that you won't ever have to use moisturizer again (yeah, right!) and rambling how-to videos. But soldier on, because I kinda do believe this crazy thing really is worth the money.
Here is what the Baiden Mitten purports to do: roll giant lizard hunks of dry, dead skin off your body in sheets as shown.
And guess what? That's exactly what it does. The instructions for use say to give it a whirl after a 15-20 minute soak in a hot bath. The bathtub at my house is a total nightmare, so I had to take my Baiden Mitten to the local Korean spa to try it out properly the first time.
I've had the experience of the spa attendants getting enough dead skin off my body via scrubbing to make a small Chihuahua, but the idea that I could do it myself never occurred to me. Nor did I think ahead far enough to put my phone in a Ziploc bag so I could use it to take pictures in the wet room. But damn if I didn't roll all sorts of gross, dead skin off of what I thought was my perfectly clean, well-exfoliated body.
The Baiden Mitten is made of some sort of all-natural, unbleached tree fiber. (My research tells me it's palm root but shhhhhh.) I've bought the cheap nylon scrubbie mitts they sell at the Korean spa, but they cannot even begin to compare to the Baiden Mitten.
I've never had the skin-sloughing success with the cheapie mitts that I had with the Baiden Mitten. Plus they are very small, and the Baiden is HUGE -- bigger than your whole hand. You can scrub your entire body in half the time it takes to use a tiny, cheap-o scrubbie.
The manufacturer says the Baiden Mitten will last 2+ years, and trust me, I was replacing those cheap nylon mitts every month or so. That's the point at which the $48.97 price starts not to seem so crazy.
After I used the Baiden Mitten twice, (once at the spa and once after a long shower) it was obvious that the skin on my face, arms, and legs was somehow brighter, less dull, and more even. After 3 more uses over a week or so, I felt it was akin to some pretty expensive microdermabrasion sessions I've had over the years. It's not even something I can capture properly with my camera, it's more of a luminosity and a softness that I can just feel. I thought I took really superb care of my skin until I finally used this thing.
Your face is where the Baiden Mitten really shines -- but beware of getting too zealous the first time you scrub. I gave myself a pretty good grazing on my RAZOR SHARP MODEL CHEEKBONES, WHOOPS!
Don't worry, though -- you will quickly find the exact right amount of pressure to use and be super stoked at the results.
I think to really get the full effect of the Baiden Mitten, you have to use it exactly as directed the first few times -- after a long, hot soak in the tub. A frantic warm shower when you are late for work doesn't give the same crazy-good results you get when you've really let steam and hot water loosen everything up. After your first few soaks though, it's brilliant to use as a quick maintenance tool. It's abrasive yet somehow soft and gentle at the same time. You never get as much skin off as you did the first time, but that's the whole point! You are keeping that lizard skin at bay.
The Baiden Mitten is also great for preventing ingrown hairs on your bikini line or underarms. Regular exfoliation of these areas keeps the hairs from curling back under the skin, which is the root cause of ingrown hairs. It even smoothed a few "chicken skin" bumps I've had on the backside of my arm for quite some time.
To employ a bit of hyperbole, I believe the Baiden Mitten to be the Rolls Royce of exfoliating devices. While you may be able to make do with something lesser, this thing rocks. I'm not disappointed one single bit, and have already ordered one to be sent to my mom. This testing out of products for you guys is getting a little expensive! But I think you're totally worth it.
I'm on Twitter: @IveyAlison.
[Edit: An original version of this story was entitled "Get Soft, Glowing Skin Like A Harem Girl With This $50 Skin Exfoliating Mitten "]