Silkworm Cocoons

Silkworm Cocoons

cocoon 1 cocoon 2

Here’s another piece of beauty wisdom from Japanese grandmas – using the cocoons of silkworms as a method of deep cleaning and exfoliating the skin.

There’s a long history of small scale silkworm farming in Japan, with the silk being used for kimono fabric, and the inner bark of the mulberry trees, whose leaves the silkworms feed on, turned into traditional washi paper.

In the old days, every aspect of this joint production was carefully linked, and nothing was wasted, not even the old cocoons kept back from the silk spinners to ensure a new batch of worms the next year. Cleaned and dried, these are apparently a traditional way to keep your skin soft and clean, with the added bonus of stimulating collagen production and transferring a protein called sericin from the cocoon onto your skin.

Silkworm farming is dying out in Japan, and kimono silk is mostly produced overseas, but there are still Japanese silkworm cocoons to be had and they make for a novel beauty treat.

The idea is to soak the hollow cocoon in very hot water until it softens slightly, then stick your finger inside and rub it in gentle circles over your cleansed face, then moisturise. The cocoon can be used several times before discarding, and apparently the best time to try it is whilst steaming in the bath.

Having been totally horrified by the writhing worms whilst visiting a silkworm farm in Japan, I had to concentrate very hard to keep that image out of my mind whilst I tried this. I found that the cocoon did not soften as much as I had been expecting, but that it did work fairly well as a gentle exfoliator, leaving my skin nice and soft. Maybe there is something to those old wives remedies…