The topical use of clay as a beauty ritual traces back to the earliest civilizations.
From Ancient Egypt to Ancient Rome and even during the Renaissance, men and women used the medicinal properties of clay to achieve a brighter, smoother, and more youthful complexion.
Clay masks are now a popular beauty trend. With the amount of pollution, dirt, and grime that comes in contact with our skin on a daily basis, it is no wonder that people are looking for products that can naturally and gently deep clean their complexion.
Clay masks are a simple way for men and women to give skin a boost and provide some TLC without getting costly facials.
Why Use a Clay Mask?
Clay works wonders for our skin. You will notice a general theme evident in all of the benefits described below.
These natural ingredients can help exfoliate and soften skin, draw out impurities, minimize pores, and remove excess surface oil. It is basically the same concept as rolling a lint brush over the surface of clothing.
Although daily face-washing can help eliminate everyday skin pollutants, a natural clay mask can help draw out deep-seated impurities that normal cleansing leaves behind.
Regular use of pure cosmetic clays can help improve circulation and bring about a smooth healthy glow to the skin.
How Do Clay Masks Work?
There are two basic factors that affect how a certain clay works to cleanse and remove impurities from the skin, its Cation-Exchange Capacity (CEC) and sorptive properties.
Benefits of a Clay Mask
Quality Powdered Clay Masks are Natural
One of the major problems with today’s skincare products is that they often contain very harsh and sometimes even toxic ingredients. Ingredients like BPA, synthetic colors, synthetic fragrances, preservatives, parabens, phthalates, and others are linked to everything from skin irritation to chronic disease.
Quality clay masks are a completely natural way to cleanse, purify, exfoliate, and spruce up your skin without the use of harsh chemicals or irritating additives.
While a pre-mixed hydrated clay face mask may seem to be a time-saver, always prepare your own masks from powdered clays.
The dry mask requires you to mix the dry clay mix with a water-based liquid such as water to create a wet mask. This allows you to use a fresh mask every time. You can also customize your clay mask by adding extra natural ingredients.
A clay mask that comes hydrated in a jar requires water. In order for a pre-hydrated clay mask to have a long shelf life, there must be preservatives.
If you have sensitive skin and choose to purchase a hydrated face mask, be sure to read all the ingredients!
Provides Natural Gentle Exfoliation
Day after day, dead skin cells can accumulate on the surface of your skin, leaving it feeling rough, looking dull, and may lead to breakouts. Clay masks offer a gentle, natural way to exfoliate your skin.
The fine abrasiveness of clay particles and the natural silica found in clay can help remove the build-up of dead skin cells, allowing new, fresh skin to be exposed. This helps foster a more youthful and healthy-looking complexion.
Offers Gentle Cleansing
If your complexion is sensitive, problematic or simply feeling dull and strained, it requires a cleansing method that is effective yet gentle. The proper clay mask can gently cleanse, purify, decongest, and even soothe sensitive or irritated skin.
Increases Circulation and Oxygenation
A facial clay mask can stimulate circulation which in turn helps deliver vital oxygen to skin cells giving an energizing boost to the complexion. Properly oxygenated skin cells can help even out skin tone for a clearer complexion.
An increase in circulation can help heal and restore damaged skin and is helpful in preventing breakouts and maintaining a healthy, youthful-looking complexion.
Brightens the Complexion
Throughout the day, dirt, oil, pollution, and other impurities build-up on the surface of your skin, leaving your skin looking dull and lifeless. The lack of proper cleansing and exfoliation can lead to a sluggish complexion. Using a clay mask one or two times a week can help keep your complexion looking fresh and bright.
Unclogs and Shrinks Skin Pores
Beautiful looking skin is often equated with a minimized appearance of pores. Vanity aside, smaller pores typically indicate healthy skin. As facial pores become clogged from everyday pollution, dirt, oil, bacteria, and other impurities they become enlarged which can lead to blackheads and breakouts.
As a clay mask dries, your skin begins to tighten. The clay is "soaking up” excess oil and debris from your pores. As the facial clay mask rids pores of dirt and oil, the pores tighten and will feel and look clean which helps reduce their appearance. When pores are smaller and more refined, your skin tone will appear more even and your complexion will look clear, smooth, and healthy.
Aids in Hydration
An important component of a healthy skincare routine is moisturizing. Moisture and hydration help skin to appear smooth, supple, healthy, and youthful.
The moisture from hydrated clay masks can penetrate into the skin to induce a “plumping” effect that helps the complexion to look more smooth and youthful.
A clay face mask will also help with moisturization. By unclogging pores, a clay face mask helps the moisturizing ingredients in your face oil or cream to penetrate deeper into the skin.
If your skin feels too tight or dry after using a clay mask, be sure to follow with a moisturizer to hydrate your skin.
Regulates Sebum Production, Breakouts and Excess Shine
Our skin naturally produces oil to moisturize and protect itself – it is known as sebum.
When our skin is irritated or exposed to stress, pollution, or other impurities, it can overproduce sebum, resulting in acne, breakouts, and blemishes.
Clogged pores are the main culprits of blemishes. When dead skin cells combine with excess sebum and other impurities like bacteria, makeup, and everyday dirt, pores become congested which often results in blemishes and acne.
A clay mask can work wonders in helping to keep your complexion under control by “soaking up” excess oil from the skin’s surface and clearing out clogged pores. This not only rids skin of acne-causing impurities but also reduces surface shine and contributes to a more matte-like complexion.
Delivers Soft, Smooth, Radiant Skin
Clays contain many helpful minerals. One mineral that is abundantly found in clay is silica, an important skin-enhancing nutrient.
Silica is required to manufacture connective tissue such as muscle, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, collagen, skin, and bone.
When used topically, clays gives skin a smooth, silky appearance. Silica not only helps remove dead skin cells and debris with its gentle abrasiveness but may also provide the skin with important nutrients.
Clay masks can also help stimulate circulation which increases the oxygen supply to the skin. The increased oxygen helps the skin have a natural, healthy radiance.
Creates a Calming and Relaxing Experience
Who doesn’t love an expensive spa day? We all do of course, but not all of us have the luxury to visit the spa as often as we’d like.
Enter clay masks and their ability to upgrade any ordinary skin routine into a spa day! Not only do they work wonders on our complexion, but using clay masks is a ritual that requires you to slow down, relax and dedicate some time to yourself.
Face masks are one of life's little pleasures. Invite your friends and have a fun and relaxing spa party!
Not all Clay Masks are created equal
Clays in powder form is much better for you: hydrated clays have added water and therefore need preservatives, which we humans do not need!
Be careful of masks that offer a lot of "miraculous" ingredients and claim that they will absorb deep into the layers of your skin. The job of the outer layer of our skin, the epidermis, is to protect us from the environment. Unfortunately, this is also why it is difficult to get some ingredients to penetrate deeply. Hydrated masks that make this claim usually contain ingredients like butylene or propylene glycol, which act as solvents and delivery agents that help the skin absorb more ingredients.
Many masks also include "novelty" ingredients that may look interesting but have no dermatological benefits. Often part of the appeal of a mask is the fun list of ingredients. Be sure that you are not paying extra money for these "fun" ingredients.
Even powdered Clay Masks will vary in quality. If you are looking to purchase a clay mask, be sure the manufacturer is using only cosmetic-grade clay that is pure, without additives.
At Chagrin Valley, only pure cosmetic-grade clays are used. Although other grades of clay, like those intended for crafts or industrial applications, may be much cheaper, they are not pure and often contain added ingredients that are not skin-friendly. Cosmetic-Grade Clay has been specially refined and tested for use in personal care products.
ORGANIC NOTE: Naturally occurring clays cannot be "certified organic" by the USDA because the term "organic" is only given to ingredients that are grown or raised under organic supervision. Since naturally occurring clays are neither "grown in a field" nor raised (as with an animal), they are cannot be certified. However, at Chagrin Valley, the clays are monitored for purity by an organic certification agency!
This article originally appeared on the Chagrin Valley Soap & Salve website.