Clay masks are quick, effective treatments that fit into a busy schedule and do not require the expert hands of a facialist. Regardless of your skin type, a clay mask can be beneficial. They stimulate circulation, deep cleanse and detoxify, refine the texture of the skin, and even help heal blemishes. However, to be truly effective and not cause any irritation, the clay must match your skin type, as they have different properties that stimulate different responses in the skin.
Normal Skin Types
Normal skin may benefit from a deep-cleansing, stimulating mask. White clay, also known as Kaolin, and Rose Clay (pink kaolin colored by naturally occurring iron oxides) are great options for this skin type. Rich in calcium, magnesium, zinc and silica, they are some of the mildest clays, but they effectively absorb dirt and excess oil from the skin, and stimulate the lymphatic system.
Another clay that works well for normal skin types is Fuller’s Earth. It is a stronger, highly stimulating clay recommended for drawing impurities out of the skin. A few great Kaolin-based masks are Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask and the MV Skincare Signature Mineral Mask. An effective Fuller’s Earth-based mask is the May Lindstrom Problem Solver.
Sensitive & Mature Skin Types
Sensitive and mature skin types can safely use clay masks, but only the more mild ones, such as Rhassoul Clay (also known as Red Clay), in order to prevent skin irritation. Rhassoul (which in Arabic means “the matter which washes”) is imported from Morocco. Compared to the other clays, Rhassoul has a higher mineral content, with a composition rich in silica, iron, potassium, magnesium and calcium. It cleanses, purifies and detoxifies the skin, removing dead skin cells and revealing a fresher complexion, making it an excellent option for more mature skin.
Oily and Acne-Prone Skin Types
The most recommended clay for oily and acne-prone skin types is French Green Clay, also called Sea Clay. It is the strongest clay available, as it has excellent oil-absorbing, detoxifying and even antibacterial properties. It effectively helps with healing blemishes and can be used as a spot treatment as well. Because of its mineral-rich composition, this clay also refines the texture of the skin, leaving it smoother.
Dry Skin Types
Even dry skin types may benefit from clay masks. A milder type of clay like Kaolin or Rhassoul would be the best option. However, in order to prevent your skin from getting more dry, add a few drops of oil to your mask mix, such as Sweet Almond oil (together with water and clay). You can also spray your favorite facial mist or floral water on your skin while you have your mask on, to prevent the mask from drying quickly. Make sure to remove the mask before it dries out completely.
How to Use a Clay Mask
- Cleanse your skin with a gentle cleanser before you apply a face mask. This will help the mask penetrate the skin better and be more effective.
- Use a clean bowl, possibly made of glass or ceramic, and pour 1 part of clay and 1 part of purified water, or if you prefer, use a flower water, such as rose water. You may also choose to add other ingredients such as raw honey, oils or yogurt to the mix.
- Mix the ingredients until you achieve the consistency of paste.
- Apply to the skin with a face mask brush or a cosmetic spatula.
The average time to keep a mask on the skin is usually recommended around 10-15 minutes. However, once the mask begins to dry, and before it has completely dried and has become hard and uncomfortable, remove it with a warm, wet face towel. It is very important that clay masks are removed before they dry completely, because after the active phase, they start to suck moisture out of the skin and can be dehydrating. Follow with a hydrating, balancing face mist and a serum of your choice.
You can expect a light pink flush on your skin after you remove your mask. However, if you experienced any discomfort, you should immediately remove the mask and contact your health provider/dermatologist. Very sensitive skin types should patch test before applying it to the face.
Photo credits: Lilly Wallace