They come in beautiful colors, from all over the world, and provide a myriad of benefits to the skin. The most popular and beneficial clays come from France, although many good ones are sourced from Australia, Morocco, the Middle East, Southern Europe and even from the US. They contain high amounts of minerals and are sold purified specifically for cosmetic use.
But despite their popularity did you know they're not for everyone? Learn how to properly apply a clay mask, who should benefit from it and which clay to use for your skin.
Who should and shouldn't use clay masks?
The belief that clay masks are for everyone and every skin type is quite a myth no one knows where it really started. The reality is only oily or combination skins should use clay masks, while dry irritated skins should steer away from them, as they can irritate and dry the skin even more.
What should be the proper way to apply a clay mask?
First and foremost, completely remove all traces of makeup. If you're wearing makeup, use a good makeup remover to completely get rid of it. Next, cleanse your face with warm water and a foaming cleanser or facial soap to eliminate all traces of makeup remover, leftover makeup and impurities. You want to apply a clay mask on a really clean face. The warm water will soften the plugs within the pores (contrary to the internet, pores do not open nor close). It helps to steam your complexion prior to the application of the clay mask if pores are too compacted.
Second, apply the clay mask evenly all over the face, neck and décolleté as per the manufacturers instructions. Avoid the skin around the eyes at all cost. This skin is quite thin and can get damaged easily. Some clay masks like BVO's clay masks, provide double performance, a scrubbing/exfoliating action and clay mask, while others don't offer any scrubbing benefits. If the mask you're applying is also an exfoliant, make sure to scrub in circular motion while applying it.
Third, let the mask completely dry on your skin if you can (recommended), otherwise remove as the thinner layers dry up.
Fourth, to properly remove the mask just splash enough warm water on face and with the fingertips give a gentle massage scrubbing in circular motion until the clay is completely re-hydrated, rinse off and pat dry with a face towel. Do not use any soap or cleanser after or to remove it.
Fifth, apply a toner to prepare your skin for the best absorption of moisturizers or facial oils. Not all toners are formulated equally and some although called toners, are just refreshing waters formulated to provide some temporary hydration to the skin. At By Valenti Organics we have formulated toners specifically for this purpose.
Sixth, after the toner has dried or evaporated from your skin, apply a light layer of moisturizer or facial oil. Don't over do it. You should aim to replenish the skin rather than smother it.
Do not apply makeup for at least 12-24 hours.
How long should a clay mask be left on the skin and why should I let it dry completely?
Contrary to the many cosmetologists, a clay mask should be left until it completely dries on the skin. This is when the clay absorbs the most, pulling both debris from inside the pores and excess oils. The belief that a clay mask will also absorb all the moisture off the skin drying it even more isn't quite accurate. Yes, some moisture along with sebum, dirt and dead skin cells will be absorbed by the mask, but by following with toner and moisturizers, the skin will immediately regain all the little moisture it has lost.
During the application of a clay mask an exchange happens, the skin absorbs the minerals from the clay which provide that radiant look we all love, while the clay absorbs the excess oil and impurities from the skin. When they aren't allowed to completely dry the exchange doesn't happen, resulting in a poor experience and little results.
How many times a week should I apply a clay mask?
Clay masks shouldn't be applied daily. It's recommended they be applied no more than 1-2 times a week. More often and they could irritate the skin. Less than that and no benefits would be visible.
Which clay mask should I use?
Green Clays: Particularly French Green Clay or Montmorillonite Clay, is the most absorbent of all clays. Recommended for oily and acne prone skins, it helps remove dirt, excess oil and debris from deep down pores.
White/Gray Clays: Bentonite, Fullers Earth, Kaolin and others, are mostly recommended to replenish loss of minerals in the skin and to remove excess oil. Recommended for combination skins, it helps remove absorb excess oil without exacerbating sebum production.
Red/Pink Clays: Rhassoul, Australian Red, French Pink and others, are mostly used to provide complexion with a smooth finish.
Black Clays: Like Australian Black Clay, are mostly recommended for acne prone skin, for its deeply cleansing properties.
Clay Masks DIY
Making your own clay mask formulation isn't hard. After selecting the clay for your skin, add a few drops of your favorite or nourishing oil, like almond or jojoba, and a few drops of essential oil. Slowly add lukewarm water while mixing until achieving a nice smooth consistency. For an exfoliating effect, add some poppy seeds. Apply immediately using a brush or with your fingers.