If, like us, you are concerned about the increasing number of nasties that make their way into commercial facemasks; whether it is the illegal addition of steroids, harsh preservatives or artificial fragrance and colourings, then you might want to swap to a natural alternative. Luckily, we don't have far to look. Clay has been used for hundreds of years to soothe skin ailments, detox our digestive systems and has even been used as a preservative. Most of us have heard of clay masks or baths, but what is it about clay that makes it such a popular natural detoxifier?
The Science of Clay
Clays carry with them a negative charge, while most toxins and heavy metals carry a positive one. As we may or may not remember from our science classes, negative charges are attracted to positive charges and vis versa. So, when clay comes into contact with these impurities it binds to them, preventing them from being reabsorbed into the skin. But clay doesn’t just remove the dirt and grime that builds up throughout the day, it goes a few steps further. Clay masks create and insulating barrier across the skin, causing our skin to heat up and expand. This process opens the up pores and relaxes capillaries, increasing blood flow. Once this happens, the clay can penetrate deep into the epidermis and perform its detoxing magic.
Clay is full of natural minerals that feed the skin, giving it that natural glow and shine. One of these minerals is known as silica. Not to be confused with synthetic silicone, Silica is an essential mineral needed to keep hair, teeth, nails and of course skin, healthy. It provides the building blocks for the production of collagen, which is what keeps our skin young and wrinkle free. When used regularly, the detoxing properties of clay help to reduce the overall appearance of pores and it is said to help reduce rosacea, acne and even rashes or eczema.
Of course, it’s important to bear in mind that clay masks strip away all of the oils present on the skin, the good and the bad. This makes them great for oily skin types, but it does mean that you need to use a natural balm or moisturiser afterwards, to prevent your skin from over producing oils to compensate. Many people suggest mixing the clay with something other than water, to provide moisture and/or to boost the nutritional properties of their mask. A few of them are listed below,
Apple Cider Vinegar
Suitable for - Oily Skin Types
We’ve long heard the benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar for hair, but it can also work wonders for the skin. Apple cider vinegar has anti-inflammatory properties, making it ideal for use as a toner. It has a Ph balance of around 2-3, where as our skins normal Ph is roughly 5.5. This means that when applied topically it has a drying effect on the skin, helping to strip it of excess oils. Because of this, it isn’t advisable to apply it undiluted to the skin. It is best to mix it at 1-4 parts water, at the very least. You might want to start off with 1-10 parts water at first, so your skin can get used to it.
Suitable for - Dry Skin Types
Yoghurt is full of calcium, protein, vitamin D and importantly, pro-biotics. Pro-biotics help balance the bacterial health of our skin by maintaining the microbiome; the layer of bacteria on the skins surface that helps regulate cell function and health. Studies have shown that the combination of probiotics and lactic acid present in yoghurt can help to maintain the skins moisture whilst promoting softer, younger looking skin.
Manuka – King of the Honey’s
Suitable for - Dry Skin Types
Natural, raw honey is deeply moisturising, and its anti-bacterial and anti-oxidant properties make it great in the fight against acne, blemishes and the signs of aging. Studies have shown a link between applying natural honey to the face and the lightening of darks spots and scars. With mild exfoliating properties, honey helps skin to feel soft, bright and luxurious.
Suitable for – Combination Skin Types
Jojoba oil is said to be the closest oil to our skin's natural sebum. A light, astringent oil, it is readily absorbed into the skin without block the pores, making it perfect for fighting acne or breakouts. Highly moisturising and with anti-bacterial properties, Jojoba is a great all-round oil that keeps skin looking healthy and soft.
There are so many possibilities with a clay mask, what do you like to mix yours with?