Spring is here, and if you are like many people you are trying to detoxify your diet and improve your health and fitness for the summer season. Many of us are trying to shed some of our winter layers and stored fat. If you are in the process of cleansing and clearing your body a clay mask can help with the process. A detoxifying diet can cause more acne and breakouts as unwanted garbage and pollutants come up to the surface of the skin, in order to release or exit the body through the lymphatic system located under the skin. A cleansing clay mask can help remove the extra bacteria and pollutants from the skin’s surface.
Also, if you normally suffer from acne or congested skin, then a clay mask is definitely something you should consider trying to clear and deep cleanse your skin. Even if you have sensitive or dry skin, the occasional cleansing clay mask can help to revitalize and stimulate your skin and the blood cells underneath it. Clay has been used for both medicinal and aesthetic purposes for centuries, starting with the indigenous people. It was also a popular beaut treatment with both Cleopatra and Queen Nefartiti. It is once again becoming popular in spas and with alternative healers. There are many different types of clays that come from different geographical locations. Each clay has slightly different properties depending on the location in which they are formed from. No matter what your skin type, there is likely to be a clay to suit your skin’s needs.
Different types of Clays and their properties:
Bentonite Clay: The main source of this clay was found in Benton Wyoming, hence the name Bentonite clay. The clay actually was formed when a layer of volcanic ash fell into what was once upon a time a shallow in land sea. The ash filtered through sea water and collected pure minerals which then formed a layer of mineralized clay. It is also sometimes referred to as “montmorillonite clay”. The clay is grey in colour and has a light powdery even velvety texture. It is found in make-up, powders, foundations and is used to thicken lotions and to suspend pigments. It expands when water is added to it, and then becomes extremely absorbent like a sponge. As it dries it is able to absorb pesticides, herbicides, metals and free radicals. It is ideal for someone with normal or combination skin.
French Green Clay: Like the name suggests French Green Clay is from the Bedrock of quaries in France and has a soft green colour. It has enormous absorption powers due to it’s constitution. It not only absorbs all the oil and toxins from the skin, but also helps to stimulate the skin and tighten the pores. It is especially good for oily skin or congested skin. It has been used in spas and is a slightly higher price then the average clay.
Fuller’s Earth: It is known as a skin lightner and considered the best choice for those with acne or oily skin.
Kaolin Clay or White Clay: A versatile and gentle powder. It is white and is for sensitive and dry skin. Because it is more gentle than other clays it is also found powders, baths, body packs and skin care products. Much of it comes from China which is why it is sometimes referred to as China clay.
Rhassoul Clay: Like French Green Clay, this clay has been used for centuries and is of a fine spa quality. It comes from the fertile Atlantis Mountains of Morocco. It has a reddish brown colour when liquid is added and a pinkish brown colour when it is dry. It blends well with water and contains many minerals and nutrients such as: silica, calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium and sodium. It’s ability to absorb oil, free radicals and other harmful bacteria and chemicals from the skin is a little less intense than French Green Clay, but also stronger than White or Kaolin clay. It is ideal for someone who has normal or combination skin.
Preparing a cleansing clay facial mask for skin care
The first thing you will want to do is assess your skin type. If you have very sensitive or dry skin it is best to stick with the white or Kaolin clay powder. If you have normal or combination skin, you might like to use a clay base such as Rhassoul (pinkish/brown clay) or Bentonite clay(grey coloured clay). If you have troubled skin, acne prone skin or congested skin try the French Green Clay or Fuller’s Earth. If your skin seems a little irritated and oily, you might want to go a little more gently with the Grey Bentonite clay or the red/brown Rhassoul clay. If you are not sure what your skin type is begin with the Bentonite clay, which is very cleansing, but still gentle. If the Bentonite clay is too strong you can always drop down to the more gentle white Kaolin clay.
When preparing your clay always use a glass, wooden, ceramic or earthen wear container. Avoid using any metal or plastic containers or spoons to mix the clay mask. Clay absorbs metals so it would not be a good idea to start with a metal spoon or bowl. Some clays absorb or need more water so be prepared to add a little more water or clay powder as needed. I have noticed that the Bentonite clay absorbs and needs a lot more liquid then the French Green clay, so adjust as needed. You can add many different liquids to your clay mask. Some suggestions include: floral waters, spring water, organic fruit or nut carrier oils, aloe vera liquid or gel, liquid honey, milk, apple cider vinegar or herbal infusions. One thing they do not recommend is to use boiled water. So if making an herbal infusion, heat the water, but remove it from heat before the water actually boils. Here are two clay mask recipes for two different skin types.
French Green Clay Mask for Oily, Acne Prone or Congested skin
1 small class or ceramic bowl
a small wooden spoon or clay spoon
3 Tablespoons French Green clay
1 Tablespoon cooled Green Tea
1 teaspoon liquid unpasteurized honey
3-6 drops cedarwood essential oil
Start by measuring out the green clay powder into a small glass or ceramic bowl. Add a tablespoon of cooled green tea to the clay powder and mix gently. Add one teaspoon of the unpasteurized honey to the mixture and stir with a small wooden or ceramic spoon(not a metal or plastic spoon). If you are happy with the consistency or thickness of the mask then go ahead and add 3-6 drops of cedarwood essential oil. If the mixture looks either too runny or too thick and chunky add some extra ingredients. Do this in small increments with an extra tsp. at a time if too runny or more green tea( a tsp. at a time if too thick). Make the mask like a paste, such as toothpaste or tomato paste. If you are happy with the consistency than go ahead and apply it to your dry skin. I like to use a small brush to apply the mask( a basting brush, pastry brush or make-up brush) all work well. Relax back as you allow the mask to dry on your skin(roughly 15-20 minutes) than rinse off with cool water. Wipe the skin dry once all the mask has been removed and apply a light moisturizer.
Green clay is deep cleansing so it helps to remove black heads, acne and other excess sebum and oil from the skin. Honey is both anti-bacterial and a humectant so it can clean and moisturize the skin at the same time. Green tea is an antioxidant so it helps to remove free radicals from the skin, but it can also help to calm red irritated skin. Finally, cedarwood essential oil is good for moisturizing the skin and reducing, treating or healing acne.
Detoxifying and cleansing mask for normal or combination skin
You will need:
a small glass or ceramic bowl
a small wooden spoon or stir stick
3 tablespoons of Bentonite or Grey clay
2-3 tablespoons of Lavender floral water
2-3 teaspoons of Almond or Grapeseed oil
5-6 drops of lavender essential oil
Begin this recipe by measuring out 3 Tablespoons of the Bentonite clay into a glass or ceramic bowl. To this add 2 tablespoons of lavender hydrosol or floral water. Next add two teaspoons of almond or grapeseed oil. Mix the ingredients and if it is still thick and dry add an additional tablespoon of lavender floral water. If you would like a little more moisture add an additional teaspoon of oil. Alternatively if the mixture is runny, add more clay powder. I have found that the Bentonite or Grey clay is a little more dry or absorbs more water than most clays I have used so adjust with just a little extra water or clay powder as needed (a teaspoon at a time) until you reach the right consistency of a paste(like tomato paste). When you feel you have the right consistency, than add 5-6 drops of lavender oil. Alternatively you can also add the 5-6 drops of lavender essential oil to the almond or grapeseed oil when you first add the 2 teaspoons of oil, before adjusting the clay/water for the right consistency. Once all the ingredients are added then stir the ingredients until it is well blended. Apply with a small pastry brush to the entire face and neck and let the mask dry for roughly 15 minutes. Then thoroughly rinse off the mask with cool to warm water. Use a toner and moisturizer on the skin after the clay mask has been removed. This mask is very cleansing, but also moisturizing. The added carrier oil is high in Vitamine E so it helps to add moisture to the mask and the skin. Lavender floral water is gentle and cleansing. The essential oil of lavender is equally cleansing as it is moisturizing and is excellent to aide in healing many conditions of the skin. It also smells great.
These recipes make enough clay mask for a least a week of use. If you have very acne prone, congested or troubled skin, you can use these masks 2-3 times in one week. If your skin is more dry or sensitive, it is best to use the mask only once or twice a week. If you have very dry skin, use the second mask recipe and substitute the Bentonite Grey clay for the white Kaolin clay. Although you will want to sit for at least 15 minutes with the mask on to allow it to dry and to allow the clay to absorb impurities and bacteria, it is best not to wait too long or to allow the mask to actually drie or crack on your face as it can be very drying for the skin. If you are not comfortable or confident enough to mix your own clay facial mask, you can also buy a prepared mask. There are several on the market but one that I tried and liked was: D:tox System purifying facial mask by Giovanni. It is made from both Bentonite clay and Kaolin clay but also contains many other skin healing ingredients such as: Acai berry, Gojji berry and Green tea extract. It is gentle but effective and costs roughly $12.99 for a 4 ounce container.
Other healing and cleansing uses for clay
The recipes above are all for facial skin care masks, clay can also be used in other skin care products. As mentioned above clay powder(particularly white kaolin clay and the grey Bentonite clay) are often ingredients found in other skin care product such as deodorizing powders and sometimes lotions. Clay powder can also be mixed together for a body wrap, although caution must be taken with this as it is not good to cover too much of the body at once. It can be overwhelming or a shock for the organs to experience too much detoxifying at once. However the clay recipes above, or just a simple mixture of clay and water can be made up to cleanse and detoxify a certain area of the body- such as just the oil T-zone of the face, or if there is a boil or outburst on the skin. It is also important not to dispose too much of the clay down the drains at once.
Clay can also be an affective as a first aid treatment for bug bites and in particular bee stings. Clay can be applied to bee stings to help safely remove the stinger. Simply apply a damp clay poultice to the infected area, and remove from the skin once the clay dries to draw out the stinger.
Finally clay can also be used as an internal cleanser by adding a teaspoon or a tablespoon to your juice once a day. The clay scraps and cleans the intestines improving the absorption of minerals from food. If you are interested in this type of internal detoxifying contact a holistic health practitioner or natural path for more information of how this procedure works.