More than 2000 years ago, people found a way to use clay in medicine and benefit from it, and surprisingly - they were onto something. Fast forward to the 21st century, we now know the topical use of specific types of clays can have amazing benefits for the skin.
Today, we’ll explore this in detail, and learn how to use clay for the skin. Clay can nourish your sensitive skin, help you get rid of acne or any other skin problem you might be facing.
If you’re still skeptical, that’s alright - we’ll give you arguments.. There really is evidence on how different types of clay can help with different skin conditions, but the most important thing is to know how to choose the right clay for your skin and what natural ingredients to mix it with to make the perfect DIY clay mask!
So let’s begin
We’ll start with the basics.
Clay is a natural, grained rock or soil material, rich in minerals - beneficial for human health and skin. A clay mask is when the clay is used to make a creamy or thick paste which is then applied to the face for cleansing, clearing, purifying, rejuvenating, or other purposes. There are different kinds of clay masks for different purposes.
You can buy a clay mask that’s ready to use, or you can make one at home, creating a unique and powerful recipe by combining the clay with other natural ingredients. You can even choose to buy the clay and then just go for the simplest option by following the instructions, mixing it with water and applying it to your face.
You can’t really go wrong, because there are no side-effects of using clay masks for the face. Ingestion of clay, on the other hand, does have side-effects, so be careful with that.
Using clay topically is considered safe, but if you want to make sure you’re benefiting from the mask, it’s best that you learn how to make a clay mask on your own.
This of course, depends on the particular type of clay and additional ingredients in your DIY clay mask, but overall, clay masks are really famous for drawing out toxins away from the skin’s pores.
For example, it’s known that bentonite clay can effectively bind with heavy metals and many other environmental pollutants and get them out of the pores. This way, when you wash off the bentonite clay the bound particles will go down too.
Additionally, we mentioned that clay is a mineral-rich material. Some of these minerals include iron, potassium, silica, calcium, magnesium, sodium, and copper. A lot of these minerals have antibacterial, nurturing and healing properties which help the skin fight off inflammation.
For example, one study from 2008 examined two iron-rich clay minerals to assess their effectiveness as therapeutic agents against numerous bacterial infections. They concluded that specific mineral products indeed have intrinsic, heat-stable antibacterial properties and can serve as an inexpensive treatment for various conditions.
Now that you know how clay masks work in helping you protect and keeping your skin clear and smooth, here are some of the benefits that are commonly linked with regular use of DIY clay masks.
In the last paragraph, we mentioned that clay masks have potent antibacterial properties. This antibacterial ability is responsible for the effectiveness of clay masks in treating skin conditions and infections like acne, poison ivy, eczema, dermatitis, and psoriasis.
How do they work?
Well, clay masks can bind with bacteria and other pathogens. When you apply a clay mask on the face, the active ingredients in the mask penetrate into the pores of the skin’s surface and seek out the harmful toxins and bacteria, bind with them and draw them out to the surface of the skin. As the mask dries, these pathogens also dry and get washed off when the mask is removed from the face.
This reduces the overpopulation of bacteria inside your skin which will help you reduce the symptoms of the above-mentioned skin problems.
Just as described before, the binding properties of clay masks can draw out excess oil, dirt, debris, and makeup residue which typically builds up inside pores and leads to the development of blackheads, whiteheads, pimples or even severely inflamed acne breakouts.
By washing off the mask, you will thoroughly remove all the pollutants, leaving the skin clear and clean.
Large pores can be a nightmare for people who are trying to get that flawless skin. Large pores get clogged really easy and really frequently and that usually results in blackheads. And unfortunately, there’s hardly anything more annoying than when your skin still looks like it’s all covered in tiny blackheads - which is how large pores look like, even after you’ve cleansed religiously.
So, how can clay masks help you with this? Large pores are often a result of sebum and dirt build up. The clay mask will soak up everything from the pores, leave them clear, and as it dries, make the skin tighter. With regular use and good lifestyle habits, you will notice changes in this department for sure!
Your skin tone can change due to fluctuations in your melanin production, and this can be due to many things - sun damage is one of the most obvious and well-known factors. Sometimes, these changes in the melanin production don’t happen evenly throughout the whole skin, and you might face patches of discolorations. The antibacterial properties of clay masks and the nourishing minerals they contain can help the skin recover from the damage that leads to a disbalance in melanin production in the first place and successfully even out your skin tone. Mixing the clay with other ingredients that can brighten the skin will boost this effect. We recommend trying cucumber, lemon juice, or activated charcoal. You can find recipes below.
Clay masks are rich in one very interesting nutrient known as “silica”. You can now head over to google if you’ve never heard about this chemical compound, but you will find that most of the sites will tell you to turn to silica if you want your nails, skin, and hair to be healthy.
Most important of all, silica will nourish your skin and provide it with the right nutrients to make it soft, smooth and glowing!
These are the most famous types of clay used for cosmetic purposes.
We’ll start with bentonite clay because it’s probably the most famous name among the clay types. Some people argue that the reason for this high reputation is because bentonite clay is most potent.
But, not to jump to conclusions, this doesn’t mean bentonite clay is the best type of clay.
Every skin is different, and that means that another type of clay may suit it better..
Bentonite clay is, indeed, best at drawing out filth from the skin, absorbing it and countering bacterial infections. This is why it’s best for oily and acne-prone skin. But, its strong abrasive effect makes it unsuitable for sensitive skin, as it can sometimes cause irritations.
The biggest downside to bentonite clay is the uncertainty of whether your skin can handle it.
Fuller’s Earth is not as strong as bentonite clay but is far better for brightening purposes. If you have problems with discoloration, brown aging-spots, uneven skin tone, or blemished skin, then your best choice is fuller’s earth. If you want to enhance its abilities even further, make yourself a DIY clay mask with lemon juice or activated charcoal. You can also choose A DIY face mask from the list we prepared for you at the end of this article.
If bentonite clay was famous for wiping out acne by being too strong on the skin, kaolin clay is famous for its gentle approach when it comes to getting rid of acne. So, if you have oily skin that is prone to acne, but also sensitive and gets irritated easily, kaolin clay is your best choice. It comes in many shades, the most common of them is the pink variation, although if you truly have sensitive skin white or yellow kaolin clays are a better option.
It’s not uncommon for kaolin clay to be mixed with bentonite clay in order to produce a stronger effect. This is something you can play with - by varying the concentration of bentonite clay with kaolin clay you can find the perfect combination of strong and sensitive.
French green clay is for the ones that are looking for the elixir of youth. If you are battling with symptoms of aging skin, like wrinkles, fine lines, or brown spots, go for the french green clay. This mask will tighten your pores, boost circulation, reduce inflammation, and even out your skin tone.
Unlike bentonite clay, french green clay is sensitive-skin-friendly because it’s very gentle.
If you have dry or combination skin and are frequently battling with blackheads or pimple outbreaks, as a result of the build up of impurities, rassoul clay will clear everything out. It’s very effective in drawing out toxins, sebum plugs, blackheads, bacteria, and other pollutants away from the pores.
Best of all, it won’t overdry your face, but rather provide more hydration. This is why is recommended for dry, combination, and sensitive skin.
The procedure is quite simple.
The first step is to decide on the clay type you want to use on your skin and go buy a high-quality clay powder. You can find them everywhere, and there are even great quality options online.
Once you have your hands on a quality clay powder, the second step is to decide what natural ingredients you want to combine it with. And, let me tell you - when it comes to natural remedies, the possibilities are endless! There are superheroes among the fruits, vegetables, and herbs which work on any skin type and can relieve the symptoms of almost any kind of mild to moderate skin condition. Such ingredients are honey, aloe vera, oatmeal, and tea tree oil.
Other ingredients can do wonders for specific skin types and conditions but can make things worse for others.
For example, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, and egg whites are great for oily and acne-prone skin because of their drying effect, as well as for skin tone and discoloration problems because of their brightening effect. But, they are strong and unsuitable for sensitive and dry skin type. In any case, whenever you use any of these ingredients, it’s important to pay attention to your skin reaction. If your skin feels a little too tight after using lemon juice or ACV, that means that the ingredient is too drying for your skin - as the pH values of these products can be too acidic for the skin.
The rule of the thumb is to use oils in order to provide your skin with more moisture, for problems with normal to dry skin. But, there are exceptions here, because some oils can be really beneficial for various skin problems and don’t clog the pores. You can even mix them up with your favorite moisturizer to boost its hydrating properties.
Check out the articles below to get a better idea of the best natural ingredients for your skin, so you can decide what to mix your clay powder with.
After you have these steps taken out of the way, the rest is a piece of cake.
The third step is to decide on the quantity of the ingredients you are going to combine. This will depend on the desired consistency as well as the strength of the ingredients. Usually, for most of the ingredients, you want to aim for 1 to 2 tbsp of them, along with a few drops of essential oils and use watery ingredients to achieve the desired consistency, like rose water and witch hazel for example.
After you have everything nicely blended your mask is ready to use.
The simple answer is until it dries off. But, depending on the ingredients you’ve added, this can vary - it can be anywhere from 15 minutes to up to 45 minutes. Sometimes, if you make the paste a little too runny, you will probably won’t get to see it dry off.
Don’t leave the mask on for more than half an hour or 45 minutes. It can cause irritation and redness.
The sweet spot is somewhere around 20 minutes, five minutes more or less.
It might take you some time until you perfect the consistency so that it dries around this time, but with practice, you’ll get there.
At first, this question might seem a little weird to you, but I think it’s really important to address it since a lot of people are not sure what sensations are expected and what sensations should alarm you - in other words, how do you know when you have to wash it off immediately?
For example, is it normal for clay masks to produce a burning sensation when you apply them?
This really depends on the ingredients you put inside the DIY clay mask.
For example, aloe vera tends to produce a cooling sensation. Lemon juice, egg whites, and apple cider vinegar, in general, will make your skin feel really tight and dry. You might even feel like your skin is rock hard when the mask dries off completely.
But, burning, itching or painful sensations are not okay!
If you start to experience them, wash your face with cold water immediately. And, if the burning or itching sensation doesn’t go away consult with a medical professional.
These side-effects can happen when people have sensitive skin and make their DIY clay mask too strong. This is why is always a good idea to do a patch test before applying the mask directly on the face.
Yes, this is highly recommended as clay can leave the skin a little dry.
It really depends on the combination of ingredients inside the mask, but we’d generally advise to moisturize in the end.
If the mask has lemon juice or other ingredients with a drying effect, skipping the moisturizing part can sometimes make your condition even worse.
Again, it really depends on what you put in the mask. The stronger and the more abrasive it is, the less frequent its use should be.
In general, once or twice a week is the optimal number of times you should be using these masks. My suggestion is to start with once a week and see how you’ll feel.
Best for oily skin and acne problems:
1 tbsp of kaolin clay powder
few drops of tea tree oil
In a small bowl, add one tbsp of kaolin clay powder and a few drops of the tea tree oil. After this, start to slowly add small amounts of water while simultaneously stirring with a spoon. Make sure you don’t overdo it with the water, and you don’t make the consistency too thin. You want to aim for a thick, but smooth paste.
On a clean face, apply a medium layer of the mask all over your face. Wait for the mask to dry and then rinse off with lukewarm water. In the end, finish off with a moisturizer.
You can use this mask once to twice a week.
2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp of bentonite clay powder
few drops of lavender oil
To really go after those pimples you need to mix apple cider vinegar and bentonite clay. If you have sensitive skin, do a patch test before applying on your whole face. Also, you can always dilute the apple cider vinegar and instead add one tbsp of water with one tbsp of apple cider vinegar.
Take a small bowl and add all the ingredients inside. Mix well until everything blends and forms a nice smooth paste. Apply this paste all over your face, avoiding the areas of the eyes and mouth. Let it dry for about 15-20 minutes. Don’t keep it longer on the face. After this, wash your face with warm water and finish off with a moisturizer.
Don’t repeat this procedure more than once a week because you can overdry your face.
Suitable for all skin types:
1 tbsp of bentonite clay
1 tbsp of honey
few drops of lavender oil
Just as we previously described with the other clay masks, take one small bowl and mix the ingredients together until you get a smooth paste. If the paste is too thick, add water until you get a more creamy consistency. After this, apply a thin layer of the mask on a clean face and wait for it to dry - it usually takes 15-20 minutes.
Always finish by washing your face with warm water, pat it dry and then apply a moisturizer.
Don’t use this mask more than once a week.
1 tbsp of fuller’s earth clay powder
1 tbsp of activated charcoal powder
rose water as needed
Combine all the ingredients in a container until you get a smooth and creamy paste. Clean your face, pat it dry, and apply the mask with a cosmetic brush. Leave it on for 15 to 20 minutes, then wash it off with cool or lukewarm water. After using the mask, apply a moisturizer to keep your face from going too dry.
You can use this mask twice a week.
Best for sensitive skin:
1 tbsp of French green or pink clay powder
1 tbsp of honey
Witch hazel extract as needed
Add one tbsp of clay powder and one tbsp of honey in a small container, and then mix while adding witch hazel extract to get the consistency of the blend to be creamy and smooth.
Wash your face and pat it dry. Then, take a cosmetic brush applicator and cover your face with the mask. Leave it on for 20 minutes, then wash off with lukewarm water. Finish off with a light moisturizer.
You can use this mask twice a week.
1 tbsp of rassoul clay mask
1 tbsp of aloe vera gel
water as needed
In a small bowl mix the ingredients to form a smooth paste. You can add water as needed, just be careful not to make the blend too runny. The consistency should feel close to cream.
Wash your face, pat it dry and then apply the mask all over your face, avoiding the areas around the eyes and mouth. You might feel a cooling effect from the aloe vera gel, which is okay. Leave the mask for 20 minutes, until it dries, and then wash your face with lukewarm water. Apply a moisturizer after the procedure.
You can use this mask twice a week.