Photo of my friend Alexandra, used with permission, from our vital skincare spa day
Clay and water combined is an ancient tradition for cleansing and exfoliating the skin, resulting in a fresh and bright complexion. In its natural state, clay offers a mild exfoliating action that softens the skin without the use of harsh ingredients. What results after applying a layer to your face and body? Smooth, happy, glowing skin. So how does it work?
Naturally, clay is adsorptive and absorptive, meaning that it's able to attract and bind oils, toxins, and other contaminants from the skin (hello pollution!) while also easily penetrating liquid, like water or hydrosols, for easy application to the skin.
Like many earth-based ingredients, every clay has an affinity for different skin profiles. Although clay is excellent at absorbing oil, there are some clays that are gentle and do not draw or increase circulation as much as others.
- Kaolin or white clay is excellent for dry skin. It's lightly exfoliating and very gentle so when applied as a mask, it doesn't increase circulation or draw as much as a clay like French green or bentonite clay. For dry skin, I generally recommend mixing white clay with honey or rose water and not letting it dry completely. 5-10 minutes should suffice for this clay.
- French green clay and bentonite clay are excellent for use on oily skin. Each clay offers a powerful drawing action that helps balance oil production. When combined with water or rose water, french green clay and bentonite clay will draw while balancing the skin at the same time. I generally don't recommend that customers allow clay to fully dry on their skin as it can be too irritating but do what feels right for you and your skincare ritual.
- Rhassoul clay is a special clay. I love working with it not only because it's a beautiful color but because it's excellent for improving the texture of the skin and feeding dry, flaky skin. I recommend this clay for my dry and sun-exposed customers. Those with combo skin can benefit from it, too.
Adding a mask to your skincare ritual
I find that for most customers, applying a mask at least once a week is beneficial for caring for the skin and the spirit. If you are working to balance oily skin, using your mask of choice twice a week can be beneficial for seeing better results.
In my own ritual, I like using the Feed or Treat mask as a cleanser by adding a small bit of the powder to wet hands, rubbing them together, and applying to the skin in small circles. I generally don't let it sit on the skin and instead rinse and continue through to the rest of my skincare ritual.
The Feed Mask, featuring hibiscus, rosehips, rhassoul + white clays.
How To Mask
Everyone's skincare needs are different — but there are definitely some best practices when it comes to masking.
First, you don't need any fancy tools for your ritual. A small bowl and a brush can be nice for application purposes but sometimes it's a bit more fun to mix straight in your hand. It also removes any barriers to adding this to your skincare ritual.
Next, the general rule of thumb is two parts liquid (water, honey, hydrosol, yogurt, milk of your choice) to one part clay. Clay is absorbent and needs more liquid to create a spreadable mixture... so play around to find the consistency that you like. I like it thicker while others like a thinner one. It's up to you.
- Water: It's the most easily accessible liquid and it allows for maximum drawing. Remember that you don't want your mask ritual to feel very tight or painful. I find that many customers are learning how to care for their skin after using conventional products that commonly hurt, burn, or at the very least tingle. When it comes to natural skincare, it should feel gentle and balanced — so even if you use water, it should never hurt.
- Honey is my favorite mask mixture. It's nourishing, it's antibacterial, and it's a humectant so it draws water to the skin. Yes! Combine that with the power of clay and the result is a natural, irresistable glow that leaves you wanting more.
- Hydrosols are my second favorite, next to honey, for use with powdered clay masks. If you aren't familiar with hydrosols, they are the result of taking a large amount of plant material and adding it to a still with water and ice to create condensation. The resulting condensation that's collected is the hydrosol. Secondary to collecting hydrosols is the collection of essential oils. What I absolutely love about hydrosols is that they are safe for everyone, extremely gentle, and smell incredible. If you haven't dabbled with a hydrosol yet, I highly encourage that you do! I'm looking to purchase a still and offer my own hydrosols in the future but until then, Mountain Rose Herbs is a major supplier of responsible hydrosols. You can also look for a local herbalist or medicinal herb farm to support your local economy and growers, which is the preferred avenue.
Once you mix together your clay mask and your liquid of choice, apply it to your face and neck, then let it sit for 5-10 minutes. I warn customers against letting the mixture dry completely because it's harsh on the skin and isn't a comfortable experience. Self-care shouldn't be painful. While some people might feel that this drawing action gives better results, I'm a firm believer that being kind to yourself is more powerful and the natural ingredients will provide you with a beautiful glow either way. That being said, don't worry if your skin is red post-mask, even if you didn't let it dry completely. That's normal due to the drawing action of the clay.
When it's time to remove the mask, spray with your choice of hydrosol (optional), then apply a warm, wet washcloth to your face and gently remove the mask using a small circular motion. This will provide an exfoliating action to the ritual while sloughing off dead skin. If you find that an area of clay is sticking, spritz again with a hydrosol or another application with a damp washcloth. The purpose here is to be mindful and loving towards your skin; not harsh and over the top. Take your time!
Once the clay mask is completely removed, follow with your choice of hydrosol or toner, face cream, and oil serum to lock in moisture and balance the complexion.
Here are some great options for a natural glow anytime you need it:
Skin type: Dry + irritated + sun exposed + sensitive
"I received a sample of this clay mask with another order. I used the mask just now and it might be the best face mask I’ve ever used. I mixed in a few drops of Boho Bloom facial oil too! This mask felt gentle, not irritating or drying. I was surprised by how good my skin looked in the mirror after I rinsed the mask off. So clean, even toned, glowing. Thanks so much for the sample. I’m definitely ordering this!" — Jade
Skin type: Dry + normal + combo + sun exposed
"I have been loving the FEED mask! After every use my face is brighter, more even tone and so soft. I especially love the gentle exfoliating benefit from using it. Right after I used it, my husband came home and said “Wow! Your skin looks so bright.” It was amazing he could even tell the difference. I HIGHLY recommend this product." — Amber Moore
Skin type: Oily + acneic + hormonal + combo
"This mask is great for my combination oily/dry/sensitive skin and my husband's rosacea. I love the oh so subtle exfoliation. But I especially love that it's a powder and I can mix it to my preferred consistency and with anything my heart desires. Try adding a bit of your fav facial oil!" — Jennifer