A green clay mask on the face, cucumber slices on the eyes, and a towel on the head - this is a classic image of a woman who takes great care of herself. Cosmetic clays are efficient and safe, but the great number varieties can be confusing. Let's untangle the clay mystery!
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Clays are essentially decomposed rocks. Over millions of years, erosion destroys mountains, turning them into heaps of silicate molecules with additions of iron, magnesium, and other elements – that is, clay.
Clay can both absorb and adsorb – that is, both chemically pull other particles inside it and make them attach to its surface. Both are good for different types of skin: absorption works best with oily skin, while adsorption is better for those whose face is dry. Research shows that apart from cleansing, clay has an antibacterial effect, too. Let us examine the many varieties available on the market!
Choose your colour
- French Green – it owes its green colour to iron and magnesium. This may be the best one for absorbing excess oil from the skin, and it can also regulate the production of sebum (skin oil). It removes dead skin cells; be advised, however, that it has a serious drying effect, so it’s not suitable for dry skin.
- Moroccan Red – mined in the Atlas mountains, it takes its red colour from high iron contents. It does a great job absorbing grease and dirt and can detox and improve blood circulation. It is one of the traditional cosmetic secrets of Moroccan women.
- Cambrian Blue – this type of clay, called montmorillonite, can be used to treat acne and improve the appearance of oily skin. It is a powerful detoxifier, but too drying for sensitive skin.
- White Kaolinite – this is perhaps the most famous of clays, found in lots of cosmetics. In does not absorb but rather adsorbs, making it a perfect choice for dry skin. It gently removes impurities and exfoliates the skin (you can find even more types of clay here).
Working with clay
Now that you have chosen the type of clay, what do you do with it? The most basic recipe is a facial mask that consists of only clay and water in equal parts. Aplly the clay paste to your face and let it almost dry… but not quite. If it gets so dry that it starts cracking, it will mean your skin has lost a lot of moisture. Washing off a clay mask can be a bit annoying, since it tends to stick to your face, but you will be rewarded with a fresh, glowing look and a feeling of deep cleansing.
Once you have mastered the basic mask, you can try adding milk or kefir instead of water, or a herbal infusion like camomile. Don’t hesitate to add a drop of your favorite essential oil. Some oatmeal ground in a blender can make a great addition, too!
Not only for your face
Cosmetic clays are used in luxury spas to prepare body wraps, and you can make your own! You will need clay, water, essential oils and a plastic sheet. You can find some recipes here.
Dry shampoos are all the rage right now, since they remove excess grease from the hair without making it dry, and you can prepare it easily using clay, arrowroot powder (which can be substituted with corn starch), and essential oils (see the recipe here).
One word on detoxing: a lot of detox fans actually drink a solution of cosmetic clay. However, clay sold on the market is not designed to be ingested! We advise AGAINST drinking clay (more info here).
Clay is a fully natural product that doesn’t go bad and is sold for only about $5 per pound. So what are you waiting for? Go get yourself some clay!