Being part of the internet generation means keeping up with all the latest trends, however weird and however wonderful. This year alone we’ve already seen lab-grown meat, ube (a purple yam that’s completely normal in the Philippines, but is now being used to colour everything from ice cream to cake) and dessert hummus (yep, it was only a matter of time before this vegan staple went sweet).
And that’s just what we’re consuming. The world of skin care products doesn’t escape - snail slime facial, anyone? So, what do we believe is good for our skin and what do we dismiss as just yet another Instagrammable fad?
Well, that’s tricky to answer. But what we can do, is discuss one trend that’s crossed the line from builders merchants and garden centres to beauty counters everywhere - clay.
Clay masks are said to be good for purifying the skin, drawing out toxins and having an anti-inflammatory effect on stressed out skin. They're also said to be great for those of us with mild to moderate acne. But are they really any good for treating skin that's prone to breakouts? Let’s take a look...
What Are Clay Face Masks for Spots and Breakouts?
These face masks are pretty much what they say on the tin - they’re face masks, designed to be applied to the skin, that contain clay as their main ingredient.
But not just any old mud retrieved from the ground. Instead they contain clay that’s been purified and made to conform to skin safety standards so that they can be used in a skin care routine that leaves the skin looking and feeling fresh and clear.
What Do Clay Masks Do for the Skin?
There are many different types of clay mask, and all have slightly different properties. However, they all have one thing in common - they’re rich in skin supporting minerals and are capable of drawing out skin impurities that can often be the root cause of acne.
They can be a good alternative to using harsh products to keep the skin clear, including using prescription acne products. They're suitable for different skin types, including sensitive skin, dry, oily or combination skin, those struggling with hormonal acne and anyone who needs to unclog congested skin.
Do Face Masks Actually Help Acne?
Yes, they help to treat acne and they could become your skin's best friend.
Spots and acne breakouts are caused, in part, by the biggest skin concern for many of us - blocked pores. Blocked pores can lead to redness and poor skin texture and tone. But also, the pores of our skin can become overloaded with dirt, bacteria, dead skin cells and sebum. (Sebum is the the oily, waxy substance secreted by the sebaceous glands to help nourish and hydrate the skin and keep it supple.)
When this happens, newly produced sebum covers the pores, and all the debris becomes trapped. This then leads to blackheads, whiteheads, papules, pustules and cysts. Or in other words, acne. This can be even more troublesome if we have oily skin.
Clay face masks for acne-prone skin help to draw these impurities out of the pores, helping to prevent future breakouts. They also help to soothe active acne by decreasing the inflammation in the skin.
How Do Clay Face Masks for Acne Work?
As we've learned, acne spots are caused by a build up of dirt, makeup, excess sebum, skin bacteria and dead skin cells in the pores. When the pores get clogged with all of these unwanted substances, the skin becomes inflamed and causes spots to form.
Despite there being numerous different types of clay that can be used in face masks, they all tend to work in the same way - they have properties that mean they can draw dirt and other acne spot causing impurities from the pores of the skin. When we remove the mask, we remove all the debris with it.
Best Face Masks for Clear Skin
There is no clear answer to the best face masks for acne question. Instead, the best acne treatment for you is the one that works. And when it comes to acne face masks, the fun is in the experimenting!
Here's a roundup of the best face masks for acne-prone skin that contain clay to calm and purify. Which type will you try first?
Pink Clay Purifying Mask: Fight Acne and Keep Your Skin Blemish Free
Pink clay originates from Australia and as well as being nicely Instagrammable, it helps to draw impurities from the skin, deeply cleansing the pores and nourishing the skin with its rich mineral content.
Bentonite Clay: Best for Acne Prone Skin and Blackheads
Considered the best type of acne-fighting face masks for those with stressed out, acne-prone skin, bentonite helps to absorb impurities from the skin, helping, in turn, to make your pores appear tighter and smaller. Bentonite also hasantimicrobial and anti-inflammatory propertiesthat help to further support skin that is prone to acne breakouts.
Bentonite helps to support acne prone skin by clearing the pores of impurities resulting in fewer blocked pores and acne spots, and clearer skin that glows with health. It also happens to be the main ingredient in our Purifying Clay Face Mask which is part of our alkalising skin care range.
Kaolin Facial Masks for Oily Skin: Reduce Sebum and Unclog Pores
Kaolin clay really helps to deep cleanse the pores, helping to purify and prevent acne spots from forming deep within the skin’s pores. It clears excess oil and dirt from the pores more so than simply cleansing alone, making it one of the best facial masks for oily skin.
Black Clay: Best Charcoal Mask and Spot Treatment
Black clay masks tend to contain different types, mixed with activated charcoal, that gives them their black colour.
Activated charcoal is another ingredient that can detoxify and calm the skin by drawing out skin impurities that can cause acne spots. Use this mask to leave skin feeling smooth and calm.
How Should You Apply a Clay Face Mask?
We think that applying any kind of mask needs to be done during a time when you’re free from other distractions, stresses and strains. Whilst in the bath before bed is a good idea.
Different types of clay face masks have different recommend application procedures, so always follow the instructions relevant to that mask. But on the whole, these masks tend to come as a thick paste that can be applied to the skin using clean fingers or a dedicated, clean facial brush.
After cleansing, apply a thick layer onto the skin, avoiding the eyes area, lips and nostrils. Make sure you also apply your mask to your jawline and if you like, extend it downwards over your neck and even further down to cover your décolletage.
How Long Should You Leave a Clay Face Mask on For?
Again, each mask will come with its own specific instructions including how long to leave it on for. But as a general rule, try to make sure you leave yours on for at least ten or 15 minutes.
The longer you leave it on the better, but some can be quite drying on the skin as they absorb excess oil, so keep this in mind and always apply a moisturiser afterwards.
Do You Have to Rinse Your Face After Using a Mask?
Some sheet masks can be peeled off in one satisfying piece, whilst others need to be washed off using clean, warm water and a gentle muslin cloth or flannel.
Either way, follow the instructions and use a mild cleanser afterwards to remove any leftover product and dirt and debris that may have been left on the skin by the mask. This will help to prevent your skin from drying out as well as protect your pillow when you sleep - clay masks can be quite vivid or dark in colour!
How Often Should You Use a Face Mask to Help with Acne?
We recommend using a mask once a week to help keep your skin in the best condition. If you have very sensitive skin or you struggle with severe cystic acne, then you may need to limit their use to once every two weeks.
Can I Use a Clay Face Mask for Oily Skin?
Oily skin needs products that help to reduce sebum production to help clear your skin, so using a clay mask can really help. Sometimes acne masks can soothe the skin too, rather than just balancing oil production, so they're a great all-rounder to dry out the skin and fight acne.
Products containing salicylic acid can also be helpful for congested skin with excess oil production. Salicylic acid is a type of alpha hydroxy acid, or AHA that gently exfoliates dead skin cells away by removing the top layers of skin. In doing so, it helps to remove excess sebum that can clog pores and lead to spots, leaving the skin feeling smoother and and improving the texture of your skin.
Can a Face Mask Make Acne Worse?
We all have different skin types, and some products that suit some people, won't suit others, so often, it's a case of trial and error.
Sometimes using a clay mask can cause purging - when the pores are so blocked that all of the debris comes to the surface, causing acne to appear worse. But this will only be temporary and within a few weeks, your skin should become clearer.
Should Men Use Face Masks?
Absolutely! Male skin tends to be thicker and oiler, so the best masks for male skin contain clay to help calm oily, inflamed skin.
Looking After Your Skin
Using a clay mask once a week, along with nourishing supportive skincare products will help to keep your skin in tip top condition.
And after all, if clay masks were good enough for Cleopatra all those years ago, then they sure are good enough for us in today’s modern world!
This article is not meant to treat or diagnose. Please visit your doctor for advice about any health concerns you may have.