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Are Clay Face Masks Good for Acne?

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Being part of the internet generation means keeping up with all the latest trends, however weird and however wonderful.

This year alone (pre-coronavirus at least) 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 us 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. But are they any good for treating acne prone skin? Let’s take a look...

What are clay face masks?

Clay 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. Not just any old clay from the ground, but clay that’s been purified and made to conform to skin safety standards.

There are many different types of clay mask, and all have slightly different properties but 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.

Pink Clay Face Masks

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 Face Masks

Considered the best type of clay face mask for those with stressed out, acne prone skin, bentonite clay helps to absorb impurities from the skin, helping, in turn, to make your pores appear tighter and smaller. This type of clay also has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties that help to further support skin that is prone to acne breakouts.

Bentonite clay 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 Clear Out Face Mask which is as part of our alkalising skin care range.

Kaolin Clay Face Masks

Kaolin is a type of clay that really helps to deep cleanse the pores, helping to purify the skin 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.

Black Clay Face Masks

Black clay masks tend to contain different types of clay, mixed with activated charcoal, that gives them their black colour.

Activated charcoal is another agent that can detoxify the skin by drawing out skin impurities that can cause acne spots, such as dirt, old makeup, excess oil, dead skin cells and other cellular debris.

How do clay face masks work?

Acne spots are caused by a build up of dirt, makeup, excess sebum (the oily, waxy substance secreted by the sebaceous glands to help nourish and hydrate the skin and keep it supple), 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 clay face masks, they all tend to work in the same way. Clay has properties that means it can draw dirt and other acne spot causing impurities from the pores of the skin.

How should you apply a clay face mask?

We think that applying any kind of face mask needs to be done during a time when you’re free from other distractions, stresses and strains. Applying a face mask 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, clay masks tend to come as a thick paste that can be applied to the skin using clean fingers or a dedicated and clean facial brush.

Apply a thick layer onto the skin, avoiding the eyes area, lips and nostrils. Make sure you also apply your clay 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 clay 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.

How to remove a clay face mask?

Some clay masks can be peeled off in one satisfying face shaped 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 clay 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 clay face mask?

We recommend using a clay face mask once a week to help keep your skin in the best condition.

After all, if they were good enough for Cleopatra all those years ago, then they sure are good enough for us in today’s modern world!






Hannah de Gruchy BSc(Hons)

About Author

Hannah de Gruchy is a freelancer writer who specialises in health and wellness. She has a keen interest in the biology of skin and loves using her words to help separate the real science of skincare from the pseudoscience of some skincare brands. Hannah has a degree in Human Biology and many years’ experience working in laboratories around London. Using this experience, Hannah enjoys turning complex science into interesting, engaging and easy to digest pieces to read. In her spare time, Hannah runs, practices yoga and loves cooking plant based foods.

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