How Do Clay Masks Work

Everything you need to know about clay masks.

The extraordinary cleansing power of green clay

It's been used for donkey's years and now green clay's back under the cosmetic spotlight. Not least because of its amazing detoxifying properties. Here's the lowdown.

Green Clay, What's The Deal?

This highly valued clay is known to treat a number of ailments. It's been slowly creeping back into the limelight. Here's why a humble mud, which is dried to make a powder, has once again taken the beauty world by storm. Green clay can be dissolved in water and drunk (you'll find it in specialist shops) or applied externally in cosmetics - purifying face masks being the most popular choice.

A Turbo-Charged Skin-Friendly Detox

Green clay is used to deeply purify skin. When applied as a mask, it draws out impurities (just like a magnet), without drying our skin. Indeed, quite the opposite. Whilst it sucks up grime, sebum and make up, it also pumps our skin full of beneficial minerals. It's packed with silica, aluminium, calcium, iron, magnesium, selenium, zinc and potassium. It softens, hydrates and revitalises skin whilst giving it a thorough cleanse. It combats ageing and re-oxygenates our skin.

How Green Clay Helps Our Faces
Apply a green clay mask (paying attention to the troublesome T-zone, but avoiding the eyes) leave it to work for several minutes and then rinse off and dry your face. Your skin will be freed of impurities. You'll have clean, smooth and glowing skin. And once your skin can breathe, it'll be adequately oxygenated. If you suffer from pimples/black heads or live/work in a highly polluted area, then applying a green clay face mask several times a week will do your skin a purifying world of good.

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Green, pink, white: try all the colours of the clay rainbow

Clay has been used as a quick and effective beauty trick for thousands of years all over the world. It's a star ingredient that comes in loads of colours, thanks to different mineral properties, and they all meet different skincare needs. Here’s your colour-coded guide to which one to use.

Green Clay Controls Sebum
Green clay, often called French green clay, is the most commonly used in skincare and it's great for combination, oily and acne-prone skin. It is a bio-mineral that is made up of both decomposed plant material and trace minerals, and as such is naturally rich in calcium, aluminium and magnesium. This helps to purify, regenerate and detoxify the skin, while controlling excess sebum. It is also a highly effective antibacterial, making it an all-round great skincare product.

Pink Clay Softens

A subtle blend of red and white clay, pink clay is the gentlest of all the clays, which makes its cleansing action fantastic for sensitive and irritated skin. Rich in trace elements, which include kaolinite, iron and calcite, pink clay aids regeneration of skin cells, and used once a week it will calm and moisturise the skin.

White Clay Purifies
White clay is essentially kaolin, and is known for its gentle cleansing qualities. Its silica-rich properties make it brilliant for softening, purifying and cleansing sensitive skin without irritating. It doesn’t draw out oils, so is ideal for dry skin, too.

Red Clay Brightens

Thanks to its complex range of minerals, red clay is highly absorbent and has excellent exfoliating properties. It has been used for centuries to help restore radiance to tired faces, even out skin tone, close pores and smooth skin. If you are susceptible to blackheads, regular treatment with red clay will work wonders. You’ll also notice a difference if you suffer from dry, flaky skin.

Black Clay Detoxifies

Known for its iron-rich content and oxygenating properties, black clay contains active cleansing ingredients that nourish skin and eliminate toxins. It is also rich in magnesium and calcium, and is great for combatting blocked pores and smoothing out wrinkles.
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How does clay work when applied to my skin?

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Detox, healing, soothing, cleansing, hydrating, remineralising… We all know the good a clay mask can do to our face. But which is the best addition to your specific skin care routine? We take a look…

White Clay Mask For Dry Skin
Kaolin clay is perfect for dry skin: as it is “washed” by rainwater or streams, it is the clay that is least rich in metals, and therefore the most gentle addition to your skin care routine. It also has fortifying properties; it encourages the elimination of toxins and will remineralise the skin.

Green Clay Mask For Combitination to Oily Skin

It is the perfect clay for combination to oily skin and traditionally the most popular in France for clay masks, as it is widely known as the most versatile kind of clay. It is recommended for combination skin to oily skin as it absorbs and regulates excess sebum. It can also be used on spots to dry them out. 

Yellow Clay Mask For Mature Skin
The manganese content of yellow clay adds a regenerating effect to your skin care routine. This natural anti wrinkle substance is rich in minerals and will stimulate the production of iron and collagen, which will improve cell oxygenation and tone up the skin.

Red Clay For Tired Skin

Red clay boasts soothing and detoxifying properties, making it ideal for tired skin that can suffer from reactions and rosacea. It is very rich in oligoelements and iron, boosts circulation and brings radiance and glow back to your skin. It is the perfect clay mask for dull skin!

Pink Clay Mask For Sensitive Skin

Pink clay is a combination of 3/4 white clay and 1/4 red clay and is ideal for sensitive skin. It softens and cares for intolerant skin that is prone to redness. So, add it to your skin care routine if you are looking for a clay mask that cleans delicate skin deeply, without irritating it.

Purple Clay Mask For Fragile Skin

Purple clay is a mixture of several natural clays that make it particularly rich in silicium and low in mineral salts. Its properties are similar to those of white clay, making it particularly useful for fragile, delicate skin. It softens and purifies the skin while fighting inflammation.
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This mud has been used since the dawn of time to heal, beautify and purify the skin. Natural, inexpensive and very effective, clay is the active star ingredient in many cosmetic products. Here's why...

Clay, A Natural Beauty Product

Clay is a soil that's formed from the decomposition of sedimentary rocks. 100% natural, it's packed with minerals (silica, iron, magnesium) which, in turn, determine both its colour - pink, green, white, blue, grey- as well as its properties. In addition to its organic properties, clay is 'clever', as its ingredients are activated when moistened and will naturally focus on the imperfection being treated. From ridding the skin of impurities and toxins to balancing excess sebum, drying spots, healing, cleansing, helping to repair damaged skin... This is nature at its best!

Different Clays Treat Different Imperfections
There are numerous varieties of clay and each one can target a specific problem. Green, pink and white clays are the best known and are widely used in cosmetics: green absorbs excess sebum and mattifies the skin, pink soothes irritations and white clay - AKA kaolin - gently purifies. And that's not all ! Yellow clay purifies and exfoliates the face, red brightens the complexion and refines skin texture, black removes toxins and purple is a great cleanser. As for rhassoul clay (known as the cleansing clay), it rids the skin of impurities, without affecting the hydrolipidic film.

Clay Face Masks
The earthy texture of clay makes it ideal for masks or poultices, which can be combined with a few drops of vegetable oils. Face masks are worth their weight in gold, as they both cleanse and heal, with an immediate soothing and boosting effect. By applying a thick layer to the face, clay masks increase the penetration of its ingredients: the skin benefits from an active soak! To increase its skin brightening effect: steam your face for a few minutes over a bowl of piping hot water. This will open the pores for deeper penetration of the active ingredients. Amazing results in record time!

 Article supplied & written by Marie Claire, part of Hearst Communications, Inc
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