Face masks are such a popular area of skincare, but have you ever wondered what clay masks do for your skin? There’s a lot of skincare out there that in my opinion, just doesn’t do much! And some skincare items that we love are actually quite harsh and damaging to the skin (such as alcohol-based toners!). Is this the same for clay masks? Are they secretly damaging? Hmm… keep reading to find out!
Clay masks can be made up of bentonite, kaolin or Rhassoul Clay, but they usually contain either bentonite or kaolin clay. Masks will also contain water, some preservatives (essential for keeping the masks bacteria free for a long time), some hydrating ingredients and some may contain light exfoliating ingredients (either physical exfoliants or chemical exfoliants). For more information on the different types of exfoliation, check out my skincare guide!
Clay masks can be used for general health, such as for draining infected bug bites (this is how my mum uses clay), but I personally like to use it on my face as skincare.
So, what do clay masks actually do for your skin?
Clay masks work by absorbing the oil and impurities from your skin, which makes them fantastic at pore cleansing and keeping acne at bay.
We all have pores within our skin, all over our face. Along the T-zone (the nose, cheeks, chin and forehead), these tend to be more visible as they contain sebum. Sebum is our skin’s natural oil, but this can become trapped and coagulated in our pores. This is totally fine and healthy, and not something to worry about at all. However, if you want to reduce the appearance of these pores, clay masks are your best friend!
There are lots of ways to remove sebum build-up from your pores, but most are quite aggressive for the skin. Pore strips stick to the skin, so that when they are removed, they pull out the sebum that’s stuck in your pores. These are fun to use and it can be so interesting to see the little plugs of dried sebum on the pore strip, however, these are not good for the skin. Because they rip out your sebum, they stretch out the pores which can permanently enlarge pores. I have a scar on my nose from the time I used to use these pore strips; I really don’t recommend using these!
You can also use chemical exfoliants such as salicylic acid to clear out your pores. These work well, but the effect is gradual and not as dramatic as when you use a clay mask. I truly believe that clay masks are the best way to keep your pores clean and thus make them appear less visible!
Because of the fact that clay masks clear out your pores, they can be a really great way to reduce acne breakouts!
Pimpled are formed due to bacteria growth in the pores. When the pore becomes infected, you get the growth of a pimple, either under the skin or at the surface with a visible pus head. I have acne, and my acne manifests itself under the skin as hard (and super painful) bumps, and also as whiteheads.
The clay within clay masks draws out the impurities from your skin and keeps your pores clear, which makes it less likely for an infection to form and thus you’ll be less likely to get a spot.
Clay masks can even help those pimples that are under the skin, by pulling the bacteria and pus out to the surface of the skin. This brings the spot to a head, speeding up the healing process!
What’s the best clay mask?
I have tried quite a few clay masks over the years, and I’ve even tried to make my own with pure clay and water. These technically work, but they’re very drying for the skin because pure clay with no hydrating ingredients added will be extremely drying. As spot treatments, these would work well but I wouldn’t recommend them for all over the face!
My favourite clay mask is Innisfree’s Pore Cleansing Clay Mask 2X. This is a really thick and effective clay mask, because it’s packed with clay mask and charcoal to cleanse the pores, absorb excess oil and deeply cleanse the skin. It also doesn’t leave my skin feeling stripped which is really important for me, because I use clay masks multiple times a week. This mask contains glycerin which is a great skin hydrator. This is definitely something to keep an eye out for when shopping for clay masks.
More than any other clay mask I’ve used, this really reduces the appearance of pores on my nose. I use it once or twice a week (I find it works best when I use it two days in a row), and when I wash it off after 15 minutes, I’m always surprised by the dramatic difference in my pore size. They seem so much smaller after use.
I also use this along my cheeks and jaw to help my acne. I find that this is a great mask for speeding up the healing process of pimples by drawing out the impurities and bringing the spot to a head. I can’t comment on how it works to prevent acne as I haven’t really seen a difference there, but I do like to use this twice a week on my acne.
The other Innisfree clay masks are also really great, and I’ve heard good things about Sand and Sky’s Australian Pink Clay Porefining Face Mask too!
There are so many different brands out there with their own clay mask products, so it can be hard to know what’s going to be right for you. My biggest tip is just to experiment and try different things out! Try to find masks that are detoxifying but also hydrating. This post isn’t sponsored, I’m just a fan of this mask.
Overall, I do recommend clay masks and I think they’re worth the hype, particularly for those of you with clogged pores or acne-prone skin.
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