Clay masks are a popular method for cleansing the skin. People have all sorts of ideas on how the clay does this though. Some people say that the clay detoxifies the skin by drawing out unwelcome toxins as it dries while others say the mixture dries out skin by soaking up oils as it dries. Both of these explanations make a sort of intuitive sense based on popular beauty and health trends, but are mistaken in their ideas on how clay masks work. You can’t “detox” your skin because your skin has its own methods for cleaning itself and your whole body has its own internal cleaning systems. And, strangely enough, clay doesn’t actually absorb oil terribly well either. We know how clay masks work. It is actually quite simple, but they can cleanse in more than one way depending on the exact formulation of the clay mask. Taking a quick look at how clay masks actually cleanse your skin should give you a better appreciation of them though.
Sticky Is As Sticky Does
The basic function of a clay mask operates very simply. Damp clay masks are easy to spread across your skin. We’ve all done it or had it done to us before. They glide smoothly across our skin and then we leave them to dry. The drying process itself isn’t what helps clay masks to cleanse your skin. Removing them is what does the trick. Dried clay, as you well know, can be difficult to remove from the skin easily. You generally end up getting it off in pieces at a time that get gently pried away from the skin. This act actually helps to exfoliate and cleanse the skin by pulling away dried skin, clumps of oil and debris, and other impurities on the surface of your skin. This is why it is so important to be able to apply the clay properly in the first place as it needs coverage to do any good for your skin. Clay masks do cleanse in other ways though.
Active Ingredients Matter
Some clay masks are just a particular mixture of clay, but many professional masks incorporate active ingredients into the masks. These masks are capable of cleansing your skin in any number of ways. Popular ingredients to add are anti-inflammatory ingredients that reduce irritation later during the removal of the mask and antimicrobial products to further cleanse the skin. This can be particularly effective when working to manage acne prone skin, but you’ll want to be careful before using this during a breakout. You don’t want to accidentally scratch open the acne and make the problem worse. Depending on the active ingredients, you can get any number of bonus effects alongside the basic cleansing and exfoliating effect of a clay mask. They can be good as a treatment, but it does leave the question of how often it is acceptable to use such a mask and how long the effects will stick.
A Vanishing Mask
Clay masks can be useful and easily incorporated into a regular beauty routine, but shouldn’t be used too often for the same reason you don’t exfoliate more than one to two times a week. Your skin needs time to heal from the exfoliation even with soothing active ingredients. Clay masks aren’t necessarily the most long lasting in their effects though if you don’t have a professional one done with active ingredients. The exfoliation effect will last, but any oil control benefits can rapidly fade. They can’t be used to replace proper routine skincare either. Clay masks are best used as a supplement to a healthy skincare routine instead of being made the focal point of them. There may be claims for miraculous clay out there, but remember that clay is, for the most part, clay if it doesn’t come from a truly mineral rich area. Checking any masks you buy for home use for active ingredients will also give you an idea of how much the mask is worth in your routine.
Clay masks cleanse in a simple, mechanical fashion if they don’t have any active ingredients. They simply bind to and peel away the unwanted skin, oils, and debris. It is nothing special no matter how much hype people put into it. Mineral rich clay and clay masks with active ingredients can do more for your skin, but are generally harder to find by comparison to a basic clay mask. This simple cleansing and exfoliating technique is still a good thing to consider for your skin’s health. Don’t rely on it though.