Why You Should Use Clay on Your Skin:
Beauty & Health Benefits of a Clay Mask
The use of clay for topical healing and internal medicinal uses traces back throughout ancient history. Clay as medicine has been referenced as far back as ancient Rome, 60 BC to be exact. Aristotle – the Father of Medicine – also referenced the conscious effort of eating the earth, in the form of soil or clay, for its therapeutic benefits as far back as 384–322 BC.
Considering that the Earth is made up largely of minerals, which is the bulk of what clay is, it wouldn’t be surprising to find out that the use of clay as medicine traces back even further. All throughout the natural world we see animals use mud intuitively to protect themselves from excessive sun exposure, to ward off insects and bugs, and to protect their skin.
Still today, the practice of clay therapy is present. However, now we have even more evidence as to why the use of it is so extraordinarily helpful. With the exposure to a wide range of toxins, stress and environmental pollutants, many people suffer from skin issues today. Most of these imbalances come down to three primary issues; inflammation, bacterial imbalance, and toxicity. All three of these areas can be remedied with the application of clay topically to the skin. 1 2 3
How Clay Works to Nourish the Skin
Perhaps the most predominant function of medicinal clay is its ability to draw out toxicity from within the body and from the surface of the skin. Various therapeutic clays, especially bentonite clay can effectively bind to heavy metals like mercury, cadmium, lead, and benzene as well as other environmental pollutants and eliminate them from the body’s tissues.
For example, bentonite clay works by producing a negative electrical charge when it comes in contact with a liquid. When the activated clay touches any type of fluid, it naturally binds to any toxins present in the fluid. This works similarly to the way earthling works to decrease inflammation and act as an antioxidant – when you stand barefoot on grass, your body absorbs free electrons from the earth and discharges positively charged ions.
In clay’s natural state, it possesses negatively charged molecules, where most toxins, heavy metals and bacteria have positively charged molecules. When taken internally or applied to the skin, what happens is the two bind together and through the process of washing the clay off, you escort these toxins off the skin. The same thing happens when taken internally.
Because of its molecular charge, clay naturally seeks out toxins on and in the body to bind with. This is because these substances have a missing ion, which determines it its “charge” and therefore seeks for the opposite charge that will “complete it”. Once discovered, they bind, and as mentioned, they are then free to leave the body’s intestinal tract, mouth, or in this case, the surface of the skin.
This ability alone can improve the overall quality and health of the skin by improving the immunity of the surface of the skin and greatly reducing inflammation. 4
However, this isn’t the only way that clay works to improve the integrity of the skin, it is also rich in beautifying minerals including calcium, magnesium, silica, sodium, copper, iron and potassium. It’s detoxifying abilities, nutritive qualities, and microbial balancing properties give it many reasons to use for the skin.
Below, let us explore how clay masks can improve skin disease, heal the skin and promote youthful, beautiful, glowing skin.
Science-Backed Benefits of Clay Masks
Anti-Bacterial: Heal Eczema, Dermatitis & Psoriasis
As mentioned, hydrated clay binds with not just toxins but also harmful bacteria and pathogens. When hydrated clay is applied to the skin and left to dry, as in the case of a clay mask, it binds to bacteria on the surface of the skin and deep in the pores. It brings the dried up bacteria to the surface of the skin to then be washed away. This act reduces the overpopulation of pathogenic bacteria to friendly microflora, which is responsible for bacterial skin problems, acne, and even poison ivy. In other words, clay masks work as a natural antibiotic that can heal skin infections and even remedy issues like eczema, dermatitis, and psoriasis. It is even more effective than most antibiotics, as it will not entirely wipe out the colonies of friendly bacteria that promote healthy skin immunity. 6, 7, 8 9
Detoxifies & Purifies the Skin
Again, as discussed briefly, we know that clay has detoxification properties. It has a strong negative electrical charge, which binds to negatively charged toxins and pulls them from the skin when used as a topical mask. Any form of an environmental pollutant, nanoparticles, cacogenic, heavy metal, chemical, and essentially any unnatural impurity you could think of – and there are thousands of them in the modern world – can be eliminated from the body with the use of clay. As environmental pollutants come into contact with the skin, they can store in the pores and lead to inflammation and allergic responses. The use of a clay mask will leave your skin feeling renewed, incredibly clean, oxygenated and less inflamed.
Oxygenates the Cells
Clay not only pulls toxins out of the skin’s pores but also hydrogen from the skin cells, which allows more room for oxygen to benefit the skin tissue and rejuvenate them. This moves improved circulation and overall healthier skin.
Unclogs and Shrinks Skin Pores
Minimizing the appearance of pores is often a goal for many people seeking beautiful looking skin. However, having smaller pores is not just a goal of vanity, smaller pores are typically the result of healthier skin, considering that the pores become enlarged when they are clogged with excess sebum, bacteria, and dirt. Clay masks are remarkable at pulling sebum, dirt and possible bacteria from the skin pores.
After application of a clay mask, you will feel your face tighten as the clay dries. As the clay dries it “soaks” up the skins natural oils and anything clogging the pores and draws it to the surface. Once you wash the mask off, you will feel a deep sense of cleanliness. Over the course of time, with continual use, you will inevitably notice your pores becoming smaller. If you are adhering to a healthy, whole foods diet and low-toxicity lifestyle, the results will be even more noticeable, as the production of sebum will be more balanced and the less inflammation.
Regulates Sebum Production
Our skin naturally produces oil to protect and moisturize it – it’s known as sebum. When our immune systems are over-activated, be it from an infection, autoimmunity, stress or toxic overload, the skin can overproduce sebum. The result can be acne, blackheads, whiteheads, too oily skin or other skin blemishes. While treating the root cause of sebum imbalances is an internal job accomplished via diet and lifestyle, clay masks are an incredible remedy for oily and acne-prone skin. A clay mask can “soak” up excess sebum and clean out any clogged pores from the resulting excess oil. Be sure to use an organic, plant-based moisturizer with healthy fats to restore some oil to the skin’s surface, that way it does not overproduce after the mask.
Softer, Smoother & Glowing Skin
So far, the attributes of clay already mentioned will target most of the root causes of skin problems and help the skin achieve greater health. In addition to countering skin problems for better skin appearance, clay is also loaded with a very important beautifying nutrient known as silica. This trace mineral is one of the most abundant minerals in the body; however, most people do not get enough in their diet today. It is responsible for manufacturing connective tissue such as the muscle, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, collagen, skin and bone. When silica is abundant in the body, it supports healthy, strong connective tissues and it also happens to make your skin very soft and smooth. In nature, quartz and sand are comprised of oxygen and silicon. These are elements used to produce glass and are responsible for giving us strong shiny teeth. In a similar fashion, they are responsible for giving our skin a smooth, pearl-like complexion. By using clay masks, you can get more silica into your body and onto your skin. So not only will it remove dead skin cells, bacteria and debris, it will give your skin important nutrients it needs to glow. 10
Rejuvenates & Regenerates the Skin
Clay masks can be used to rebuild damaged skin fibers as well as promote youthful skin and preventing or eliminating wrinkles. Bentonite clay specifically has been shown to promote blood circulation to the skin, thus increasing healing and regenerating of the skin tissue. The use of clay masks also helps to promote youthful skin naturally and reduces wrinkles and fine lines by promoting the number of collagen fibers by enhancing collagen synthesis.
Improves Skin Tone
It is common for one to experience imbalances in their skin tone. This is a result of pore melanin production and liver toxicity, amongst other things. And while it may not be completely possible to achieve the same flawless skin you had as a 3-year-old, it is possible to achieve very healthy and beautiful skin with the right tools. One of the secrets to healthy glowing skin is to keep both internal and external toxins to a minimum.
As we have learned, the use of clay masks can help you achieve this. Not just that, clay masks help your skin look younger and improve both texture and tone by reducing inflammation, removing dead skin cells, and providing it with rich amounts of silica. 12
It’s Completely Natural
One of the major problems with today’s skin care products is that they are highly toxic. Most skin care products today contain very harsh ingredients. These ingredients like BPA, synthetic fragrances, parabens, phthalates and other unnatural, toxic substances are linked to everything from chronic disease to skin irritation. Clay masks are a completely natural way to detoxify, cleanse, purify, exfoliate and beautify your skin without any negative side effects.
The Benefits of Various Clays
Of all the varieties of clays, bentonite is perhaps the most popular because it is the most potent. The only precaution here is that if you are highly sensitive skin, you might want to stick with a white Kaolin clay. Bentonite is powerful and most of the research done on medicinal clays focuses on this primary clay. It possesses the strongest ability to detoxify the skin, absorb and draw out impurities from the skin, counter bacterial infections and promote incredible blood circulation to the surface of the skin. If your skin can handle it, bentonite clay is definitely one of the best for healing the skin.
An ancient, mineral-rich clay that hails from Morocco, Rhassoul clay is great for both the skin and hair. It is a powerful detoxifying agent considering it is very negatively charged, acting as the perfect magnet for attracting toxins, sebum plugs, blackheads, bacteria, and other impurities to be escorted out of the skin. Unlike bentonite clay, which can be very drying, Rhassoul is gentle and won’t dry your skin out, thanks to its unique mineral make up, which will improve the texture and softness of your skin.
Of the many varieties of medicinal clays, white kaolin clay is the gentlest and is great for sensitive skin. While great for mild exfoliation, it doesn’t possess the same potent detoxification properties as bentonite. There are other varieties of Kaolin; however, such as yellow and red, and as the hues deepen, so does its ability to absorb toxins. Depending on how sensitive your skin is, you have options ranging from white, yellow to pink and red Kaolin clays. Pink Kaolin is essentially a mix between white and red, making it the perfect “in-between” clay for average skin types. If your skin can handle it, Red Kaolin has the most circulation-boosting benefits, which will help brighten your skin tone.
How to Make a Clay Mask
If you are interested in using a clay mask for the many therapeutic benefits we’ve discussed here, you will want to know how to go about it properly.
- Mix equal parts Clay Powder to clean, purified water – spring water is best, distilled will absorb the minerals in the clay so its best avoided. For an even more intense, purifying mask, replace water with raw apple cider vinegar.
- Add a few drops of essential oil like lavender, rosemary, or lemongrass.
- Apply to a clean face.
- Let it dry for 20 minutes.
- Rinse off with warm water.
- Apply a high-quality, organic moisturizer like The Alitura Moisturizer after to protect the skin and balance sebum production.
- It’s recommended to use the clay mask once or twice per week for best results. We, of course, recommend the Alitura Clay Mask. With its four different types of clay and other amazing ingredients, we truly believe it’s the best clay mask on the market.