Cleopatra's Beauty Secret: Clay Masks

Clay masks have been around forever and despite how wonderful they are for your skin, many women have never tried them.  There are a multitude of  different types of masks available: sheet masks, overnight masks, gel masks, cream masks and balm masks. They all are beneficial but read on to learn more about clay and why a clay mask might be a great addition to your skin care routine.

From antiquity clay has been used for medicinal healing, wound and skin care. Cleopatra was known to frequently use clay masks for whole body beautifying treatments. Records show as far back as 2500 BC, clay was used medicinally for inflammation and infection, as well as for beauty treatments. In recent history  clay has been studied for its bacteria fighting ability in wound care. It is most notable for it ability to draw out toxins from the body and skin. When environmental toxins come into contact with the skin, they can become lodged in the pores and result in inflammation. Masks that contain clay can remove bacteria, sebum and dirt from the pores. At the same time, clay also exfoliates dead skin cells and blackheads and increases circulation leaving your skin feeling rejuvenated, clean and glowing.

Clay is a fine grain (less than 2 micrometers) and much smaller than a grain of sand.   It is a naturally occurring material that results from the weathering and erosion of rocks. Many different types of clay exist with various  mineral compositions. They also differ in their ability to absorb or adsorb. ABsorption is the ability to attract and pull components into itself whereas  ADsorbtion is the ability to attract and pull components onto its surface. Some clays do one or the other and some  do both.  A clay that is more absorbent will pull more moisture and oil from the skin making it a more drying clay and thus better  suited for oily skin. Adsorbent clays remove less water and oil making them more suitable for dry and sensitive skin.

Clays contain many different minerals including Silica, a very important trace mineral.  Silica is found abundantly in plants and the human body and is necessary for the production of collagen.  Other minerals commonly found in clay include: magnesium, calcium, potassium, sodium, zinc and iron.  The mineral content determines the color of the clay. Mineral composition is determined by a number of factors including:

  • composition of the soil
  • where the clay was mined
  • the type rocks the clay originated from
  • chemical weathering

The primary benefit of a clay mask is its ability to clear skin pores by drawing toxins from the skin.  This occurs because clay has a negative electrical charge and minerals as well as the dirt and impurities on our skin have a positive electrical charge. Electrically charged particles are attracted to oppositely charged particles.   When water is added to clay it becomes activated and the negatively charged clay attracts  positively charged minerals to its surface. Once we apply the wet clay to our skin, an exchange occurs causing the dirt, excess sebum, bacteria and other impurities to swap places with the minerals. The impurities attach to the clay and are then washed away while the good minerals stay behind.  In addition, clay provides gentle exfoliation and leaves skin soft and glowing. The electrical charge of clay is also responsible for stimulating circulation which improves nourishment to skin cells.

 Many varieties of clay exist and each type provides different benefits depending on its chemical makeup. In general there are three main types of clay:  Illite, Kaolinite and Montmorillonite. Most clays are a mixture of these three but all clays will have their own unique chemical makeup determined by the mineral content. In our Flower Powder Rejuvenating Clay Mask we use a combination of White Kaolin and Pink Clay.

 Kaolin is also known as China Clay because it is the main component in porcelain. It is frequently used in mineral makeup such as powder foundations as well as natural soaps, body powders and deodorants and is a good substitute for cornstarch or talc in baby products. Kaolin is a very soft clay and thought to be the most gentle of all the clays making it suitable for every skin type. Because it is less absorbent and more adsorbent than some other clays, it doesn't draw out an abundance of oil from the skin, making it a good choice for sensitive and dry skin. It is composed predominately of the mineral Kaolinite but usually contains quartz and mica, silica and may also include feldspar, illite and montmorillonite. 

 Named after a hill in China (Kao-ling) where it was initially mined, it is also found in France, England, Germany, Czech Republic, and in the United States mostly in the southeastern states specifically Georgia. Kaolin is Georgia's largest natural resource and Georgia is a world leader in the mining of Kaolin.

 Pink Clay is a combination of white kaolin and red kaolin. Red Kaolin is slightly more absorbent than white but when combined with white kaolin to form Pink Clay it is still considered  to be a very mild clay. Pink clay has a high amount of silica which can be helpful in improving skin elasticity and cellular turnover. It is best for sensitive, mature, irritated, and normal- dry skin. In addition to silica it is composed of Kaolinite, Iron, Illite, Montmorillonite and Calcite.  The iron oxide is what gives it the pink hue.  

Flower Powder Clay Mask, made with White Kaolin and Pink Clay, could be just what you need in your skin care routine.  To learn more about the other ingredients in this rejuvenating mask and how to use it check out this blog post.

Be well friends!

Tenli

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