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How to care for you skin with clay masks

When it comes to skincare treatments, it doesn't get more natural than clay masks. Clay is a natural substance (if your garden has clay soil, you know exactly what it is!) with a slightly grainy texture. That texture helps with exfoliation, while the nutrients in the clay tone, firm, and nourish the skin. Perhaps most importantly, clay is famous for its ability to draw dirt, oils and toxins, resulting in deeply cleansed and softened skin.

Give yourself a clay mask now and then -- once or twice a week is a good routine. It's a relaxing, enjoyable ritual that results in cleaner, softer, lovelier skin! Here's how:

  • Wash your face with warm water and soap or a natural cleanser. This gives the mask a clean start, allowing for better penetration. (If you like, you can even begin with anherbal steam facial, to really cleanse and open your pores.) Pat dry.
  • Put about a tablespoon or two of clay in a bowl. Add enough water* to make a paste. The mixture should be just thick enough to spread. (If you make it too thick, it won't dry on your skin. Too thin, and it'll run off.)
  • Apply the paste with your fingertips, covering all of the skin except the skin around your eyes.
  • Allow the paste to dry. (This is a good time to lie down and relax!) Depending on how thick the mixture is, this can take 10 to 30 minutes.
  • Rinse the clay off with warm water. Use a wet washcloth to finish up, if needed. Follow with a rinse of cool water, to close the pores. If you like, finish with a natural toner and/or moisturizer.

* Note: Instead of water, you might use an herbal infusion (calendula to soften and smooth, lavender to cleanse and moisturize, marshmallow root to soften, peppermint to cool and refresh, for example). You can also make clay masks with other liquid ingredients -- such as milk or yogurt, honey, juices, and egg whites. And you can incorporate other nourishing ingredients, such as oats.

For best results, it's important to use quality clays. Quality clays are pure (free of contamination, with no coloring or other additives), and they are processed in a way that maintains their mineral content. There are a variety of clays, each with its own special strength. Here are some options:

Bentonite Clay Powder

Considered one of the finest of all clays, Bentonite clay powder is also known as Montmorillonite. Suitable for all skin types, it refreshes and cleanses. You'll find it's also used for making poultices and mud packs and is often included in skincare recipes and baths.

French Green Clay Powder

With its high mineral and nutrient content and micro molecules (which enhance absorption), French green clay powder is often used in skincare treatments such as facial masks and body packs at spas. Because it's very absorbent, it's especially good for oily skin. This clay tones, stimulates, and cleanses the pores.

French Red Clay Powder

Similar to French green clay powder but richer in iron oxide (hence the color), French red clay powder is best for normal to oily or combination skin. Red clay softens and tones. Sensitive or mature skins also benefit from the ability of red clay to refresh the skin.

French White Clay Powder

The gentlest of the clays, French white clay powder is cleansing, soothing and softening. Less absorbent than other clays, white clay is suitable for normal as well as sensitive skins. French white clay powder is also used as a deodorant powder and an alternative to talc powder.

Kaolin Clay Powder

A very mild clay, Kaolin or China clay powder (yes, it's the main component of china dishes) gently cleanses and exfoliates without drawing oil, making it perfect for sensitive skin types. At the same time, its astringent effect is suitable for normal to oily skin. In addition to clay masks, the fine, fluffy powder is used in body powders and deodorants, soap products, and body packs.

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