Friday, 18 October 2013

The Mighty Five - Clay Mud Masks (You might be using them wrong!)

As a huge fan of skincare I regularly partake in skin pampering treatments and like a true addict my eyes are always open for the next, new thing to include in my already extensive beauty regiment. 

Face masks are one of my favorite skin-loving indulgences and as luck would have it, using them regularly and properly can make a world of difference when it comes to my sometimes irrational complexion. Today's beauty industry offers a mind-boggling array of treatment masks to pamper, revitalize and treat various skin problems that might be making you miserable. With a little information, research and direction you can find a great mask at any budget to deal with just about anything. The variety of formula types and ingredients used are the key to making the right choice when it comes to your specific skin type or the issue you want to tackle, meaning that taking a little time to familiarize yourself with the brand and product itself can be invaluable. 

If you have oily, acne-prone skin or just want to purify and deep clean then clay masks could be your best friends. This seemingly simple but profoundly powerful ingredient, clay, has been used for both medicinal and cosmetic purposes in many cultures for many centuries. Clay masks are excellent when it comes to removing excess oil, neutralizing impurities and toxins, tightening enlarged pores and even stimulating blood circulation. Essentially it gets rid of dead skin from the skin surface and at the same time gives you a huge radiance boost. So, no matter what your skin type is, a good clay mask is a must-have in your beauty arsenal! 

I have been using clay, mud masks for years but only recently did I learn that I have actually been using them the wrong way all this time - and even doing more harm then good to my own skin! Apparently the directions on the tube are not precise enough nor are they complete! Lovely :-(
The error of my ways was pointed out to me during a routine salon facial treatment and a little bit of dermatological research confirmed my mistake quite easily. 

What it comes down to is the fact that there are three phases of a clay mask;

1. Damp Phase - skin cells take in good-for-you treatment minerals from the mask medium

2. Dry Phase - exercises capillaries and stimulates blood flow as the mask cools and controls 

3. Final Dry Phase - skin starts to lose moisture through dehydration and may even result in irritation (dry, tight, itchy skin)

The first two phases are the beneficial steps, which is what you want to gain from the clay mask itself but the third step is one that needs to be avoided since it practically counteracts any good results you might get from the first two. The simple way to avoid the last stage is to rinse or remove the mask before it reaches the flaky, dried out state. 
When you start to see it drying (which usually means it gets lighter in color) but it still feels a bit sticky, it's time to wash it off with a damp, warm washcloth. Follow up with a light toning step to remove any residue and apply a rich, soothing moisturizer to bring moisture back in to your skin cells and seal in all the benefits from the healing mud.
Once I adjusted my clay mask pampering routine I have definitively seen more benefits and results from the masks themselves. Just that little change and a bit more vigilance on my part has made a world of difference and I am sure it will do the same for you guys as well!

In honor of this little tidbit of new skincare knowledge I wanted to start the Mighty Five series which will feature and spotlight five products from my own beauty stash that are getting the most use at the moment. What better way to start than with Clay Treatment Masks!

Bioelements Restorative Clay Natural Face Mask ($35.00 for 2.5 oz)

This is what I call a traditional, basic deep-cleansing clay mud mask. It works great for removing excess oil and toxins from the skin, improves skin texture and makes pores appear less visible. The recommended use is 2-3 times a week and the company helpfully indicates that if used at that regularity, one jar should last at least six months. Keeping that in mind I think the price is more than fair for a professional skincare product and definitively worth the initial investment. The texture of the clay is a little thicker than most masks but even as such remains easy to work with and feels cool on the skin surface. The scent is subtle, the clay feels comfortable on the skin itself, drying time is about 10 minutes and the mask is easily removed with a warm washcloth. The clay can also be used as a blemish spot treatment, yielding excellent results. The Bioelements Restorative Mask is something I use when my skin needs a very deep-cleanse or simply feels congested or oily. Its really a lovely basic, clay mask that delivers the results it promises and I would recommend it wholeheartedly!

Michael Todd True Organics Kaolin Clay Detoxifying Facial Mask ($34.00 for 3.4 oz)

As the name indicates this is a purifying, detoxifying soft clay mask with French green, white and pink Kaolin clay as the main active ingredient. The formula is a lot more gentle than some of the other typical deep cleansing masks but for me that's where the charm of this brand really is. The softer texture and milder nature means that this would be a great choice for those with more sensitive skin that usually suffer irritation from other similar masks. The biggest perk of this Michael Todd Kaolin Mask is its smoothing properties, meaning that it works amazingly well to improve skin texture and tone by detoxification and pore tightening. I love that the brand uses natural, organic ingredients in all of their products and is a great example that we don't need chemicals to treat and transform a troublesome complexion

Pure+simple Purifying French Clay Mask ($21.95 for 50 ml)

This mask is yet another example of how great natural ingredients can come together in an expert formula to deliver phenomenal and yet gentle results for all skin types. The French clay works great because of its unique ability to remove excess oil and toxins from the skin cells without over-drying or irritation that is sometimes common with other clay masks. This particular formula is ideal for individuals that are dealing with blemishes, skin congestion and dehydrated skin, which is actually a really common combination even with those who consider themselves as oily skin types. What I love about the Pure+simple Purifying French Clay Mask is that its very gentle and seems to significantly reduce the redness from my ruddy cheeks even after just one use. Seeing how the Pure+simple brand is Canadian I am a little biased in my affection for them but anyone who has either used their products or experienced one of their holistically based facial treatments is bound to be completely smitten by this environmentally conscious, natural company. 

Dr. Hauschka Cleansing Clay Mask ($49.95 for 3.06 oz)

This particular cleansing clay mask requires a little bit of DIY on your part prior to use but I think that is exactly what makes this formula unique and appealing in its own way. What you are working with is a combination of finely ground clay blended with witch hazel and extracts of natural nasturtium which creates a potent, concentrated formula that is capable of treating blemishes, blackheads and various impurities hanging around your pores. The clay particles mixed with water create a deeply cleansing medium that purifies, softens and even gently exfoliates the skin surface with each treatment. Since each mask portion is made fresh this means that you can control the texture, potency and amount used which albeit messy also elevates the facial experience to a spa-like level. Dr. Hauschka Skin Care is definitively on the pricy side however their mission and commitment to natural ingredients, well-being of the environment, fair-trade initiatives and ecologically sound methods for everything they do; is more than admirable and makes their products worth the investment.  

Marcelle Essentials Clay Mask ($14.50 for 3.7 oz)

I am a huge Marcelle fan (read my Canadian Beauty brand feature here!) and even though they are technically considered a drug-store brand I think the quality and products they offer put them in a much higher brand bracket than they are given credit for. The price point and reputation of the Essentials Clay Mask is definitively underrated especially when you consider that the performance and results the formula gives can compete with treatment masks with a much higher price tag. This does it all: absorbs oil, removes toxins due to congestion, smooths skin texture, refines pores in the T-zone and works amazingly well as a overnight spot treatment. The texture is creamy, making it easy to spread out and work with but its also thick enough to make the removal process a breeze as well. The results are almost instant and regular use makes a huge difference when it comes to radiance and healthy glow. The compliments keep coming! 
After all it did win the In Style Best Beauty Buy 2012 Award!  

Now that I shared my new found clay mask tip and my favorite picks its your turn! 
What is your most used cleansing clay mask? 

Thank you for reading! 



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