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What a clay face mask can do for your face

The clay face mask has undergone a bit of a renaissance. Remember when it was primarily used to absorb excess oil and draw out impurities? Those were the days when faces literally cracked (mine included) with a stiff, white veil that somehow always seemed to leave a faint residue even after multiple rinses. Well, today’s clay masks deliver a range of effective skincare treatments that transcend every-day concerns to niche problems. As formulas evolve, there could come a time when humble clay goes head-to-head with the ever-popular sheet mask. 

We had a bit of a mask fest in our house last year when I purchased a triple pack of tubed clay treatments. The ingredients were quite mind-blowing - for a skincare staple that seemed to lose its way and settle in the ‘boring’ category. Think beyond dead sea minerals and cucumber to brightening Vitamin C, black sugar, oatmeal, clarifying niacinamide, and hydrating properties like avocado oil. 

Purifying and detoxifying clay face masks with applicator

Single-use mask pouches threaten to be overtaken by multi-use vegan clay treatments in pots, jars and tubes. Bigger purchases are on the rise. Pink clay, with its ability to devour toxins and tighten pores in almost an instant, led the charge; it paved the way for innovative concepts and new products.

So, what’s changed with clay and why is this traditional skincare saviour back in vogue?

Next level cleansing with a clay face mask

Clay has always been associated with the removal of oil and impurities from the skin. In the past, a mask has been the go-to for those attempting to combat blackheads, breakouts and acne. As well as having the power to absorb grease and grime, it left the skin feeling refreshed.

Today, a clay face mask can decongest the skin while exfoliating it - a great option if you are looking to power up your detox cleansing routine. Used once or twice a week, this type of mask brightens the complexion while, at the same time, smoothing it. Other benefits include pore minimisation.

So, if (like me) you use cleansing techniques as the cornerstone of an anti-ageing regimen, clay is worth revisiting. As well as offering a deep cleanse, it removes dead skin cells and tones, providing multiple overall benefits. 

For those looking to treat skin conditions, clay delivers results in a format that can be fitted into any routine.

Modern formulas are made with a skin type in mind. That is why there is a clay treatment for every kind of skin - from combination to dull and from blemish prone to sensitive. 

Tubed face masks with a pot of pink clay mask plus two mask applicators on a white background

Does a clay face mask dry out the skin?

Yes and no. Traditional masks are very drying because clay is naturally absorbent. They are going to soak up oils the skin needs to stay healthy as well as the troublesome ones. Many modern masks include hydrating ingredients. However, overall, you should always use a moisturiser after completing a mask treatment

Choosing a treatment with the right type of clay for your skin can prevent over-drying. For example, if you have mature or naturally dry skin, opt for a mask with kaolin clay. On the other hand, if your skin is oily, bentonite clay should be your go-to. Some masks contain more than one type of clay. Before purchasing, find out which makes up the bulk of the content.

I recently tried Beauty Bay’s Kaolin Clay + PHA Face Mask. This combination product brings together all the benefits of a gentle clay treatment with an effective exfoliant. Sold in a large 95ml pot and retailing for just £10, it delivers a deep-down clean at an affordable price. 

Once applied, the product took around 12 minutes to dry. Forget pure, brilliant white, this mask dried down to a beautiful tan colour. It was effortless to rinse off, a pleasant deviation from old school masks. My skin was left clean and refreshed, with tighter pores and no redness. 

This clay face mask can be used up to three times a week, but I would only recommend using it more than once a week if you have oily or combination skin. Use at night after your regular cleansing routine and before applying a toner, serum and moisturiser. 

Beauty Bay’s Kaolin Clay + PHA Face Mask
Beauty Bay’s Kaolin Clay + PHA Face Mask

Modern clay face mask treatments

‘Purifying’, ‘transformative’ and ‘retexturising’ are all buzzwords in the clay mask sector right now. Look out for products with ingredients like basil, ginger and caffeine if you want to purify your skin. Rosehip, lavender and sage are found in many firming masks. Jojoba beads and herbs, including willow, are found in some masks that improve the texture of the skin. 

If you are buying a pot or jar, invest in an applicator brush. As well as ensuring even coverage, it will make your product go a long way. It's just too easy to apply too much, unevenly, when you use your fingers.

As a multitasker, the clay mask has few rivals. Often affordable, nearly always effective and easy to use, it’s no wonder it plays a key role in pamper nights. The real benefits, however, are seen with regular use. So make pampering part of your self-care ritual and find the time for a clay face mask every week. 

A beauty blogger trying out a gentle clay face mask by Beauty Bay
Tryying not to smile - how Beauty Bay’s Kaolin Clay + PHA Face Mask dried on my skin

Disclaimer: Always patch test a new mask on a small area of your skin before applying it to your face.


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