Natural beauty: how to make a purifying clay face mask

There are a couple times throughout the year when my skin – I am guessing due to stress, decides to suddenly get weird and turn oily and dry at the same time, and constellation-like breakouts decorate my face as if I were going through that not-so-pretty adolescent phase we’ve all dreaded at some point in our lives. I usually have a nice, smooth complexion, so these random outbursts are quite pestering (not to mention that I am the kind of person who can’t resist scratching and touching their pimples – duh).
I have been using natural and chemical-free products since I was 16, so I never resort to meds or chemicals to get rid of my skin problems. I used clay before, but I completely forgot about it until my mom came home with a bag of green French clay and put it in my hands, saying ‘here. I used to use it all the time when I was young – for cellulite, too. It’ll help with that acne of yours.”
So I started re-incorporating it into my beauty routine, and I cannot even describe how smooth and luminous my skin is after my weekly clay mask!  It works way, WAY better than anything you can buy in a pharmacy – especially when you add in other nourishing natural ingredients.
Let us see how nature can help us with reducing one of the peskiest things you can get on your face.

THE WONDERFUL PROPERTIES OF CLAY

Clay has been used for centuries for its amazing properties: it is used to clean, detoxify, remineralize and regenerate the body inside-out. In the middle east, clay has always been used for washing and nourishing the hair, and it is still used to make natural soap, as a natural disinfectant for cleaning, as a detox drink, as a skin purifying and nourishing mask, as an anti-cellulite scrub…and in many other ways! It is truly a wonderful product of the earth, which once again proves how nature abounds with clean, super-effective remedies.

HOW IT WORKS
In short, clay binds to all toxins – both outside and inside your body, as some clays are also edible and used for internal cleansing, and draws everything out, while giving off its numerous minerals that are extremely nourishing and beneficial for the body. Amazing, uh?

How to Make a Purifying Clay Mask

TYPES OF CLAY FOR SKINCARE

Kaolin Clay: comes in white, pink, red and yellow versions. The color is determined by the various minerals they are made of. White clay is the most delicate of all, and is recommended for sensitive skin. It is perfect for treating redness, softening the skin and brightening the complexion. It has anti-aging and anti-redness properties and, because it does not draw too much oil from the skin, it is perfect for people with dry skin who still need to nourish it with minerals and get rid of toxins.
French Green Clay: Green clay has strong absorbing and purifying properties, making it the perfect option for people with acne and oily skin. A green clay mask will suck every single blackhead out of your face! It is not the strongest, but it might not be the best option for people with sensitive skin.
Rhassoul Moroccan Clay: In my opinion, one of the most amazing products of the earth: its name comes from the Moroccan word ‘to wash’, and it has an incredible amount of minerals (it contains the highest quantity of silica, magnesium, potassium and calcium) and strong absorbing properties. It absorbs dirt so well that it is used instead of shampoo to wash hair as well, usually paired with Argan oil to avoid dryness. At the same time, its remineralizing properties are so remarkable that it reduces dryness and, when paired to a nourishing oil,  it makes for a great skin and hair moisturizer. It improves skin elasticity and smoothness.
Extra fine Bentonite clay: Bentonite clay is also for internal use (yes, you can make a clay drink! Yum!) as it binds all toxins and, while it expels them, it releases in the body all of its precious minerals that are beneficial for gut, hair and bone health. It also has a strong alkalizing power, contrasting acidity in the body. Aside drinking it or putting it on your face, you can also use it to rinse your mouth, much as you would use mouthwash, to get rid of bacteria.

How to Make a Purifying Clay Mask

How to Make a Purifying Clay Mask

TIPS FOR MAKING AND APPLYING YOUR MASK

1) Do not let it dry fully
You should not get to the point where your mask gets pale, dry and crumbly on your face. We want our clay to draw out toxins and dirt, but if it dries too much it will only suck out all the water it can from your face, without giving off its minerals and beneficial properties. Make sure you always put on a very thick layer of clay and keep it on for a minimum of 8 to a maximum of 15-20 minutes, depending on what clay you are using and on your skin type. When the time is up, you should feel a bit of that tightening feeling on your face, but the clay should still look wet on top. this way, the skin will absorb all of the mask’s nutrients. Obviously, never re-use clay a second time, as it will have collected all of your skin’s toxins.
2) add hydrating and healthy ingredients for your skin
this includes oils, essential oils, infused oils, honey and gels like aloe and linseed. See below for suggestions on what to add. If you soaked or cooked organic rice or oats (and I mean organic) in water, use the starchy water to add to your mask and to wash your face at the end. It has incredible smoothing and illuminating properties!
3) Always start from a clean face
Before putting on your mask, clean your face well. I suggest you swab your face with cotton imbibed with chamomile, rosewater, or starchy rice water to avoid using chemical cleansers.
4) No straight acidic ingredients
Lemon juice or vinegar have great astringent properties, but they can interfere with the action of the mask. Instead, use powders like rose hip or powdered vitamin C, or pomegranate, lemon or orange essential oils.
5) Avoid metal
Use a wooden or ceramic bowl and spoon. Metal reacts with the minerals in the clay, so always avoid it when preparing your mask.

How to Make a Purifying Clay Mask

HEALTHY ADDITIONS TO YOUR MASK

You can make a perfectly effective clay mask by just mixing clay and water. But, given the chance, why not boost it a little more? you can…
Replace infusions for water: it is a great idea to use herbal infusions as the liquid part whenever you need to make a beauty mask. Chamomile and Lavender have strong anti-redness and brightening properties, while Calendula has also skin-repairing effects, and is used to treat scars and wounds. All plants that are astrologically associated to the planet Venus are great for skincare. Rosemary, thyme and sage have antibacterial and balancing properties and are great for oily skin with acne. Using black tea, which has astringent properties, is good for oily skin. Herbs can be obviously mix-and-matched, though I would not pair more than 2.
Add oils: which you should do even if you have oily skin! The reason why most oils will not be a problem in the case of oily skin is that the fat molecules are larger than the pores, therefore the skin can absorb the minerals while keeping the oil out. The best oils to use are extra virgin olive oil, almond oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, argan oil, jojoba oil, apricot kernel oil…most oils that are not industrial and have beneficial properties are good. If you have oily skin, olive oil could be a little heavy – choose almond or argan instead. Infused oils are, needless to say, even better! Choose the oil you like better and infuse it with the herbs that could be most beneficial to your skin type, and you’ll have a natural remedy always at the ready.
Essential oils: essential oils are true pocketfuls of condensed beneficial and medicinal properties. Adding 2-3 drops of essential oils can boost any beauty mask with an incredible amount of nutrients. Just be very careful to never use them as is – always add them to something or dilute them in another oil, as they can be irritating. Also be careful of any citrus oil, as they react to sunlight and can irritate your skin if you go out in the sun immediately after using them.
Here is a list of essential oils that are great additions to facial masks:
~ For all kinds of skin: chamomile, lavender, rose, neroli, cedar wood, jasmine
~ For oily skin: basil, rosemary, ylang ylang, lemon, mint, grapefruit
~ For dry skin: carrot, vetiver, sandalwood, patchouli
Nourishing additions: purifying masks have the goal to take out the dirt and give off its minerals, so, because there is already nourishment given by the oils and honey in this mask and there is no need to make it heavier, I really think these additions are best saved for a nourishing mask. Still, adding them can only be good for your skin, so if you have them on hand go ahead and add them! consider Aloe gel, coconut butter, powdered indian herbs like Neem, Nagar or Tulsi, rosehip powder.

How to Make a Purifying Clay Mask

How to Make a Purifying Clay Mask

And now on to the recipe! Because this is a detoxifying and purifying mask, it is best when made during a waning or new moon. According to biodynamics, the best time for purifying masks and any facial treatment is when the waning moon enters the constellation of Capricorn, or when the waxing moon enters the constellation of Gemini (which would be Thu 26 / Fri 27th, if you want to mark your calendars).

Basic Purifying Clay Mask
 
Basic formula that can be changed according to your skin type
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp powdered clay (choose the kind of clay according to your skin type and needs)
  • 1 tsp Chamomile, Lemon & vanilla infused oil (or other oil of choice)
  • 1 tsp Honey (skip if vegan)
  • Herbal infusion of choice, enough to make a thick paste (you can drink the leftovers!)
  • 5 drops essential oil of choice
Instructions
  1. Add the clay to a ceramic or wooden bowl and using a ceramic or wooden spoon, and add a couple tablespoons of liquid. Let it stand for some 10 minutes - the clay will start absorbing the water on its own. Mix the clay vigorously, and, if needed, add enough liquid to make a thick paste. It should not be runny, as you should be able to 'plaster' it on your face in a thick layer. At this point you can add the honey, oil and essential oil if using.
  2. Put it on your clean face, and leave it on for 8-10 minutes if using Rhassoul or bentonite, 15 minutes if using green clay or kaolin with normal skin, 20 minutes if using kaolin with oily skin.
  3. Wash it off without rubbing your face harshly - rinse it off delicately with warm water, and finish off with starchy rice water, with a tonic or flower water. Put on a delicate moisturizer to finish the job properly.

How to Make a Purifying Clay Mask

 

 

  1. How beautiful you are??? Btw, my skin is always oily and dry at the same time and I think my hormonal issues are the cause for these little pimples every other day.
    Ps : your props are just perfect *_____*

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  3. Wow! This was such a pleasant surprise! You made me remember this thing my mom used a couple of times when I was little called the “head clay” as shampoo. I think they used it before there was any shampoo. She found it in a herbalist shop.
    This is sooo sooooo beautiful, creative and natural. And oh my god you look absolutely radiant and dazzling!
    Here come my questions:
    What is clay here in Italy and where to find it? erboristeria? Same things about the oils.
    I really want to try and do this. I’ve been eating for about 4 years now but I had never thought about che chemicals in normal beauty routine. This sounds easy and amazing :)

    • Ciao Saghar! :D
      I’d be surprised if your mom didn’t know about clay, given your origins! :) I seriously love clay.
      Here in Italy, you can find it in any Erboristeria! ask for ‘argilla bianca’ or ‘argilla verde’, they usually have both. If you want the drinking clay, ask for ‘argilla ventilata’. They sell Rhassoul at all eco-bio shops (I guess at Naturasí too?)

  4. love the post! i was just thinking about reintroducing clay masks back into my routine, thanks for the inspiration. xx

  5. Perfect timing! I made a liter of calendula infused olive oil last summer but I kept procrastinating since I didn’t know exactly for what to use it, but this post is just on time (for my skin as well). I will give it a try with zeolite first (I have it at hand) and later also with clay. Thank you!

    • AMAZING!! Calendula oil is one of the most useful thing you can possibly have in your pantry! I’ll make a post about it when it’ll be in season. You can put it on rashes, on scars and wounds to make them heal quicker, or you can use it against skin irritations (on babies, too).
      I actually did not mention Zeolite because I couldn’t find much info about it in US websites, but I am really curious to try it…
      Thanks :)

    • Valentina, I was so inspired by this post I infused lemon peels into olive oil! A month later the oil tastes like liquid lemon (absolutely amazing!) and it’s so yellow and I use it for my hands and I’ve also used it in a recipe for potica (best known Slovenian festive cake) that called for a lemon peel and olive oil, so I just put the lemon infused oil in :) Thank you again!

  6. Why do we always forget to use the things that work for us? I have bentonite clay hanging in my bathroom cupboard…unused for eons. I’m going to dust it off…thanks for the inspiration. Your posts are always so beautiful!

    • Eheh how true is that?! We likely have tons of amazing things in our pantry or garden just waiting yo be used! Definitely take the dust off that clay! :D
      Thank you so much for your sweet comment!!

  7. Thanks for this idea! My sometimes oily, sometimes dry, sometimes just too sensitive skin has always responded well to clay masks (as long as I follow them with a light moisturiser) but I never thought of making my own one. I tried this one today and my skin feels lovely and soft. As I had a bit left I decided to spread it over my décolletage and I think it made wonders to it – the skin feels radiant!

    • Wow Gemma, so happy it worked!! Though I had no doubt – my skin is pretty much like yours. And anything chamomile, calendula or honey works wonders for sensitive skin :)

  8. Valentina, I like your blogs, however, your information on eating clay is wrong. I am a Registered Nurse and had a patient In Intensive Care die from eating clay. We could not save her, the clay was so toxic. Please don’t tell people to eat clay.

    • Hi Mary Ann, thanks for pointing this out. Of course, by no means I mean that people should eat clay! What lots of people do is let a tsp of clay rest in a cup of water overnight and only drink the filtered, mineralized water, and not the sediment. But it always helps to be precise when giving info, thanks for reminding me that!

  9. This is wonderful and I like to use as many natural ingredients in my beauty routine as possible. I did a post not long ago about the same subject because I had found a natural clay and banana mask at a local market a few weeks back which I mixed with camomile infusion and honey for my winter skin. I also absolutely love using pure, organic coconut oil as a body butter, it works wonders on my inherited skin problems. :-)

    • Hi Carole!
      Well, thanks to your comment I discovered your blog and…just WOW. I am pinning the heck out of everything! I love it!
      And yes to everything you said! :) honey and yogurt are probably the single most effective ingredients in everybody’s pantry! If only coconut oil was a bit cheaper in Italy…meh.

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  11. I like diy facial mask and now using facial mask with oatmeal, egg and apple. The recipe is very easy and effective. Ingredients: Apple, Egg Yolk, Oatmeal. Blend these 3 ingredients well. Spread the mixture all over your face. Let the mixture stay for about 20-30 minutes. Rinse it off with pure water. That’s all. You can try this recipe.

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  14. I just bought some pink and green clay and infused a herbal by instinct. I googled this because I was wondering about oil to add to, but this is such a great guide – thank you! ☺️

  15. Can this be made a head of time? If so, Would I be able to leave it in a shut jar? Should it be refrigerated?

    • Hi Amanda! You can make this a little ahead of time, but not by too much. Put it in a jar, spray or sprinkle a little water on it, close the jar not too tightly and store in the fridge. This way, it should be fine (I did leave it overnight before and was still good the day before. It should stay soft. Otherwise, the clay goes hard pretty quickly. Try and see how long it keeps in the fridge! :)

    • Actually, yes. I recommend not doing these more than once a week, or you might have the opposite effect! While clay is perfect for sucking excess fat off your face, doing clay masks too often might draw out too much moisture from your skin and damage it. Once a week is absolutely perfect for great results! :)

  16. Hi! Thank you so much for really informative info on clay. Are clays ok to be mixed with metal spoons?
    I see under tips you advise for not using metal, but I see a metal spoon in your images.
    Thanks for the clarification.

  17. Wow, I just found this website by googling clay mask recipes. I must say, your blog is beautiful and I’m tripping out because in your photos you look exactly like this woman named Aya from the blog Strawberry Koi!

  18. Perfect timing! I made a liter of calendula infused olive oil last summer but I kept procrastinating since I didn’t know exactly for what to use it, but this post is just on time (for my skin as well). I will give it a try with zeolite first (I have it at hand) and later also with clay. Thank you!

  19. In your article (which I Love by the way), you say..

    5) Avoid metal
    Use a wooden or ceramic bowl and spoon. Metal reacts with the minerals in the clay, so always avoid it when preparing your mask.

    …but in the picture right underneath, it shows a clearly metal spoon mixing up the moistened clay. It’s a beautiful photo, but it seems directly contradictory to your instructions.

    Anywayyy, I have been trying my own Clay Mask recipe and although it came out well, it is a bit clumpy. Is this normal?

    • I know, that was my personal photography fail!!

      Anyway, the concoction should be rather smooth! Just stir it very well and it should be all right :) If there are some clumps left, I usually smooth them out with the back of the spoon.

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  23. Hello if I wanted to make a dry clay maaamd jar it is there a way of doing that while adding chamomile to it or lavender?

  24. Thank you – great info! very inspiring! … I’ve been experimenting with herbal infused oils and honeys and clays… (recently) …

    I’m curious about adding the oil and honey to clay. .. so far i have just tried adding the honey (and this is great! a nice moist mask – i tried it with kaolin and also with Multani Mitti – that makes a nice “mud”) but i have not tried yet combining oil. .. Do you think the oil (and honey) helps to deliver the minerals from the clay to the skin? .. and i’m guessing this would be more of a wet masque as it would not fully dry. .. and as you said, it is best to avoid allowing the masque to dry completely anyway. ..

    ps: Adding the honey definitely helps to preserve. .. Even after adding my water/infusion, the last clay i mask i made about a month ago doesn’t seem off at all! .. surprising. .. but i did put a lot of honey

    pss: my mom and grandparents are from northern italy. .. i found it fascinating to hear about your country side! .. (wow!) :) .. i live in british columbia and have never been to italy. (but i have the love for all things italian!) :)