This article is excerpted from the Mar/Apr 2004 issue of The Essential Herbal.
It is written by Kibby Mitra and Wendy Robbins of From Nature With Love
Clays have been used for centuries as a method to help beautify the skin. They are available as a fine powder and are present in almost all traditional beauty regimens. They exfoliate, clean and invigorate the skin while improving blood circulation. Clay has the ability to absorb excess oils, dirt and harmful toxins from the skin. The addition of herbs add even greater benefit.
Cosmetic clays are made up of different mineral contents, and each clay type has a different effect on the skin. The high mineral content of clay rejuvenates the skin while the clay exfoliates and stimulates blood circulation to the skin. Regular use of clay facials will remove dead skin cells, improve circulation to the skin, remove drbris from the pores and bring about a smooth healthy glow. Each clay has the ability to absorb toxins from the skin, but they differ in their level of absorption.
Clays are commonly used in facials, but they can also be added to body powders and soaps. Cosmetic clays come in beautiful hues including pink, deep red, light sage green, yellow, white, gray and blue. This array of colors makes them a popular choice for use as a natural colorant in soap, lotions, creams and bath salts.
Clays that are suitable for dry, sensitive or normal skin are Pink Kaolin, White Kaolin, Yellow Kaolin, and Rose. Clays that are suitable for oily skin are Bentonite, French Green, Green Illite, Red Kaolin, Blue Montmorillonite, Red Montmorillonite, Moroccan Red, and Multani Mitti (Indian Fullers Earth). Clays that are suitable for all skin types are Dead Sea, Rhassoul and Sea clays.
When purchasing clays, be sure to purchase clays that are cosmetic or medicinal grade. Technical grade clays often have dangerously high content levels of lead and should be avoided.
The following facial mask recipe is easy to make and can be customized to suit your specific skin type and personal preferences.
CLAY FACIAL MASK RECIPE
2-3 oz cosmetic clay
1-2 oz. powdered herb
water or hydrosol
1-2 drops essential oil added at the time of application (optional)
Choose a cosmetic clay and herbs that are suitable for your skin type. Citrus peel powders add astringency, rose petal powder adds fragrance, yellow sandawood powder helps dry skin and neem powder helps acne. Other ingredients that can be added are milk powders, honey powder, oatmeal and sea vegetables. Mix the powdered ingredients to make 4 oz. of dry clay facial and store in a 4 oz. jar. Clay facial masks should not be stored pre-mixed with the wetting agent. To use, add approximately 1/2 oz. of the dry clay facial herb blend to a small bowl and mix enough warm water or hydrosol to make a paste. Add a drop or two of essential oil if desired. Apply to the skin in a gentle circular motion, and leave it to dry for about 15 - 20 minutes. Wash off with warm water, If the skin feels tight, a light oil such as camelina can be applied afterwards. Experiment with other wetting agents. Strawberry puree will act like an alpha-hydroxy. Cucumber puree cools the skin. Yogurt cools, and softens the skin, and milk removes dead skin cells and softens the skin.