For many of us, our teens consisted of a time where we were just getting acquainted with skincare. Not by choice, but by necessity. We were hormonal, and purging. These new-fangled zits had us combing the drugstore aisles looking for a miracle cure — the cleanser, the spot treatment, the overly-drying toner. Then, we discovered clay masks.
Clay masks are amazing for drawing impurities from the skin, but like most acne products, they can dry out the skin. The only difference here is that it happens when these are overused. When used in moderation, aka once or maybe twice a week max, they are a wonderful addition to our weekly regime to keep pores clean, fresh, and, uh, as empty as possible.
So many clay masks contain fillers and other drying agents — but the clay is the real magic ingredient, so less is more. When looking for a clay mask, we want to find the ones with the least amount of ingredients possible. In many cases, this will mean it comes in a powder form, and all we need to do is add a liquid of our choice.
In most cases, purified water is perfect. But we can get creative with anti-inflammatory chamomile tea, anti-aging licorice tea, energizing green tea, or invigorating mint tea. We can also try honey for a soothing, anti-bacterial emulsifier, or yogurt for a lightly exfoliating lactic acid creamy base.
The trick is to apply thickly, and let it set for 10-15 minutes. In some cases, we can go longer. However, the longer it sits doesn’t necessarily mean the better. Letting a clay mask completely dry on the skin for too long can actually do more harm than good. Due to its powerful drawing properties, letting the mask completely dry on the skin will also purge the skin of its natural oils, causing it to work overtime and over-produce sebum to compensate — which can lead to oily skin and more breakouts. Our pro tip #1: Don’t let it dry completely.
Here are some of our favorite masks for purging our pores:
This pure clay is the ultimate classic, and an unparalleled staple for pure purging. It’s super drawing, so 10 minutes should suffice. The skin may even be a little red after, because it’s drawing all the blood to the surface. This is a good thing, but can easily be overdone — so be diligent about timing.
This beauty contains bentonite clay, as well as some gentle exfoliating acids to clean up the work that is being purged. It’s got colloidal silver, zinc oxide, and chamomile to calm, soothe, and protect skin, preventing it from further breakouts. It’s a real multi-tasker.
Cleansing clay with mineral-rich sea salts, calming algae, botanical exfoliants, and natural extracts from roots and trees gently open pores, relieve them of buildup, and soothe their vulnerable underbellies.
Activated charcoal is the ultimate detoxifier, and known to be incredibly absorbent and potent. Cupuacu butter and Alpine rose help to temper this powerful agent, keeping things calm and moist — while heavy duty work goes down.
Sage leaf and rose geranium are anti-acneic and anti-inflammatory heroes in this mask blend. A thin layer actually works great, and it’s dry and ready for rinse in 10 minutes to reveal tightened, cleansed pores with minimal drying effects.
Amazonian white clay is gentle, yet a force to be reckoned with — we’re talking to you, blackheads! It means business when it comes to detoxing and unclogging pores, and definitely should not be left on too long. It’s a hero product amongst pore-purgers, but do not abuse its strength.