Get Stuck in the Mud – With Clay
qualities of clay have been used to promote health in animals and humans
in many cultures since before recorded history. There are many types of
clay and the Indian tribes of the Andes, Central Africa and the
aborigines of Australia, took volcanic ash clay internally. The drawing
power of clay was used to eliminate intestinal toxins, ulcers, leprosy
and tuberculosis and for pain relief from infections. These cultures
called clay “The Mud that Heals”. Animals are instinctively drawn to
clay for its healing qualities. Clay baths have been scientifically
proven to pull toxic metals from the skin and body and the best spas in
the world feature full body baths of clay. Many books are available on
the topic of the healing power of clay, used internally and externally.
If you are not
ready for a steady diet of clay, explore the world of clay facials that
you can make at home. Clays are natural silicates of the earth and are
perfect as a base for a facial mask. They draw toxins out of the skin
like a magnet and they restore the skin back to a natural balance. It is
best to use a clay facial mask once a week, more than that may be too
drying to the face. The cosmetic clays today are useful, convenient,
cleansing and invigorating. The clays most widely used for facials
include Bentonite, French green clay and Rhassoul or red clay. Let’s
take a closer look at each.
is somewhat different from the other types of clay. When water is added
to Bentonite, the molecular structure changes and an electrical charge
is produced. The clay swells like a sponge, attracting toxins into the
mixture and once they are drawn, they are bound to the clay because of
the electric charge. Bentonite clay is volcanic ash and the largest
deposits come from Wyoming and Montana. After mining, it is brought into
the sun to remove excess water so it is easier to work with. Finely
ground clay powder is sent off for use in baths and facials.
clay is also known as Sea Clay and is one of the most widely used in
the cosmetics industry. The clay gets a green color from naturally
decomposed plants and iron oxides. True French green clay will never be
white or gray; the color should be green or off green. The molecular
makeup of the clay is absorbent to the skin. Not all French green clay
comes from France. Some green clay comes from Wyoming, Montana and
China, but the French had the market cornered for so long; it has just
become known as French green clay.
Rhassoul or red
clay (Morrician Red Clay) comes from Morocco, has been used for
centuries as soap, shampoo, and skin conditioner in some the finest spas
in the world. It comes from the Atlas Mountains in Eastern Morocco and
resembles silky earth when refined. It is absorbent and effective for
cleaning and detoxifying. It is used to reduce dryness, reduce flakiness
and improves skin’s clarity, texture and elasticity.
Every clay facial
mixture contains plain water or distilled water for the liquid. Use a
glass, pottery or wooden bowl, (not metal) and stir the clay with the
liquid until it is a smooth paste. Use equal parts liquid and clay or
start out with a little less liquid because you can always add more.
Allow the clay to stand for a few minutes to absorb the moisture. Apply
a 1/8 to ˝ inch thick layer to the face and let it dry. It usually takes
5 minutes for delicate skin and 15 to 20 minutes for normal skin, but if
it is wet, it is still working. The pulling and tightening sensation is
normal and what you want to happen. Remove the clay by washing off with
warm water. There may be a slight redness, this is normal and will
disappear. If a rash should happen to appear, discontinue the mask.
The clays make the
perfect base for a facial and can be used on their own merit, but why
not make them special with unique liquids, fragrance or herbs for even
more natural elements for the face. Try using aloe vera juice, apple
cider vinegar or floral waters mixed with the clay. Herbs and essential
oils when added to the clay create a scented mask of luxury. A basic
recipe includes 2-3 oz. of clay with 1-2 oz. of powdered herbs added.
Some herbs to try with the clay are finely ground chamomile, marigold,
calendula petals and peppermint leaves, lavender and marshmallow root.
Ground Comfrey root, ginger root and slippery elm bark are good for dry
skin. Rose petal powder adds some fragrance and citrus peel powder is
good for astringency. Neem powder has an anti-bacterial quality for acne
and oatmeal or milk powders soothe the skin.
Add essential oils
in with the herbs for fragrance. For normal skin: Use Rhassoul clay with
2 drops of lavender, juniper, rose, geranium and chamomile . Do not
go overboard on essential oils because they are concentrated, but try
mixing a few of them together. For sensitive skin: Use aloe vera gel
mixed with 2 drops of rose, neroli, chamomile blue or Roman. For dry
skin: Use French green clay with 2 drops of rose, chamomile blue, neroli
and sandalwood. Add honey, yogurt or an egg yolk to the clay mixture and
blend well. For oily skin: Use French green clay with 2 drops of ylang
ylang, lemon, lavender, rosemary and geranium. Mix in an egg white for
even more drawing power. Wrinkled or sun damaged skin benefits from
adding yogurt, mashed banana or avocado to any of the essential oils
Full body masks of
clay are quite popular in spas and should be applied approximately one
inch thick or less over the body parts, avoiding sensitive areas like
the eyes and mouth. It will take at least an hour to dry so this is a
perfect time to listen to music, or do meditation. Add
aromatherapy to the experience by diffusing lavender, sandalwood,
and orange into the air. Shower off the mask when dry (the clay will not
harm drains). This is a treat when you want to pamper yourself in the
hot summer. Experiment with different mixtures and recipes and give
these fantastic masks to your friends as
aromatherapy gifts Take a cue from ancient cultures and make clay
spa treatments at home. It’s fun to come up with your own recipes and
healthy for your skin at the same time.
Beverly Hlavka is
a certified Aromatherapist and Feng Shui consultant. She offers guidance
and suggestions to consumers regarding
bath products to purchase or make at home.