How hard can it be, right? Wash your face, throw on a mask, and cheers to “Self Care Sunday.” What you don’t know, may be hurting you.
First of all, clay masks, in particular, are used for different reasons. At home, most people assume clay is used solely for detoxing and cleaning out pores. I’ve found a lot of people use clay masks even when they have the driest of skin. I’m sure I sound like a broken record when I say, “FORMULATION IS KEY,” but I can’t stress that enough. It’s always best to talk to a skin expert to get advice on which masks are best supporting your individual skin needs. However, if you can’t make it in to get customized support, your safest bet is to read the ingredients and be sure there are hydrating and nourishing ingredients at the top of the list.
Clay masks are used for a variety of reasons in clinical treatments. Most often, they are used to prep the skin rather than use harsh stripping agents. You’ll notice many people use acetone to prep the skin (shout out to the ’90s!). Prepping the skin with a well-formulated clay mask is a gentler but effective method. During these treatments, the clay mask MAY dry up on your skin but it isn’t left on the skin for very long. Again, we are prepping the skin for a chemical treatment.
Now, when it comes to at home use (or used in a skin care clinic in which you aren’t receiving an advanced corrective treatment), you and your esthetician should NEVER let the clay mask dry completely. Regardless of how nourishing the formula is, the mask should NEVER be allowed to dry on the skin. When this happens, people automatically assume they’re cleaning their pores out and firming up. You’re actually sucking all of the moisture out of your skin causing dehydration, tightness (not the good kind, the stripping kind), and irritation. Regardless of your skin type (which really, there is only ONE skin type, but that’s another post…) oily skin is normally dehydrated skin. Your skin is helping you out by providing the moisture you’re not providing and then you use a clay mask to suck every bit of moisture out, leaving your skin in a state of dehydration again, causing your skin to then produce even more oil. Your skin can’t win! It’s all about balance. Always know WHY you’re using certain masks. Don’t blindly buy a mask from Walmart because of the cheap price and pretty packaging. Understand your ingredients and what you’re trying to achieve. Sometimes, that mask we find for $5.99 at the grocery store may be doing us more harm than our intentions are for “Self Care Sundays.”
Understand the phases of clay masking:
-Throw out the directions for “time.” The time you allow the mask to stay on your skin will be dependent on your own lack of moisture and your environment. Drier environments will cause the mask to dry more quickly. The formulation will have a huge impact on how quickly the mask dries. If you’ve used a clay mask in my studio, you’ll notice I keep touching your skin and I keep an eye on the texture. Sometimes the mask is on for a little longer and other times, it’s quickly removed. I do what your skin tells me and you should do the same at home.
Have a toner nearby:
-Spritzing the mask with a hydrating toner will help keep the mask wet, allowing you to keep it on longer and aiding in removal. Helpful ingredients include humectants such as Glycerin. Using a water-based toner alone, such as Rose Water, will help strip the skin by evaporating and taking any hydration with it. Always use a toner with a humectant.
Watch for changes in the mask:
-Your mask may change colors and start to lighten as it begins drying. Now, would be a good time to either rinse and remove or spritz and continue on. Once your skin starts to feel “tight,” it’s definitely time to remove!
Clay masks are not intended to be left on while you tend to other things. It seems so harmless and fun using clay masks but really, it’s not something to be taken lightly. Every time I see people with dried clay on their faces (especially young kids) I cringe! You are destroying your barrier. Normally, clients are taking the initiative to apply them in an effort to balance their oily skin when in fact, it’s going to do quite the opposite if not done correctly.
I hope you found this post helpful! Happy Masking!