One of the best parts of getting a facial or body treatment at the spa is the mask.  There are many different types of facial and body masks and wraps, which serve different functions for the various skin conditions/concerns; but the most popular is the mud mask.

Mud and clay masks are used on most skin types.  Although their primary function is to absorb dirt, debris, excess oil, and other impurities from the skin; they have many other benefits including:

•    Hydration
•    Balancing oil production
•    Firms and tightens the skin
•    Improves overall texture of the skin
•    Improves clarity of skin
•    Increasing circulation
•    Detoxification

This is just a short list.  There are many different types of mud and clay used in face and body masks and each one nourishes and cares for the skin in different ways. Here are the most common categories of muds and clays, and how they are used to benefit the skin and body.

Kaolin (White or Rose) Clay

This clay has the finest texture and the mildest effects.  It is great to use for sensitive, dry, or inflamed skin; and is often used as a base in skin care products and some powdered makeup formulas.  It gently absorbs and detoxifies the skin, without stripping the skin’s protective lipid barrier.  It is great for inflamed skin due to its ability to heal and repair tissue.  This can be used on the face or the body, on all skin types, and is a great clay to start with if you have never used mud or clay before.

Bentonite Clay

This clay has a long history of use for purification and detoxification the skin, as well as the internal organs and systems of the body.  It is great for treating skin conditions such as acne, folliculitis (infection of the hair follicles), and certain rashes.  It can also be taken internally to help cleanse the colon.  The way it detoxifies is actually similar to the way mineral salts in salt caves work…with a negative charge that attracts and binds to the positively charged toxins (most toxins do have a positive charge) in our bodies.

At this point I am only recommending using Bentonite topically as a face or body wrap/mask, since there are some contraindications for taking it internally.  If you would like to consider taking it internally to cleanse the digestive tract, don’t just go out and buy it and start taking it.  Talk to a holistic practitioner who specializes in colonics and other methods of colon cleansing and detoxification; and make sure you get cleared by the healthcare providers you currently trust your health to.

Rhassoul Clay

Doesn’t that have a fun name?  This Moroccan clay is very user friendly in that it is easy to blend with water and other herbs, active powders, essential oils, etc.  It hydrates and smoothes dry and flaky skin, lightly exfoliates dead skin cells, absorbs excess oil and helps to dislodge comedones (blackheads) to make them easier to remove.  It is a very nutritive and mineral-rich clay, and replenishes the body with silica, magnesium, potassium, and calcium.  This is used as a mask for the face and body, as well as in mud baths.

Dead Sea (Black) Mud

I’ve saved the best for last.  Throughout history kings and queens have used the salt and mud from the Dead Sea in their rituals of purification and beautification.  Because it contains the amazing Dead Sea salt, the mud is extremely rich in minerals.  It has a higher mineral content than other clays and muds because of its Dead Sea salt content.  Sixty percent of this mud consists of 26 different minerals such as sulfur, calcium chloride, potassium, magnesium, sodium, and bromine; all essential to the health of the skin and body.  It helps deep clean the pores, soften fine lines and wrinkles, soothes and calms any areas of inflammation.  It is particularly effective in treating acne and psoriasis.

It is also an excellent body treatment, not just for nourishing and smoothing the skin, but also for detoxification; and when heated, it provides relief of pain from sore, stiff muscles and joints.  “This is because the heat increases the ability of the elements to be absorbed and thus penetrate the affected area. For this reason, a lot of people who suffer from arthritis will apply heated mud to their inflamed joints.”

How do I know which clay or mud to buy?

Don’t just go out to your backyard and start digging…the mud in your yard is not the same as the muds and clays I mentioned before.  It is not sterilized and is loaded with bacteria, pollutants, and toxins and will not provide any benefit to your skin or body; in fact it will probably cause harm.

Only muds that come from environments that are naturally protected and isolated from pollution and other environmental toxins should be used.  There are tons of online sources that sell these clays and muds in their pure mud and powdered forms.

Of course there are many popular brands out there that are pretty famous for their muds, (for example: Borghese’s Fango and many of the Ahava products…some of Ahava is OK but many have parabens and other chemicals)…but beware of these because pure mud and clay is expensive, so commercial and mass produced muds (no matter how “authentic” their marketing tells you they are) often contain chemical fillers and preservatives so they can get away with using less of the actual mud. In my opinion, this completely defeats the purpose of using mud in the first place.

Clays and muds, though the powders have been sterilized, provide a habitable environment for growth of bacteria, yeast, and mold once mixed into a formulation; so if you don’t want to worry about preservatives in your products, don’t purchase pre-mixed clays or muds. Powdered clays and muds are easily re-constituted with other beneficial natural ingredients and therapeutic, organic herbs and essential oils, and I personally find it much more enjoyable to change my treatments up each time.

I think it is also fun to buy the pure muds and the pure herbs and essential oils and make your own concoctions.  Of course you should read up on your herbs and essential oils first to make sure you are using the correct ones in the correct way.

So go out to the spa and try some mud treatments.  Your skin will be revitalized and your body will thank you for it.

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