Clay Mask Recipes
The internet is chock-full of simple recipes for clay face masks using additional ingredients like eggs, oats, mayonnaise, yogurt, etc. from your kitchen cupboard each with its own possible skin benefits.
However, a Clay Face Mask adds another dimension, the "science of clay" that helps to cleanse pores by removing impurities from the skin. Each type of clay provides its own unique benefit.
While clay powders are very effective when made into a simple paste with water, they can also be mixed with other ingredients for an added benefit or just for fun and experimentation.
There are many websites that provide recipes for additives to clay masks. Unfortunately many do not understand the science behind how a clay mask works.
Before you choose additives for your mask -- you must decide WHY you are using a face mask.
If you are using a clay mask simply to aid in gentle exfoliation or skin polishing only, then powdered clays can be mixed with just about anything that your skin likes.
However, if you want to take advantage of "the science of clay" then you must understand that the property of clay that allows it to bind with impurities becomes activated by the chemical nature of water.
The Very Simple Science of Clay & Water
I discussed the Science of Clay in a previous blog.
Basically, when water is absorbed into the clay, the clay can then take on and release cations (positively charged ions).
The theory is that since clay is made largely of minerals, these positively charged good minerals are then able to exchange with positively charged impurities.
So while clays can be used as a dry powder, the main properties of clays become activated by water.
This activation occurs when water is absorbed into the clay and the clay can then take on and release cations.
If the goal is to use the "science of clay" to help remove impurities from the skin, then any non-water-based additive (like oil) MUST be added AFTER the mask is hydrated with water.
Basic Clay Face Mask Recipe
Below is our basic recipe for mixing the clay for our clay face mask.
- Step 1: Start with approx 1/2 to 1 Tablespoon of the facial clay in any small non-metal bowl.
- Step 2: Slowly add 1/4 teaspoon of room temperature or warm water and mix with a non-metal spoon.
- Step 3: Continue adding small amounts of water and mixing until a creamy mud-like consistency is reached. Some clays need more water and some need less, so always begin with just a little water and continue to check the consistency. Be sure to mix well into a smooth clay paste.
You can completely substitute all of the water with a high water content additive like teas, hydrosols, or milk. For other ingredients, there will be special directions.
Read more about How To Use Clay Face Masks
Recipe Ideas Using Hydrosols or Teas
Using the idea that cosmetic clays need to be mixed with "water" to do their "thing," great additions would be hydrosols, teas, or any water-based liquid.
While a tea is a simple infusion produced by steeping plant material like fresh leaves, fruits, flowers, and even bark into the water, a hydrosol is quite different.
For more information please read our blog "What Are Hydrosols?"
However, both can be a nice substitution for plain water.
Directions: Simply use the hydrosol or tea in place of the water in your clay mask preparation. As then used as directed.
Teas: Each herbal or botanical tea will have its own properties, so choose one that fits your facial needs. For example, chamomile tea can help calm irritated skin; green tea is high in antioxidants; peppermint tea is cooling and refreshing and the list goes on.
Hydrosols: A hydrosol is the aromatic water remaining after producing an essential oil via steam distillation. Steam distillation results in two complementary products, the essential oil, and the hydrosol. Hydrosols are great for facial applications, especially when essential oils may be too strong. For example, rose hydrosol is great for all skin types and is and is an excellent toner.
Witch Hazel: Witch Hazel is a refreshing and gentle addition with toning, astringent, and clarifying qualities, it helps support a balanced complexion and reduce excess oil. If your witch hazel is marked “alcohol-free,” then it is a hydrosol. Most witch hazel products contain some alcohol which is used in the process of double distilling to get obtain even more of the botanical essence from the plant. Be sure that you check the ingredients. It should contain less than 15% alcohol.
Recipe Ideas Using Other Water-Based Ingredients
You may be surprised how many things we eat or drink contain a high percentage of water.*
- Milk = 90%
- Most Fruit Juices = 85 - 95%
- Plain regular yogurt = 75%
- Cucumbers = 95%
- Avocado = 72%
- Banana = 75%
- Apple Cider Vinegar = 95%
- Whole Egg = 76%
- Egg Yolk = 50%
- Egg White = 87%
*These numbers are averages and obviously will vary.
For oily skin, use natural juices that have an astringent effect such as tomato, lemon, and orange juice. For dry and normal skin you can use moisturizing liquids like milk, yogurt, and eggs. For a more intense, purifying mask, replace water with raw apple cider vinegar.
YOGURT: Yogurt made with milk also contains lactic acid, fats, and proteins, that help soothe and exfoliate the skin. Yogurt also contains probiotics that may help maintain the healthy microbiome of the skin. Use full-fat plain organic yogurt. Save a little bit next time you eat a carton of yogurt!
The water content varies a lot among different types of yogurt. For example, a major difference between Greek and non-Greek yogurt is with water content. Like traditional yogurt, Greek yogurt is made from cultured milk. What makes Greek yogurt unique is that after the fermentation process is complete, it’s triple strained.
So there is less water in Greek yogurt compared with traditional yogurt. Remember that the water content is important for the clay to be activated.
MILK: The lactic acid in milk is a gentle exfoliant that helps gently dissolve dead skin while brightening without irritation. It is great for cleansing, softening, and soothing dry, irritated, and sensitive skin. Whole milk contains extra fats and proteins that aid in soothing and softening skin. Organic whole milk or goat milk is best.
ALOE VERA JUICE: Organic Aloe juice (or some fresh gel from a plant) is a great addition to a mask. It has mild astringent properties, balances oil production, and soothes irritated skin. Make sure to use aloe juice and not the commercial gel. The commercial gel contains a lot of unnecessary ingredients that your face does not need.
CITRUS JUICES: Citrus juices contain circulation-boosting citric acid, help refresh facial skin, and are good to use for oily complexions. Some studies have shown that lemon juice may even out skin tone and lighten age spots. Orange juice is rich in Vitamin C, which refreshes skin cells and may help soften fine lines and wrinkles. Citrus oils may irritate dry, irritated, or sensitive skin.
APPLE CIDER VINEGAR: Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) can work wonders on the skin.
It contains malic acid a great nonabrasive exfoliant and astringent. It also helps soothe itchy, dry skin.
Even though ACV is mostly water it can be irritating to sensitive skin. I would suggest diluting it in a 1:2 solution (meaning 1 part ACV to 2 parts water). You can always increase the ACV if desired.
EGGS: Your skin type will determine whether you use the yolk, white, or the whole egg.
- The egg yolk is 50% water, 16% protein, and 32% fat which helps with dry or flaky skin. The nutrients in egg yolks work to hydrate, nourish, and moisturize dull skin. Since the yolk is only 50% water, mix it with about 1/2 the water recommended in your face mask directions. Slowly add that mixture to the clay and mix well until the desired consistency is reached.
- The egg white, which is 87% water and 10% protein, is great for tightening and toning the skin. Egg whites are also rich in lysozyme, an antibacterial compound that may help with acne-prone skin.
- If you have naturally oily skin, use egg whites rather than egg yolks.
AVOCADOS are a great source of vitamins and skin-loving fatty acids. Good for all skin types, avocados are moisturizing, hydrating, nourishing, and can help soothe irritated skin.
Special Directions: Since avocados have a low water content they should not be totally substituted for the water in a clay face mask.
Mash a small piece of avocado (about 2 tablespoons) with about 1/3 the water recommended in your face mask directions. Slowly add that mixture to the clay and mix well until the desired consistency is reached.
BANANAS are a great source of vitamins vitamin B6 and C. They are also rich in minerals such as potassium and magnesium. Good for all skin types, bananas are hydrating, moisturizing, nourishing, and can help soothe irritated skin.
Special Directions: Like avocados, bananas have a low water content and should not be totally substituted for the water. Mash a small piece of banana (about 2 tablespoons) with about 1/3 the water recommended in your face mask directions. Slowly add that mixture to the clay and mix well until the desired consistency is reached.
Recipe Ideas Using Non-Water-Based Ingredients
Honey is made up of approximately 80% sugar and no more than 18% water. The exact makeup is determined by the type of bee species, plants, weather, and humidity as well as processing.
Naturally soothing, highly moisturizing, and packed with antioxidants, naturally antibacterial honey is good for all skin types. It helps soothe, hydrate, clear, and brighten complexions. We recommend pure raw honey.
Special Directions: Since honey has a very low water content it should not be used in place of the water for a clay face mask. Make the mask using water or a water-based liquid (how about some chamomile tea) and add about a teaspoon of raw honey. Mix well.
Oils help moisturize and soften skin. I have included some examples below but there are so many different oils and each will provide its own skincare benefits. When possible stick with organic unrefined oils.
- Sweet Almond Oil is rich in fatty acids and great for all skin types
- Grapeseed Oil is hypoallergenic and great for those with sensitive skin
- Sunflower Oil, especially helpful for delicate or dry skin, is easily absorbed and can be used on all skin types
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a heavier, moisturizing oil, helpful for very dry skin
- Virgin Coconut Oil is an excellent skin moisturizer with natural antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties
- Avocado Oil may help ease symptoms of irritated skin conditions
- Jojoba Oil is a great oil because it most closely matches our skin's own natural oils
One of our Organic Facial Oils would be a great addition to your natural clay mask!
Special Directions: Since oil has no water content it should not be used in place of the water unless you are using the clay simply to polish or exfoliate. Make the mask using water or a water-based liquid as directed and mix well. Add about 1/2 teaspoon of the oil of your choice (you can always add more if you like the results). Mix well.
There are many other ingredients you can add to your clay face mask.
One of my favorites is turmeric, the ground-up rhizome (underground stem) of a member of the ginger family. Turmeric contains a plant pigment called curcumin a natural antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties. A few studies have shown that topical turmeric can help reduce dark spots on the skin if used regularly.
At age 68, my once cute freckles have basically all become age spots! The liquid I use is half lemon juice and half water. I use that to mix my clay face mask and then add about 1 teaspoon of turmeric.
Obviously, the purpose of any face mask is to achieve some desired effect on your skin.
But for me, it is also a pampering and relaxing time.
You can get as creative as you like. Mix and match ingredient additions to get the perfect pairing for your facial skin.
Is there another ingredient that your facial skin loves?
Try it! Just remember the need for some sort of water-based liquid to activate the clay.
As you read about all of these interesting ingredients to add to your face mask, the most important, sometimes fun, and often frustrating part of developing your personal skincare routine is getting in touch with your skin in order to learn what it needs.
Remember you (and your skin) are unique so enjoy the journey!