The mud-masking ritual is nothing new; in fact, it could be traced back all the way back to the days of Cleopatra, where the fabled Queen of the Nile fiercely believed in the Dead Sea’s mystical healing powers and so, would cover herself with the black mud to preserve her beauty.
Now that we got the history lesson out of the way, there’s of course no real need to travel to the high-saline lake to keep your skin soft and smooth thanks to the advent of bottled clay mask. Traditionally, clay mask is notoriously known for being very drying to the skin and leaves a taut after-feel, making it a go-to for only oily skin sufferers.
That’s not the case however with modern-day clay masks that now come in a variety of comfortable textures plus extra skincare benefits (hydrating, brightening, anti-ageing… the list goes on) to address different skin concerns. Some are watery; others have a creamier finish while a few are more viscous. Intrigued? Then try these new-generation clay masks that don’t behave in traditional clay ways.
Kaolin: Thanks to its mild nature, kaolin is a popular option amongst those with sensitive skin and is easily identifiable with a colour-coding system – white comes with super fine, gentle bits for mild exfoliation; yellow exfoliates, promotes circulation and is slightly more absorbent; while red has the highest sebum-vacuuming strength of them all. There’s also pink kaolin clay – a mixture of white and red – which has a balance of oil-absorbing and exfoliating powers.
Bentonite: This is another type of clay that you may have spotted on most skin care targeting oily or acne-prone skin, and for good reason. By simply mixing with water, it can sop up excess sebum and impurities like a magnet while tightening skin and clearing acne.
Rhassoul: Jam-packed with minerals, this ancient naturally occurring clay from Morocco is elastic in nature and boasts texture-improving benefits, making it a great skin and hair cleaner as it clears away sebum plugs and trapped grime without leaving you dry as a bone. Mix it with crushed almonds or oats and you’ll get yourself a heavy-duty exfoliator, if you’re into DIY and that sort of thing.
Illite: More commonly known as French Green clay, it is a product of France (obviously) and comes in a green shade which is resulted from the combination of decomposed plant material and iron oxide (rule of thumb: the greener its colour is, the better the clay quality). Illite tops the charts when it comes to guzzling up oil, and leaves a tingling sensation on your skin as it is incredibly circulation-boosting as well.
Fuller’s earth: With industrial-strength oil-absorbing properties, the uses of this bad boy clay range from fabric cleaners to automotive products. It is capable of improving circulation but since it can be quite drying, it would be wise to mix the clay with rose water before you slather it on your skin. Use it as a mask once a week; anything more and the only thing you’ll get is Sahara-dry skin.
Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Color Clay Mask ($13 each)
Loaded with volcanic extracts from Jeju Island, this fourth-generation mask features seven coloured variants in three textures – Watery Gel Clay, Cream Clay and Transforming Clay (a clay-to-foam texture) – to remove sebum and address specific skin needs. For a clearer, brighter complexion, use once a week and leave on for five to 10 minutes before rinsing off.
Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Color Clay Mask - Brightening Yellow, Hydrating Blue and Vitalizing Pink ($13 each)
Resembling a lightweight cream, the mask with the Watery Gel texture spreads easily over skin and dries more quickly than the other two formulas. It comes in three variants – Hydrating, Brightening and Vitalizing – to keep skin hydrated, radiant and supple.
Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Color Clay Mask - Cica Green and Calming Purple ($13 each)
The Cream Clay mask has a thick cream consistency that takes more time to spread over your face. It has two variants – Cica and Calming – which are said to relieve skin irritation and strengthen the skin’s protective barrier.
Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Color Clay Mask - Refining White and Purifying Black ($13 each)
The Transforming Clay texture feels thicker than the Watery Clay. It can be used either as a wash-off mask or a face cleanser (it lathers upon contact with water) – and comes in two versions: Refining, to smooth skin, and Purifying, to tackle congested, oily skin.
Air-whipped to a lightweight texture, this gentle mask contains natural pink clay to purify and mattify skin in three minutes. The pastel-pink mask also has jojoba extract to hydrate your skin. Suitable for use two to three times a week, it has an addictive floral scent that smells like a holiday in a bottle.
This moisturising mask – which feels like very wet clay – is meant to purify skin in eight minutes. It gets rid of excess oil with Shinan mud clay, while regulating sebum production with pine-needle extract. It gives your skin a nice cooling sensation as it also contains mint water, which is said to strengthen the skin barrier.
Formula 10.0.6 Deep Down Detox Ultra-cleansing Mud Mask – Orange + Bergamot ($13.90)
Packed with extracts of orange, bergamot and sea salt, this creamy mask goes on smoothly (leave on for 10 to 15 minutes) and washes off to reveal clear, hydrated and radiant skin. Bonus: It has a pleasant citrus smell.
With white kaolin clay, bamboo charcoal powder, and botanical extracts and oils, this clay mousse dries into a mask you can peel off, drawing out dirt and grime for smoother, more radiant skin. Apply an even layer once a week over dry, clean skin, avoiding the eye area. Leave it on for 10 to 15 minutes before peeling or washing off. Suitable for all skin types.
L’Occitane Pivoine Pure Peony Purifying Minute Mask ($8)
Excess sebum and unsightly pores don’t stand a chance with this melt-in mask that clears impurities and imperfections with peony and lemon extracts for a clear, glowing complexion in just three minutes. Best part? It comes in individual “cups” that are just as travel-friendly as it is hygienic.
Fresh’s 17-year-old multi-tasking mask gets a wardrobe update courtesy of Rometti, a ceramics workshop based in Umbria, Italy, that drew inspiration from the rich Estruscan heritage for the special packaging design. The formula remains the same proprietary mineral-rich kaolin clay that can be used as a daily deep pore cleanser, a spot treatment and an instant clarifying mask for a clearer complexion.