Is there anything more satisfying than the tightening of a dry clay mask against your skin; the sensation of it literally pulling the dirt out of your pores? Actually, yes — and that’s using a clay mask the right way. (Which, no — you probably haven’t been doing.)
Clay masks have risen in popularity lately for one big reason:
Clay is a natural super-absorber. It develops an electrical charge upon being mixed with water and acts as a magnet of sorts. When applied as a face mask, this substance draws excess oils, toxins, and dirt up and out of pores, leaving behind squeaky-clean skin.
Because of its power, though, clay sometimes does more than just clean pores — it can actually strip the skin of necessary natural oils and impair the skin’s barrier; leaving it dry, tight, itchy, and susceptible to irritation. For this reason, those with dry or sensitive skin are generally told to avoid clay masks. But it turns out, everyone can benefit from this earthy indulgence with one simple adjustment: Wash the mask off while it’s still wet.
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Does this go against everything you think you know about clay masks? Probably. But will it make your masking experience so much better? You better believe it.
Here’s how it works:
According to aestheticians, there are three distinct phases of a clay mask. Phase one is when the mask is still damp on your face — this is when it delivers its main skincare benefits. Two is when the mask begins to harden, drawing out impurities and stimulating blood flow. Three is when the mask is fully dry and flaking — and here is where it can over-dry the skin, sucking out moisture and causing micro-damage to the barrier. Most people wait until phase three to rinse off the mask; but by removing it during phase two — when it’s still slightly wet — you reap all the toxin-absorbing benefits of clay without the risk of irritation.
Ideally, you should keep the mask on no longer than five to 10 minutes: enough time to work, but not enough to wreak havoc on your delicate face.