Mud masking has been around since ancient times, and for good reason. Rich in minerals, clay helps to clear blemishes, draw out impurities and promote a brighter complexion. But if you thought clay masks were aimed at oily skin types, then the latest wave of launches proves they can treat all-manner of skincare woes, from redness to dehydration and fine lines…
BEST FOR... Congested Skin
Congested skin can mean anything from blemishes and breakouts to dullness and sallowness. Counteract these with a red clay mask, which works to purify the complexion for a healthier, more radiant glow. It’s all down to a high content of iron oxide, which pulls out toxins from the skin and deep cleanses pores. Betonite clay is also renowned for its super-absorbing powers, making it a powerhouse when it comes to tightening, acne-clearing and removing impurities.
Our favourites include bareMinerals’ Clay Chameleon Purifying Cleanser, £18, which transforms into a creamy consistency when mixed with water, and Sisley’s Radiant Glow Express Mask, £77, a luxe option packed with hydrating plant extracts and revitalising essential oils.
BEST FOR... Normal Skin
To keep normal skin well-balanced, look to kaolin, a special type of clay that won’t strip the skin of moisture. One of the mildest clays on the beauty shelves, it gently cleanses the skin without stripping too much oil and is also a mild exfoliant, which will help to remove dead skin cells and reduce blemishes and imperfections for a clearer visage.
For a soothing yet supercharged option, try Charlotte Tilbury’s cult Goddess Skin Clay Mask, £38, a kaolin-rich formula packed with sweet almond oil, frangipani flower extracts and a potent cocktail of essential oils to leave skin cashmere-soft. For a more intense option, try Chantecaille’s Detox Clay Mask, £73, brimming with kaolin alongside a dose of soothing rosewater. For best results, apply to cleansed skin and wear in the bath or shower – the steam will help to open your pores for a boosted cleanse.
BEST FOR... Oily Skin
If you’re prone to an oily T-zone or have combination skin, seek out products containing purifying French green clay. Found in France (hence the name), green clay’s verdant hue comes from the amount of plant material and iron oxide naturally found inside, which work to absorb excess oil and draw out toxins. It also helps to clear clogged pores and eliminate white and blackheads.
For an everyday treatment, try the Konjac Facial Puff Sponge with French Green Clay, £8.99, which can be used daily on the skin and doesn’t require extra product to work; it also absorbs bacteria, making it ideal for hormonal breakouts. If you prefer a leave-on treatment, try REN’s Detox Mask, £22, which helps to reduce excess sebum using a blend of spirulina and fatty acids.
BEST FOR... Sensitive Skin
Even delicate skin types can get a boost from clay, just be sure to opt for soothing formulas. Pink clay (often referred to as rose clay due to its pale pink hue) is a good option, offering mild exfoliating properties without harsh or abrasive ingredients. When using a clay mask on sensitive skin, be sure to take it off before it completely dries – anything longer than around 15 minutes will likely strip moisture from the complexion, leaving it irritated and prone to redness.
Origins’ Original Skin Mask with Rose Clay, £25, is a bestseller, working hard to reduce inflammation to leave skin feeling bright and refreshed. If your complexion is prone to dryness, try Nude’s Purify Deep Cleansing Mask, £38, which comes with a dose of skin-soothing buriti oil and omega fatty acids.