We all have our go-to skin savers. I always go running for clay masks when my less-than-model perfect skin starts acting up. It tightens my crater-like pores, shrinks my pimples, and soothes irritated red patches that sometimes result from overzealous scrubbing. I never questioned how clay worked its magic, I just slathered it on with abandon. I even used to sleep in my old favorite, the ever-therapeutic Queen Helene Mint Julep Clay Masque ($4 at drugstores.) After a small bit of quality time with Google, I found the answer at www.wildcrafted.com.au. When you apply viscous clay to your skin, it slides down into your pores, sticking to all the unpleasantness that lurks there – oil, dirt, toxins, and the like. As the moisture leaves the clay, the mass of the mask shrinks in size. The clay retracts from the pores with the unwanted skin saboteurs clinging to it. A quick wash, and the clay leaves your skin pure and glowing. Mystery solved.
Now some fancy new masks have come along, promising a little more than the classic minty mask. I took them both for an eager road test.
Zia Natural, a popular health store skincare line, has introduced a full line featuring goodness from the ocean: Zia Natural Skincare Ultimates Oceanic Clay Their Rejuvenating Mask ($39.95 at Whole Foods) works in tandem with their Clay Cleansing Crème ($28.95.) This unique cleanser starts with a base of oceanic clay, adds sea algae and myrtle leaf extract to hydrate and firm skin, jojoba seed oil to keep skin smooth and flexible, and cypress, myrrh, and geranium oils to calm and renew. Unlike a mask, which should be used no more than twice a week, this cleanser is safe for daily use, and felt like a mini-mask in itself. The Zia mask contains all the good things mentioned above, but also adds a shot of cranberry extract for a healthy dose of antioxidants. And just as you’d expect, these products come with the usual health store qualifications: They are free of paraben and animal products, and were not tested on animals. Put the hurt on your blemishes, not your conscience.
The new PCA Skin pHaze 9 Purifying Mask ($56 at dermstore.com ) has an exfoliating scrub built right in. Let the mask, made of French red clay and filled with algae, red wine extract, and vitamins A and E, dry on your skin, then take advantage of the tiny pumice particles dispersed throughout the product: Rinse with warm water and use gentle circular motions to lightly grind away dead skin cells along with all those other impurities. The result? A vibrant, refreshed complexion.
I’ll probably never leave the Queen and her Mint Julep concoction entirely, but I can’t say I haven’t enjoyed dabbling in these newcomers that offer a little more than the standard detox routine.