Skin is the body`s largest organ and one of the primary ways toxins make their way into the body. Therefore, it`s important to read the labels of skin care products and learn what to avoid when it comes to ingredients. The marketplace is abundant with prepared “natural” clay masks. An alternative to buying packaged clay masks is to “do-it-yourself”.
In the United States, skin care products for human use require that ingredients be listed. However, the FDA does not require verifiable, mandatory compliance with the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act for cosmetic products (which include skin care products) before they are marketed. Let the buyer beware! Here are some important points to keep in mind with regard to reading skin care labels:
*lots of ingredients in and of themselves don`t make a product better.
*fewer ingredients in and of themselves don`t make a product better.
*an unpronounceable ingredient doesn`t make it bad.
*more expensive products aren`t necessarily better than less expensive products.
*knowledge is power and reading labels is key to choosing products!
One common, toxic ingredient in packaged volcanic clay masks is dmdm hydantoin. It is a preservative and is derived from methanol. It can result in itching, burning, scaling, hives, and blistering of skin as a result of an immune system response. Further, it caused cancer when injected into rats.
Another ingredient in another widely-available clay mask is styrax benzoin extract. This ingredient is a common allergen that can cause skin irritations, welts and urinary problems when absorbed through the skin.
A third toxic ingredient to lookout for in clay masks is potassium hydroxide, which is caustic potash. Being extremely corrosive, it can cause skin rash and burning and can destroy fingernails in concentrations greater than five percent.
On the bright side, there is a natural substance from the earth – calcium bentonite clay – that can be used to make a non-toxic mask at home. Clay refers to materials whose particle size is less than 2 micrometers and to a family of minerals whose chemical compositions and crystal structure are similar. There are many different types of clay, some more suited to industrial use and others suited to personal use. Clays in the smectite family are particularly good for clay masks because they both absorb (draw in) and adsorb (stick to) toxins and other impurities.
Any quality calcium bentonite clay can be used as the basis of a homemade clay mask. Mix 1 part dry calcium bentonite clay with 3 parts filtered water. Organic apple cider vinegar or rosewater may be substituted for the filtered water. Blend well with a wooden spoon till the consistency of sour cream. Let sit 12-24 hours covered. Apply a thin layer to the skin and allow to dry 15-20 minutes. Rinse off with warm water and moisturize. Since the clay increases circulation to the area where applied, expect some redness initially. Clay facials may be done once a week for general cleansing and exfoliation.
Sources for Story:
FDA and Cosmetics/Skin Care
EWG Skin Deep Cosmetics Database
Ruth Winter, M.S., A Consumer`s Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients, 1994, Crown Trade Paperbacks
Environmental Characteristics of Clays and Clay Mineral Deposits
Ran Knishinsky, The Clay Cure, Natural Healing from the Earth, 1998, Healing Arts Press