It’s official. The golden age of clays is back. Thanks to the popular #multimasking trend that has taken over social media, we are reaching for this multifaceted ingredient once again. And if you are not, then maybe you should be. We take a look at why clays deserve a place in your skincare routine.
Clays are considered a delicacy in skincare, especially for the younger clientele. Its hands-on approach, delightful texture, variety of colours and ability to swiftly tackle a large number of skin concerns, such as excess oil, dullness or clogged pores, are just some of the reasons beauty lovers are fans. The development of new transformative textures and sensory experiences, such as clay-based cleansers that go from gel to oil and from oil to milk, or masks that do not dry on the skin, have contributed to their return to social grace.
“Clays are like ‘exotic birds’ in the beauty industry. They are irresistible to almost all,” said Pedro Catalá, founder of Twelve Beauty. “There are studies which show their effectiveness in the treatment of a whole host of skin complaints. From cellulite, stretch marks, hair loss, wrinkles to uneven skin tone. There are even cases where clays have improved eczema, allergic reactions, boils, acne, blackheads, and sunburn.”
An ancient ingredient trending in the modern-day world
Although clays are trending, they are not new to the skincare world. Their use dates back thousands of years, where they were used for therapeutic purposes, to heal wounds, soothe irritations or as a method of cleansing and beautifying the skin. Galen, the Greek physician and philosopher, prescribed mud therapies as medicinal treatments. Even today, many indigenous tribes continue to cover their faces and bodies with clay preparations to protect themselves from solar radiation or to mitigate blemishes or uneven pigmentation.
The Egyptians used a soapy paste made from ash and mud from the Nile in their skincare routines. And in Ayurveda, India’s oldest holistic healing system, clays (or earth) can heal the body from the inside out and correct any imbalance as they contain many vital toxin-fighting minerals.
Its chemical composition: A source of virtues
Volcanic ash, mud from hot springs or sand washed by the sea. Depending on their original, clays molecular composition can contain varying amounts of minerals such as iron, magnesium and other cations (positively charged ions) that give them infinite therapeutic properties.
Calcium ions activate the skin’s aquaporins (water channels) to balance water content and increase water retention, which is key to maintaining cell balance and permeability. Potassium helps preserve the water balance of skin and cells. Zinc, an essential trace element, repairs and forms part of the development of new cells and DNA, acting at the extracellular matrix (beneficial for acne-prone and seborrheic skin). Silica, the beauty mineral, participates in collagen formation, repairs and softens skin, hair and nails and minimises wrinkles and expression lines.
Selenium is another highly beneficial mineral that clays can contain. This mineral can protect against cell damage and preserve body tissue elasticity. Moreover, all clays can enhance the ionic exchange of minerals. Due to their high capacity to trap grease and toxins, they are also exceptional at deep cleansing, detoxing and counteracting the harmful effects of pollution.
Clays, all the colours of the rainbow
White, green, purple, pink, red and even black. The chromatic range of this master ingredient is extensive, its hue varies depending on its mineral composition that, in turn, determines its use in the beauty industry. One of the most commonly used (and therefore the best known) is kaolin or white clay. This variety has moisturising, purifying and soothing properties, and it also removes impurities that can cause breakouts.
Furthermore, kaolin has a powerful sebum-regulating effect, making it the perfect ingredient for skin suffering from excess oil or impurities. However, it is also wonderful for dry skin, as it helps reinforce moisture levels in the hydrolipidic layer, as well as mature or dull skin due to its rejuvenating, remineralising and calming effects. It is a true multitasking ingredient.
Charcoal Peace Calming Cleanser is a triple-phase restorative cleanser that, in addition to kaolin, is formulated with plant-based activated charcoal. This exclusive combination not only provides congested or problematic skin with a deep cleansing action, but it is also gentle and kind on sensitive skin, a priority for Twelve Beauty.
The London Mask also has kaolin in its nourishing formula. But what sets this product apart from all others in its category, is it has been formulated to remain damp on skin. This way skin does not suffer from two of the most common side effects of clay face masks, over dryness and irritation. Hailed by many as the brand’s flagship product, it always has a waiting list as only 50 units are produced a month due to its time-intensive, complex manual preparation.
“I have always been a big fan of the skin benefits of clays, but not so much of the tight and dry feeling they can leave behind after using them. This is what drove my research into creating this product,” explains Pedro Catalá. “For this reason, I prepare the product by hand, as this allows me to ‘position’ the soothing and moisturising ingredients so that they are more readily available to skin. This way, the formula makes the most of the purifying and tone-enhancing effects that clays offer, but without their not-so-great side effects.”
The key ingredients which go into making The London Mask such a game-changer for skin are many: Squalane, which has fantastic skin affinity as it is one of the main components of human sebum and the hydrolipidic film. Rice starch, which leaves a protective and softening film on the surface of the skin. And lastly Allantoin, Mallow flower and Cucumber extract, which are all known for their calming, hydrating and refreshing actions on skin.
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