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Clay: The Medicinal and Cosmetic Benefits

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Clay has been used around the world for centuries by indigenous people as an important medicinal and cosmetic tool.

Recently, medical research has emerged which supports the efficacy of clay, and it is now becoming increasingly popular as a rediscovered treatment for many different health and skincare conditions.

Externally, clays are used to absorb excess oil, dirt, and toxins from the skin while simultaneously exfoliating and improving skin circulation. Some clays, such as Bentonite clay, are primarily ingested for medicinal purposes such as detoxification or mineral deficiencies.

Other clays, such as French Green clay and Rhassoul clay, are used externally for skin conditions and for cosmetic purposes. Clays come in a variety of colors such as red, green, white, gray, and can range in texture from coarse and heavy to fine and fluffy. The different colors of clays occur because of their natural mineral content.

Bentonite Clay

Bentonite clay (also known as Montmorillonite) is an edible clay from naturally occurring volcanic ash sediments, and contains over 70 trace minerals. This clay is one of the most effective and powerful healing clays used to treat both internal and external maladies. The largest and most active deposits come from Wyoming and Montana. (Mountain Rose Herbs stocks a Wyoming variety).

Bentonite clay is traditionally used as an internal supplement to assist with mineral deficiencies, and to help bind toxins making them more soluble. Externally, Bentonite is used as a clay poultice, mud pack, in the bath, and in skin care recipes. Bentonite clay has the ability to absorb toxins, impurities, heavy metals and other contaminants from the body, and is ingested to treat mineral deficiencies, anemia, stomach ulcers, diarrhea, intestinal problems, hemorrhoids, and for general organ health.

For internal use, the typical preparations and general guidelines are:

Large physical stature: Take one tablespoonful of Bentonite and add it to about eight ounces of liquid and thoroughly mix until the clay is completely combined with the water.

Medium physical stature: Take one heaping teaspoon of Bentonite and add it to about eight ounces of liquid and thoroughly mix until the clay is completely combined with the water.

Light physical stature: Take one level teaspoon of Bentonite and add it to about eight ounces of liquid and thoroughly mix until the clay is completely combined with the water.

French Green Clay

French Green Clay (Also Known as Illite Clay or Sea Clay) is very absorbent, and literally “drinks” oils, toxic substances, and impurities from your skin. Its toning action stimulates the skin by bringing fresh blood to damaged skin cells, revitalizing the complexion, and tightening pores. Mined from bedrock quarries in France, it is sun-dried, completely natural, unscented, and fragrance free.

Green clay is a bio-mineral, and contains decomposed plant matter as well as many trace minerals, such as: silica, aluminum, magnesium, calcium, iron, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, copper, zinc, selenium, cobalt, manganese, phosphorous, silicon, micro-algaes, kelp, and phyto-nutrients. Green Clay has analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties which make it beneficial for muscular pain, swelling, and arthritic or rheumatic conditions.

Cosmetically, French Green clay is revered for its ability to stimulate blood and lymph circulation, remove dead skin cells, absorb impurities and fats, and tone and strengthen connective tissues. After using French Green clay, skin feels fresh, smooth, radiant, and soft. French Green Clay is also marvelous for helping to clear problem skin areas, and is gentle enough to use weekly, or even daily on problem spots.

Fuller’s Earth Clay

Fuller’s Earth clay is a naturally occurring sedimentary clay composed mainly of alumina, silica, iron oxides, lime, and magnesia. It has been widely used as a skin-lightening agent, and it produces a lightening effect on the outer epidermal layer of the skin.

Because of its enormous drawing capabilities, Fuller’s Earth clay literally draws and absorbs oil from the skin, and is the number one choice for those with oily skin or those who are prone to acne. This clay is highly recommended to those with acne problems, blemishes, and people prone to oily skin. It is also a useful base ingredient in facial recipes for those with oily skin. Traditionally, Fuller’s Earth clay was used to remove oils from sheep wool because of its oil absorption properties. It has also been used in kitty litter, and in autobody shops to help absorb and remove grease and oil spills.

Rhassoul clay

Rhassoul clay is a truly exquisite Spa quality clay from ancient deposits unearthed from the fertile Atlas mountains of Morocco where it has been used for over 1400 years as a skin conditioner, soap, and shampoo. This clay has a long history, and was used in ancient Rome and Egypt by those of nobility. Rhassoul is a mineral rich, reddish/brown clay that blends extremely well with water making its application to the face and skin a smooth and delightful experience.

Today, upscale spas and resorts across the globe utilize the toning and enriching benefits offered by Rhassoul clay. It is very high in trace minerals such as silica, magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium and sodium, making it truly one of the finest treasures for pampering your skin. Because of the high mineral content, astringent properties, and absorption properties, Rhassoul clay is a wonderful and effective clay for cleansing, detoxification, and for general skin care treatments.

In clinical tests, Rhassoul has been shown to be effective on skin elasticity, clogged pores, removes dead skin layers, removed surface oil from skin, improves skin clarity and appearance, and reduces flakiness and dryness of both the scalp and skin. Try using Rhassoul clay in soap recipes, facial masks, body wraps, clay packs, shampoos, and conditioners for a luxurious and decadent experience.

White Cosmetic clay

White Cosmetic clay (also known as Kaolin clay) is one of the most versatile clays, and is also the mildest of all cosmetic clays. It is commonly found in skincare preparations and cosmetics because of its gentle nature, mineral content, absorbent properties, and ability to ‘fix’ scents. White clay is made up of fine clay particles, and has a lightweight fluffy consistency. This clay is more widely used than any other cosmetic clay, and is frequently found in powders, body packs, skin care products, deodorants, soaps, scrubs, poultices, cosmetics, facial masks, and toiletries. This clay will gently draw impurities from the skin without removing natural oils while simultaneously exfoliating, cleansing, and stimulating circulation. White clay is suitable for all skin types, whether it be oily, blemish prone, normal, sensitive, dry, or mature skin.

General Use Instructions

Baths: Add 2-3 ounces of clay to your bath water, and thoroughly mix in. Soak and enjoy. Feel free to add essential oils or an herbal infusion to enrich the experience.

Body Packs: Add one part clay to three parts water or until the desired consistency is reached. Mix thoroughly to an even paste, and then apply to skin area.

Face Mask: Mix a small amount with water until a smooth paste is obtained. Apply a thin layer of the paste to your face. Leave for 10 – 15 minutes or until dried before rinsing with warm water. If you have dry or sensitive skin, you may rinse the treatment off after 5 minutes, before it is completely dried. All skin types may use an herbal infusion or flower waters instead of water to increase the healing action, or may add a small amount of essential oil to the clay mixture. In addition, those with normal-dry skin may use honey, yogurt, cream, milk, or vegetable glycerin instead of water, or can add pureed avocado, cucumber, or a few drops of a carrier oil (such as Jojoba oil) to the mixture.

Those with oily skin may add Witch Hazel extract, vinegar, lemon juice, or an egg white to the clay mixture. Those with acne prone skin can add vinegar or lemon juice to the mixture, and 1-2 drops of Tea Tree or Lavender essential oil.

First Aid: Mix a small amount of clay with water, aloe vera gel, or flower water, and stir until a smooth paste is achieved. Apply directly to cuts, minor burns, stings, bites, or rashes.

Poultice: Add one part clay to three parts water or until you reach desired consistency, mix thoroughly to an even paste. Spread paste onto a piece of gauze and apply directly to the affected area, securing with a bandage. Leave in place for up to 2 hours but do not allow the paste to dry. Discard the poultice and re-apply a fresh one if needed.

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One Response to Clay: The Medicinal and Cosmetic Benefits

  1. Mandy March 22, 2010 at 8:42 am #

    I live in LA. Where can I buy clay for an at home body wrap? Green clay was specifically suggested. Thanks!

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