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Treating maskne with clay masks

By Shelagh McNally on Apr 19, 2021 11:00 am

Maskne is the newest complexion challenge. Clay faces masks to the rescue!

Woman lying on spa table with white clay on face

Everyone is suffering these days from breakouts caused by wearing face masks for long periods of time. Maskne are those skin irritations, red bumps, pimples, blackheads and whiteheads popping up underneath our masks. Wearing masks creates the perfect breeding ground from all that trapped warm air and sweat. Fortunately there is a soothing and organic solution.

Three types of maskne

Knowing what type of maskne you have will help you determine which clay mask is best for you:

  • Bacterial: Propionibacterium bacteria on the skin combining with dead skin cells  creates whiteheads, blackheads and pimples.
  • Fungal: Pityrosporum folliculitis is caused by the Malassezia yeast that creates small itchy red bumps known as pustules.
  • Contact Dermatitis: This is a red, itchy rash with dry, cracked skin that may be swollen or burn caused by your skin reacting to the mask fabric or from constant rubbing.

Soothing clay

Dermatologist recommend a deep cleaning before and after putting on your face mask. Clay masks have all the properties needed to treat maskne:

  • Draws out impurities due to its negatively charged particles
  • Shrinks pores
  • Absorbs excessive and bacteria on the skin trapped in pores
  • Exfoliates dead skin cells to make skin softer
  • Purifies the skin
  • Reduces the shine on skin
  • Nourishes the skin with mineral
  • Stimulates blood flow to the face
  • Tighten pores
  • Give a glow to the skin

Different clays for different skin

Montmorillonite or Bentonite: This is a Smectite type of clay that is a fine cream or grey colour. It will feel smooth and soft between your fingers with just a hint of grain. It can be used on all skin types and is especially beneficial for combination skin like the oily T-shape (forehead, nose and chin) because it's very absorbent as well as exfoliating. Montmorillonite removes both the dead and excess oils while shrinking large pores and tightening the skin.  

Kaolin: Created from the mineral kaolinite, this type of clay is a non-swelling clay with large particles that is very fluffy, lightweight and odourless. This fine clay doesn't absorb as much so is gentle and doesn’t dry out the skin. It’s recommended for dry or sensitive skin. And added bonus is that is stimulates blood circulation which helps brighten the skin. It’s found in many colours but white or yellow kaolin is the gentlest.  

Ilite: This a highly absorbent clay with a stronger drying and drawing effect.  French Green Clay is originally mined from the French Northern Atlantic, so is also called marine clay. Ilite is fine odorless powder with a slightly grainy feel to it with a light green color. It acts like a magnet for impurities, drawing them to the surface as it exfoliates. As it unclogs the pores it absorbs excess oil and shrinks the pore. It’s the most effective for oil skin but should only be used once a week.

How to do a clay mask

  • Gently cleanse your face and pat it dry.
  • Pre-mixed clay: Use your fingers to spread a thin layer clay onto your face.
  • Dry clay: Mix 2 parts liquid to 1 part clay, adding more water if the mask is too dry. It should feel like a spreadable paste.
  • Apply the mask and keep it on for around 10-15 minutes. If you have dry skin don’t leave it on until it’s completely dry. If you have a T-Zone then apply the mask to that area only.
  • Remove the mask by gently splashing warm water over your face. If you do use a face cloth be sure to gently pat off the mask rather than wiping it off.
  • Let your face dry naturally and enjoy your glowing complexion.

Maskne Prevention

There are some things you can do to help prevent or reduce maskne:

  • Go naked. Give up your foundation since it can build up moisture inside your mask. Foundation can also stain your cloth masks.
  • Avoid face creams that are alcohol-based or have artificial scents. Both can irritate your face.
  • Sunblock with zinc oxide or titanium is a good option to create a moisturizing layer to reduce contact dermatitis.
  • Change your mask as soon as it feels moist. Wet masks add to the bacterial load on your skin.
  • Use a clean mask every day and wash re-usable masks daily.


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