Clay Mask vs Mud Mask: What is The Difference Between Them?

Published August 22, 2020 | Published by Daisy Cabral

When someone brings up the topic of a face mask, many people picture someone wrapped up in a fluffy white bathrobe at a luxurious spa and a light green-blue paste artfully smeared across the surface of their face, accompanied by two slices of cucumber covering their eyes. Face masks are not only considered a symbol of indulgence, relaxation, and the very basics in self-care and pampering in the beauty world but are also considered a luxury.

It’s time for a little self-indulgence, and you've heard there are many different benefits to using a face mask. The problem reveals itself as you march down the skincare aisle: you have so many different options to choose from it's hard to know where to begin.

There are many questions to ask yourself. Do you want a mask that exfoliates your dead skin? What about one that soothes irritated skin or firms and tones? Are there masks that will leave your skin glowing and gorgeous? A hydrating mask that leaves your skin silky smooth to the touch? Maybe one that will draw those pesky impurities to the surface and stimulates the circulation to leave you feeling refreshed and energized?

Most importantly, what is the difference between a mud mask and a clay mask? We're here to help make this decision a little bit easier by explaining the differences between the two below.

Clay Masks

Not just good for throwing pots, plates, and making sculptures, Clay masks are well known as being great for your skin. From being highly absorbent without stripping all the oils away to having a brightening effect on your skin and even helping fight off acne breakouts, clay masks are one of the big go-tos for face masks.

There are several different types, and colors, of clay out there today. Clay types tend to reflect two things: their location of origin and their chemical composition. The biggest differences between the many types of clay are the types of minerals that run through them, and thus what they have to offer your skin. We will introduce you to the three most popular and common types of clays used in masks.

Smectic Clay is most commonly found in degrees of white to light green in terms of color. Think of your stereotypical face mask and you will likely bring to mind one made from Smectic clay. Found all over the world, and most well known in the beauty industry as either Sea Clay or French Green Clay, it is rich in calcium, silica, manganese, iron, and magnesium, and is believed to do wonders for those with oily skin in particular. It’s also believed to help balance your skin’s natural oil production to help you maintain that healthy glow without over-drying or making your skin feel greasy. Some people even say it’s great for dandruff!

Did you know that Smectite Clay is also found on the planet Mars? Talk about an out of this world skincare treatment! Just to note though, actual Sea Clay is harvested from the areas in and around sea beds themselves, whereas French Green is harvested from varying areas in France proper.

Bentonite Clay forms from volcanic ash and is both named after and found in large quantities in the Fort Benton, Wyoming area in the United States. While most commonly found there, Bentonite clay is also found anywhere volcanic ash has settled into the ground.

Another clay commonly seen in shades of white or pale ivory, Bentonite clay is known to contain natural minerals such as magnesium, calcium, and iron. Bentonite clay's well-known absorbency is also believed to be beneficial in treating oily skin and acne breakouts. This is because of the absorbent power of the clay. That power aides in removing the excess sebum, or natural oil, from the skin's surface and soothes the inflammation that causes breakouts. 

While commercially available masks are available for purchase, you can also have a fun Do-It-Yourself project at home by purchasing your own materials. All you need for a mask is bentonite clay powder and water. Mix it into a thick paste and apply to any areas of skin that have high rates of excess oil or acne breakouts. Leave it on for twenty minutes and listen to some nice music while you wait. Make sure to rinse carefully and thoroughly and be sure to repeat two to three times a week for the best effects.

Did you know that Bentonite clay is also known as Montmorillonite clay and is named after the commune of Montmorillon, located in central-western France?

Kaolin Clay originates in hot, humid areas and runs the gamut of colors ranging from purest white to yellow, red, and even pink! Is your skin only a little oily and you're worried about drying your skin out? Have no fear, Kaolin clay masks are here!  

One of the most popular types of clay in the beauty industry, Kaolin clay widely used in today's facial masks and body wrap treatments, but it's also used in cosmetics and cleansers. Kaolin clay is considered one of the most versatile clays in the spa world because of the many uses and benefits. This clay mask is gentle on the skin without overly stripping it of its natural oils. Kaolin clay will help get rid of that dry, flaky skin to leave you feeling clean and refreshed after each use. 

Kaolin clay is also believed to be one of the best clay masks to use if you have particularly sensitive skin and are worried about irritating your skin.

In conclusion, if your skin is on the oily side, you’re prone to acne breakouts, you’ve accidentally stumbled into a poison ivy patch, have a mild sunburn, or just want a skin treatment that leaves you feeling beautiful and your skin smooth to the touch? We would recommend a clay mask for your next home spa day. 

As a rule of thumb, we believe that the lighter the color of clay, the more gentle the effects on your skin will be. Like any goodskin care regime, please make sure you apply a mask to a freshly washed face; and be sure to use a gentle toner and moisturizer after using any type of mask to maximize the effects and benefits.

Just be sure to be skeptical about claims that a clay mask can detox your body. It can pull dirt and impurities out of your skin, sure, but it doesn’t go any deeper than that. For that, you’ll need a detox plan that involves dietary cleansers, though you can eat some small amount of clay for a bit of internal effect, in the right circumstances.

Mud Masks

Mud is everywhere. Is there dirt? You have mud! Cultures all over the world have turned to mud as a skincare and beauty product from the dawn of time. Thanks to the modern beauty industry, we don't have to worry about any unexpected surprises in our face masks, as there are plenty of options for mud masks both natural and commercially made.

Mud, in comparison to Clay, is considered to be more of a skin healer and cleanser than an absorber of excess sebum. Many commercially made options offer a blend of mud and other healthy and beneficial ingredients such as green tea, charcoal, and honey. We will go through a couple of the most popular types of mud masks available and their benefits for your skin.

Dead Sea Mud. Taken from the Dead Sea, a saltwater lake bored by Israel, the West Bank, and Jordan, this mud is rich and abundant with a unique combination of minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and sodium. Used to treat everything from dry skin to pain and inflammation to chronic conditions like psoriasis, it's little wonder why the Dead Sea mud is so popular in face masks.

Having trouble with dry and sensitive skin on your face in particular? A nice Dead Sea mud mask is just the thing you need. The mask is believed to help exfoliate and remove that dead skin while the magnesium and salt help your skin improve its functionality by making it more elastic and smooth to the touch. A note for those with any metal allergies or sensitivities, some trace amounts of chrome and nickel are commonly found in Dead Sea mud and thus may want to be avoided. Most people with healthy skin, however, have little reason to be concerned.

Volcanic mud masks are also popular. Like Dead Sea mud masks, these mud masks are believed to work the best in nourishing your skin back to health thanks to the anti-bacterial minerals and vitamins present. Volcanic mud is also known for its natural exfoliating properties and having a positive impact on skin inflammation without stripping away the natural oils on our skin.

Volcanic mud masks are commonly combined with other popular skincare ingredients like Green Tea Matcha. 

Green Tea's antioxidants are well known for fighting off the free radicals that cause cellular damage and can even cause cancer, but did you know that it also fights premature aging by repairing and rejuvenating dying skin cells? Not only does it repair your skin from the inside, but it also leaves dull skin looking healthier and firmer as well.

Volcanic and the Dead Sea mud share a common set of benefits to those looking for their next mask, and that is the cleansing and moisturizing effects they have. For those wanting to regain or improve their natural elasticity, or even wanting younger, healthier-looking skin? Mud is the way to go. Add in some honey or green tea for additional benefits and a much more luxurious feeling mask! As an aside, Volcanic mud masks can feel a little harsher and grittier on sensitive or inflamed skin, so keep that in mind when trying to choose which type of mud mask is best for you.

Picking Between Clay or Mud Masks

We believe that the key differences between a clay mask and a mud mask are their purposes and types of skin they target in their use.

If you're acne-prone and despairing over oily skin and are looking for anti-inflammation, anti-acne, and anti-oily skin properties in your face mask? A clay face mask is just the spa treatment you need to leave your skin feeling refreshed and soft to the touch. Say good-bye to that oily skin.

If you are prone to dry skin and inflammation and are looking for exfoliation, rejuvenation, and cleansing properties in your choice of face mask, or if you have very sensitive skin? We believe you will want to consider the benefits of investing in a mud mask to help exfoliate and nourish your skin back to its healthy self once more.  

As always, if you have any concerns about the possible interactions with clay or mud on your skin, or have particularly severe eczema or psoriasis, please reach out to your doctor or dermatologist for guidance before using a mud or clay face mask. When using any new product for the first time, we highly recommend following a professional’s advice by doing a skin test on a small area of your body, like on the arm, before you commit to a full mask in case of unforeseen reactions. 

If you experience any hives, breakouts, or blisters, contact your doctor immediately and do not use the product again. 

In the end, clay masks and mud masks each have their own uniquely wonderful properties that will benefit your next spa day no matter which option you choose. Which of the two face mask types do you think will or have worked best for your personal skin type?

Are you Team Mud Mask or Team Clay Mask all the way? Let us know in the comments!

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