For centuries, people have used clay and mud masks to beautify skin. Natural mud and clay masks are time-tested in their ability to remove impurities from the skin, unclog pores, control excessive oil production, and promote an overall healthy glow to the skin without leaving behind residues that clog the pores afterward. September 30 is designated as National Mud Mask Day, so it’s a perfect day to visit your favorite spa and pamper your skin.

Why Mud?

The use of mud/clay masks for cosmetic and therapeutic effects dates to the 16th century Renaissance. In fact, because early mud masks were used therapeutically to treat conditions as varied as osteoarthritis, sciatica, skin diseases, and rheumatic disorders, they were applied by physicians. Over time, mud masks evolved to be used for their cosmetic benefits as well. The antioxidants in today’s mud masks can improve the skin’s overall complexion, minimize the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, and drooping skin, and remove excess oil. Modern masks can also be used in the management of chronic skin conditions such as dermatitis, eczema, vitiligo, rosacea, and psoriasis. Therapeutically, they can increase circulation, ease muscle tension, and relieve pain related to arthritis. Having a mud or clay spa treatment is also a stress-buster that can help you relax and manage tension.

What is a Mud Mask?

Today, there are so many options available for mud and clay masks, it may seem a bit overwhelming and confusing, especially for new clients who aren’t sure what their skin needs. Modern mud and clay masks combine soothing, emulsifying ingredients such as aloe vera and cocoa butter with natural minerals to create a paste-like compound that’s then applied to the face or body. This paste is then allowed to sit, exposed to air, during which time it dries out, drawing skin impurities out of the pores. Once the mask has been exposed to air for a period, it dries out into a “shell,” at which point it’s removed with warm water. The skin revealed beneath is softer, cleaner, and often appears brighter. Here are six benefits you can get from treating yourself to a mud or clay spa treatment that you might not already know!

1. Mud Is a Natural Skin Cleanser

Mud and clay masks have natural absorption properties that make them a fantastic natural skin cleanser. As the minerals dry on the skin, they draw out dirt, oil, and other impurities and toxins that have gathered in the pores and cellular crevices of the skin. This quality makes them ideal for treating acne, oily, or combination skin, and preventing future blemishes.  

2. Mud Nourishes Skin from the Outside In

Mud and clay masks are made from ingredients that are often rich in salts, minerals, and other nourishing elements that promote healthy skin. The nutrients in mud and clay masks are easily absorbed by the body through its largest organ, the skin, whose cells utilize these nutrients to repair and renew. This is why mud masks have historic and modern uses in treating skin conditions like acne and eczema. Because mud masks are generally water-based, they additionally impart a hydrating effect, even as they “dry” on the skin to which they’re applied.

3. Want to Tighten Your Skin & Improve Circulation? Try Mud!

Simply put, skin that’s cleansed, nourished, and hydrated has a tighter, more youthful appearance, improved elasticity, and better circulation. Additionally, some mud masks provide a keratolytic and exfoliant effect that can shrink pores. Mud masks stimulate blood circulation and improve oxygenation to the skin, which can give your skin’s natural collagen production a boost, and deliver an overall tightened, youthful glow, while minimizing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

4. Detox Stressed-Out Skin with a Mud Mask

Skin is the body’s largest organ, containing hundreds of thousands of individual pores. Our pores are how the skin “breathes,” and as such, the skin is constantly subjected to (and filtering out!) toxins and impurities from the environment, as well as collecting secretions like sweat, oil, sebum, and dead skin cells. All these impurities contribute to blackheads, blemishes, acne, and skin that’s dull or weathered in appearance. Mud and clay masks work to draw out these impurities from the pores and bring them to the skin’s surface, where they can be gently removed when the mask has finished drying. Thus, clay and mud masks—especially those containing ingredients such as magnesium and bentonite—have a detoxifying effect that leaves the skin beneath refreshed and renewed.

5. Mud Is a Gentle, Effective Exfoliant

Different formulations of mud and clay masks contain a wide variety of natural-occurring exfoliant minerals, such as bentonite, kaolin, sodium, calcium, potassium, and magnesium. These exfoliants gently remove dead skin cells and other residual impurities when the mask is washed off, revealing the new layer of skin beneath.  

6. Mud Masks = Self Care!

The sixth benefit of mud and clay masks is one that’s intangible, but no less important: spa mud and clay treatments are a way of performing self-care in a relaxed setting. While you might quickly notice the physical effects of a mud mask, such as brighter skin that feels like it can “breathe better,” an overall dewy glow, and the minimization of outward signs of aging, the benefit of self-care is one that’s felt, rather than seen. In a modern world where it’s often difficult to slow down and make an investment in yourself, your visit to a spa is a small, meaningful way that you can care for yourself with some “me-time.” A spa setting allows you the benefit of a quiet space, dedicated to your pampering, as well as a trained specialist whose greatest priority is your experience. No ringing phones, no tugs at your attention—just quiet reflection time as your skin renews. You’ll emerge from your spa appointment feeling fresh and renewed—just like the skin you’re in!

Ready for some self-care in the form of a spa mud mask treatment? Use the Vagaro Marketplace to find a spa in your area where you can get muddy and relax in style!

Header Image: @dvoevnore via Twenty20

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