Given our love for masks, it's only natural to understand these natural clays that skincare brands and DIY aficionados swear by!
Clay has been revered for its purifying and beautifying properties by indigenous civilisations since time immemorial. Even as young girls, you must've heard your mom or grandma sing praises of clay masks for cleansing the face. Our attempt to unearth more about the miraculous benefits of clay landed us into the wonderful world of Pelotherapy. Let's take a look at what this buzzword is all about.
What is Pelotherapy?
Simply put, Pelotherapy is the practice of applying clay on the skin for therapeutic benefits. Mud baths, face packs, etc. all fall under pelotherapy. Clays are said to be the most effective, natural and inexpensive way to assist in pulling toxic metals and chemicals out of the body.
What makes clay so awesome?
Clay is naturally available and comes without any of those complicated chemicals we're so used to seeing on commercial skincare products. It's loaded with active ingredients like sulfur, minerals and botanical extracts that are anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory in nature.
All kinds of clay possess the property of adsorption. What does that mean?
Adsorption is the chemical reaction where molecules bind to a surface. The ions in clay are negatively charged, whereas the toxins in the skin are positively charged. The opposite charges attract, and that's how clay manages to pull up all the dead cells, dirt and toxins from the skin. Clay's adsorption properties also make it very helpful in combatting skin inflammation, swellings and cysts.
When clay soaks up all the gunk and toxins from your skin via adsorption, it makes room available in your skin for nutrients and minerals. So, while the clay adsorbs toxins, the skin absorbs essential nutrients from the clay.
What are the different types of clay used?
Bentonite: Sodium Bentonite is a combination of montmorillonite and volcanic ash. Bentonite Clay is adsorbent and can draw oils and toxins from the skin. It is one of the best clays for making clay masks and poultices. Bentonite is extremely popular for its skin tightening and cleansing properties, making it a great choice for those who have oily and congested skin.
Kaolin: Kaolin offers something for every skin type. This clay is available in colours ranging from white to yellow to pink to red. Of these, white or china clay is the mildest, making it great for sensitive and dry skin. It helps stimulate circulation while gently exfoliating and cleansing. Yellow kaolin is more absorbent and boosts circulation, while still retaining its mild nature. Pink kaolin is a mix of white and red clay, and is perfectly gentle yet effective for combination skin. Lastly, red kaolin has the most absorbent powers and is an ideal choice for those with sensitive skin.
Rhassoul: Moroccan Rhassoul clay comes from the mountains of Morocco and is known to work wonders for the skin as well as hair! Rhassoul has a deep earthy red colour, and is rich in silica, magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium and sodium. It tones and tightens the skin, while also keeping it hydrated. When used on the hair, this clay zaps up all the excess buildup of oil, sweat and scalp impurities, leaving you with shiny, voluminous hair.
French Green: French green clay is also called Illite Clay or Sea Clay. It gets its green colour from the decomposed plant matter and iron oxide. This is also telling of its quality – you never buy French green clay that's grey or white in colour. It is rich in important minerals and phytonutrients. It improves blood circulation, tightens the pores and helps in oil control. It's also used in spot treatments for back acne and pelotherapy reflexology treatment.
Multani Mitti (Fuller’s Earth): Multani Mitti or Fuller’s Earth forms as a result of pure decomposed volcanic ash. It is commonly used for its ability to reduce acne scars, blemishes and blackheads. Multani Mitti has mild bleaching properties, so it helps in skin lightening too (especially useful to get rid of that tan). It also helps hydrate dry skin via exfoliation.
Is it easily available in India?
Well, yes! Since generations. Application of Multani mitti (Fuller’s Earth) and ubtan fall under pelotherapy. Indian households have been reaping the benefits of clay for skincare before the term pelotherapy was even coined!
Did you check online and ask around a few pharmacies if these are available? May I also suggest calling up 2-3 spas ( llike Four seasons, oberoi , rudra, Myraah etc to find out where you can get some clay therapy and the type of clays they use and approx price range? )
Although, one might question the availability of particular clays, it isn’t very difficult to get your hands on them in today's times. Online shopping websites, boutique skinscare brands, and even pan-India chain of chemists stock most kinds of clay and will also help you get the clay you are looking for. ---