Long before modern ingredients, people looked no further than Mother Nature to keep their skin looking its best. In fact, the indigenous people of Mesopotamia, which is widely known as the benchmark of civilization in the west, utilized mud and clay for both medicinal and aesthetic purposes, due to its composition of botanicals, enzymes, and minerals. Today, although there are myriad products and ingredients available to help clients achieve softer, hydrated, and healthy skin, treatments featuring mud and clay remain in demand because of their natural and proven benefits. “Mud and clay masks have oil-controlling properties, absorb toxins, and purify the skin,” says Cassie Miller-Hart, west coast regional educator for HydroPeptide. “Minerals in mud aid in detoxification and provide nutrient support to the skin. Mud is a centuries-old, tried-and-true step in beauty regimens for its unique mineral content and healing properties.”
For hundreds of years, bentonite clay has been used for both medicinal and beauty purposes in many cultures, because this particular form of clay is excellent at drawing out impurities from the skin. At My Oasis Spa (Whittier, CA), clients can experience the benefits of bentonite firsthand with a variety of bentonite clay treatments. For example, they can choose to add the Back Body Scrub, which helps remove excess oil to prevent breakouts on the back while stimulating the lymphatic system. Bentonite clay is combined with jojoba, peppermint, and tea tree essential oils to gently exfoliate and hydrate the skin.
Treatments incorporating mud and clay are especially beneficial to those suffering from acne because of their drying properties. “Mud or clay treatments are great for clients with oily or acne-prone skin,” says Lydia Sarfati, CEO and founder of Repêchage. “These skin types tend to produce excess sebum and bacteria, which lead to clogged pores as well as inflammation. Mud and clay masks help to disinfect, as they cleanse and calm the skin.” At Dolce Vita Day Spa (Houston), visitors have a variety of options to choose from that feature Hungarian wellness mud, the only therapeutic mud authorized to be used in medicinal spas in Hungary. Among the most popular treatments is the Acne Mud Facial ($90, 60 minutes), which helps improve the condition of acne, reduce the appearance of large pores, and revitalize the skin. And because the mud used contains almost 60 percent silicon dioxide, it helps maintain skin’s elasticity.
But, beware, warns Miller-Hart. The same properties and benefits mud and clay offer for those suffering from skin conditions may prove detrimental for clients with regular or dry skin. “Because mud and clay masks typically have a drying effect on some skin types, I recommend looking for one that has hydrating properties, in addition to the other active ingredients,” she says. “As an esthetician, one of my favorite tricks is to apply a serum-based product before the mask application. This will allow the beneficial actives to penetrate into the skin and minimize the drying.”
According to Annet King, director of global education of Dermalogica, it is important to take into account which type of mud or clay product you choose. “With body masks, it needs to penetrate the skin, but then you need to be able to get it off the skin quickly,” says King.
At The Standard Spa (Miami), guests can enjoy the Mud Lounge. Before, between, or after treatments, for $20, they can choose from Red Earth Detoxifying Mud, Purifying Golden Body Mud, or Spirulina Smoothing Mud, which they then apply themselves all over their bodies and faces before relaxing in one of the spa’s bayside lounge chairs. The mud then tightens pores, clears toxins, and improves skintone.