February 10, 2012

How To Get Rid of Blackheads

Surprise, surprise, it's not those infamous pore strips you tried when you were 13. But you will not believe how excited I was when I found something that worked.

Exfoliating scrubs claim to do it, toners claim to accomplish it, but nothing I've ever tried before has made much of a difference. Let's be honest, the residue on the sticky side of your pore strip is just dead skin and a few hairs, because the number of blackheads on your nose stays the same.

My secret is green clay.

Clay has been used medicinally and cosmetically around the world for centuries by indigenous people. Its use, both external and internal, dates back to Ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian cultures. Clays contain an incredible amount of trace minerals, and montmorillonite clay can contain as many as 75 different ones.

I first tried French bentonite clay masks because a friend said it helped balance her hormonal skin. This was the moment I was first hooked. My addiction began with little individual use packets for about $3 each. But then I discovered a brand called Aztec Secret in the aisles of Whole Foods. This tub was $8 for 22oz, which was an incredible price in comparison. Because I've been using it for months and have barely made a dent, it's definitely worthy of Budget Edition Status.

The mask is simple to whip up. Combine a spoonful or two of clay powder with apple cider vinegar in a ceramic bowl. Mix it up until your mask is the desired consistency, similar to drizzled frosting. Then spread it on your face and let it dry. This will take 15-30 minutes depending on how thick you pile it on. You will feel a tightening effect as the clay dries, which is particularly satisfying. Once the green clay mask has dried, simply rinse it off with warm water. After removing the mask, you will notice a significant difference in your skin: your pores will be smaller and the number of blackheads will be diminished. Some people claim that it can even plump skin and reduce fine lines.

So why does clay accomplish what Bioré can't? Clay has some surprising medicinal properties. Some skin infections have been treated by montmorillonite clay (the main component of bentonite clay), probably due to its antibacterial qualities. Scientific studies have shown clay to be an effective treatment for boils, acne, ulcers, abscess, and seborrhoea. One hypothesis for clay's detoxifying effect is explained simply by Suzanne Ubick: the negative electrical charges of tiny clay particles attract positively charged toxins. In addition, clay can absorb up 200 times its own weight in water. This means as the clay sits on your skin, it is absorbing oil, dirt and impurities from deep inside your pores.

I have found that this mask is slightly drying. For this reason, I typically only apply it to my T-zone, where I need it. Depending on your skin type, feel free to spot treat or apply liberally. Oily skin will especially benefit from it applied to your entire face.

Just a heads up, when you rinse off the mask you might notice that your skin is slightly red and blotchy. Don't worry, this only lasts about an hour and it fades quickly. Just don't use this mask 15 minutes before a hot date.

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Images courtesy of: 
1. Me
2. Me 

I have nothing to disclose. I sought out this product and was not compensated monetarily or otherwise for this post. 

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