When searching for effective skincare ingredients, the ground may not be the first place that comes to mind. Mud and clay might not be the most innovative beauty ingredients, but they’re tried and tested and definitely some of the most efficient.
There’s a reason these fine, earthy sediments have been used in facial treatments for centuries. Vitamin and mineral-rich, they are well known for their amazing cleansing, exfoliating, and brightening properties and are easily one of the best things you can slather on your skin.
However, not all mud and clay -based products are made equal.
Of course, the formulas will be different; some gently cleanse while others exfoliate and refine pores and a handful might even plump the skin, but the differences run deeper than that. The type of mud and clay and even where these earthy ingredients were sourced can make a huge difference to how effective a mask is, and the skin concerns it targets.
Mud Vs. Clay. What’s the difference?
Mud or clay, clay or mud, these terms are often used interchangeably, but there’s a difference.
Clay is a specific mineral substance with crystals of silica and alumina that absorbs oils, dirt and impurities making it a good choice for people with oily skin, but it can be drying, especially for those with dry sensitive skin.
Mud on the other hand, is a little less defined and can contain multiple types of minerals, soils, silts and even clays! Mud is water-based and therefore a more hydrating ingredient. The minerals in the mud exfoliate dead skin cells, dirt, oil, and other impurities whilst helping to hydrate your skin and lock in moisture making it an excellent multi-tasking ingredient for all skin types and ideal for those with dryer, more dull skin.
The key differences are the different properties of the mud and clay and types of skin they target in their use. So, depending on your skin type, one may be better suited for your skin than another.
There are countless articles on the different types of clays and their benefits to the skin, so we wanted to dig a little deeper into the natural masking wonders of mud and which ones are worth getting dirty for!
Dead Sea mud
In the world of natural masking, the crème de la crème is said to be Dead Sea mud.
Not even potent antioxidant serums or the skin exfoliating powers of salicylic acid rivals this all-in-one skincare superhero. It’s richly packed with over 21 naturally occurring minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium, sulphur, and bromide absorbed from the Dead Sea which help to keep your skin healthy and youthful.
The high mineral concentrations in the mud exfoliate dead skin cells and clear congestion whilst helping to hydrate your skin and lock in moisture. They also give the mud its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory prowess, reducing the appearance redness and banishing breakouts.
Another super-skin benefit is its rejuvenating powers. It enhances the skin’s elasticity and helps to minimise the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles - think plumper firmer and smoother skin.
Skin types: all skin types. Ideal for dry, dull skin.
A mineral and acid rich plant-derived mud prized in Central Europe for its healing properties. It forms when herbs, plants, grasses and flowers decompose into waters, turning it into a nutritious soup of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.
Moor mud has a variety of benefits; it has mild astringent and anti-inflammatory properties and acts as a natural exfoliator whilst also hydrating the skin.
Skin type: combination, normal and oily skin.
Volcanic mud forms when volcanic ash is combined with water - creating a paste.
It’s acclaimed for its wide array of skin-boosting benefits, with the ability to exfoliate, detoxify, clear impurities, and brighten skin. It draws out impurities and excess oils in the skin which aids in keeping the skin surface even and de-congested whilst preventing pimples.
Skin types: oily and acne prone skin.
Popularised by Iceland’s Blue Lagoon, Icelandic silica mud is a white mud renowned for its cleansing benefits.
Rich in the bioactive blue lagoon silica, it’s said to boost the skin’s barrier function and tightens visible pores, for a fresh and improved complexion.
Skin types: all skin types.
If you have extremely sensitive skin, you should always check with your health professional before using any mud masks for the first time.
So, is it worth getting a little dirty?
Mud masks tend to be gentle, calming and balancing when applied to the skin correctly. When looking for a natural face mask, it’s important to keep the type of mud in mind. The mineral concentrations affect the texture and the effects of these earthy skin saviours.
Clogged pores and a congested skin barrier are typical side effects to the environment as well as modern life. Even if you don’t suffer from frequent breakouts, these earthy masks still help in eliminating dust and other deep-rooted impurities, leaving behind a healthier, plump and clearer complexion.
Plus, they feel amazing on your skin. What other skincare product can you actually see working—drying out to purify pores and exfoliate dull skin in a matter of minutes?
Whilst there are so many different types of natural masks available on the market, few mainstream mud masks actually seem to contain ‘mud’. Most 'mud' masks are actually made with clay. So always check the label if you’re looking for a mud mask!