Think of volcanic ash and you may envision images of gas masks and coughing. But volcanic ash clay, also called sodium bentonite clay, actually has many great benefits for skin health. In fact, Cleopatra used the clay as part of her beauty routine. You don't have to trek to volcanic territory to take advantage of the benefits -- many cosmetics companies are now incorporating volcanic ash clay into their products.
Bentonite clay is made up of aged volcanic ash. First discovered in 1898, it was found in the largest known deposit of bentonite clay located in Fort Benton, Wyoming. It has a strong negative charge that bonds to the positive charge present in many toxins. It also has swelling properties, which cause it to open like a porous sponge when mixed with water. Toxins are drawn to the sponge through the negative electrical charge and are bonded to it, thus pulling them out of clogged pores.
The Skin Types
Volcanic ash clay products are great for all skin types, but are especially beneficial for oily, acne-prone and clogged complexions that can benefit from the magnet-like action of the clay. Products with volcanic ash often include other ingredients, such as exfoliating sugar or detoxifying White China Clay, that help remove dirt and environmental toxins for an overall healthy glow.
Those who want to remove impurities and dead skin cells on the face and body can use an exfoliator made with volcanic ash clay. To use, start by rinsing your face or body with warm water and massage the exfoliator gently into the skin; rinse off with warm water. To use a store-purchased volcanic clay ash mask, place a warm wash cloth over your face to open up the pores. Smooth the mask over your wet face, allow to dry and rinse.
In addition to purchasing products that include volcanic ash clay, you can purchase the clay in its pure form at health and wellness stores. Mix equal parts clay with distilled water to make a facial mask. Another option is to ad ¼ cup of volcanic ash to your tub for a detox bath. Finally, bentonite clay can be applied to blemishes, insect bites, cuts, skin itching, or burns to promote healing.