Ban oily, icky summer skin and unveil your glow with a rejuvenating clay mask.

Getting dirty has never felt so clean. Mud masks have come back onto the beauty scene with a vengeance – ready to retaliate against problematic summer skin.

Between the greasy sunscreens, sweat and grime from the summer season’s activities, a mud mask can be the perfect ending to an already grubby day.

Masks have come a long way since the era of our pre-teenage-dom (my cure-all beauty elixir was a blend of egg yolks and whatever else I saw fit from my mother’s kitchen cabinets).

Today, masks are making big claims: minimizing imperfections, zapping blackheads, shrinking pores, mattifying and purifying skin, but will they live up to the hype? I picked the beauty brain of Denver medical esthetician Christian Onassis of Fante Eye and Face Centre to unearth the dirty scoop on mud masks.

“Simplicity is key when it comes to mud,” Onassis said.

Well, you ask, isn’t mud all “simple”? Not quite. All mud is not created equal. Going to your local mud hole to bathe in wet earth may do more harm than good. The land could inhabit pesticides, insects, fertilizer, and who in the devil knows what else.

“There are an awful lot of things in nature that aren’t good for you,” Onassis said. “The joke I always like to tell is, ‘Poison ivy is botanical.’”

Manufacturers powder the clay in mud masks to its finest form and purify the clay.

But, don’t be fooled by expensive products claiming to be better than others – that’s just outright filthy.

Rainbow Research French Green Clay Mask, $6, Health food stores

Rainbow Research French Green Clay Mask Powder, $6, Health food stores

Onassis recommends green clay as the best, and in its most basic form can be found at any health foods store on the cheap (try Rainbow Research French Green Clay Mask Powder, $6, pictured).

Although masks have been known to aid in the overall look and feel of your skin — most popularly that illusive “glow” we all lust after — its main purpose is to detoxify the skin, drawing impurities out.

Don’t be fooled by additional ingredients either, they are just fluff, Onassis said. Many that claim to contain fancy types of mud usually are just made up of what is called fullers earth, a clay earthy material also used in dry shampoos. Check ingredient labels.

I personally tested Fresh Umbrian Clay Mattifying Mask ($48, Sephora) and fell in love. I could feel the greenish mask tightening my skin as it dried, and the product smelled delicious for being made of dirt! I did not mind paying a little extra for the chamomile, sandalwood oil and lavender in the product.

Fresh Umbrian Clay Mattifying Mask, $48, Sephora

Fresh Umbrian Clay Mattifying Mask, $48, Sephora

Of course, because I loved how squeaky clean my skin felt, I was ready to use the mask the following day, but Onassis said this would have been a mistake. Here are the guidelines to getting the most out of your mud mask:

  • Mud masks are not beneficial for all skin types. They suit normal, oily or combination skin types best. Dry and aging skin should avoid them.
  • Once per week is a good standard of use. Any more and you run the risk of drying the skin out so much it overreacts, secreting more oil, the problem you wanted to banish in the first place.
  • After using a mud mask, be sure to replace what you have taken away from the skin with a nourishing moisturizer.


    Borghese Fango Active Mud for Face and Body, $66, Anywhere Borghese products are sold

  • Use a mud mask as a deep cleanser, a traditional mask or as an overnight spot treatment.
  • To zap blackheads Onassis suggests: 1) steaming your face over a pot of boiling water, 2) squeezing impurities out gently, 3) applying a mud mask, 4) rinsing it off with cold water, and 5) applying apple cider vinegar as a finishing toner. Be sure to get the brand that contains the ‘mother’ of vinegar in it (cellulose and acetic acid bacteria).
  • For added results, use a scrub before a mud mask. Onassis recommends a mixture of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide to create an exfoliating paste used to prep skin.

So, get your glow on. Heck, have a slumber party like you did at age 11 with the mud masks, mani/pedis and popcorn. Just forget the footie pajamas, please.