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Mud masks can certainly help your skin. Just know that your mud mask isn’t going to provide significant long-term effects.
For the most part, your mud mask will likely provide instant short-term results.
Whether it’s a tried-and-true skin care regimen, how often you wash your hair, or the cosmetics you’re curious about, beauty is personal.
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Similar to clay masks, mud masks are known for their antibacterial and exfoliating benefits.
Mud masks may remove impurities from the skin, unclogging pores and absorbing excess oil.
Because of its purifying and detoxifying-like effects, mud masks may be drying to some skin types, such as dry, sun damaged, or combination skin.
They can also irritate sensitive skin types if they’re worn for too long or have additional sensitizing ingredients, like acids or fragrance.
If you have any open wounds or blemishes, it’s probably the best idea to steer clear. Mud masks — like most other facial masks — could irritate the broken skin and strip it further.
Additionally, if your skin is extremely dry or sensitive, mud masks might be too exfoliating for your skin type. Try a test patch on your jawline or another small area on your body to see whether your skin reacts.
If a mud mask irritates your skin in any way, discontinue use immediately.
If your symptoms last more than a day or two or worsen, consult a dermatologist or other healthcare provider. They can advise you on next steps.
There are many types of mud, each sourced from a different location and offering different benefits for the skin.
One of the most common muds used in facial masks is Dead Sea mud.
This mud, sourced from the Dead Sea in the Middle East, is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. The mud is celebrated for its high concentration of magnesium and sodium, and is used to help treat everything from psoriasis to arthritis.
Volcanic mud, sourced from the land surrounding volcanoes, is known for use on the face and body. The mud is suggested to have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Moor mud is a plant-derived mud that contains virtually no clay. The mud has mild astringent and anti-inflammatory properties that are suitable for sensitive skin types.
Popularized by Iceland’s Blue Lagoon, Icelandic silica mud is a light-colored mud known for its cleansing benefits.
One study suggests silica mud is known to have high concentration of bioactive molecules that can help improve skin barrier function and prevent skin aging.
Clay and mud masks are often used interchangeably, but they’re not exactly the same thing.
“Mud” is a more loose category of water mixed with a combination of minerals, soils, silts, or clays. Clay is a specific mineral substance containing crystals of silica and alumina.
Clay, by nature, is more drying than mud can be, as mud typically has a higher concentration of water.
Skin on the more sensitive side? Try the Peter Thomas Roth Irish Moor Mud Purifying Black Mask. The mud is odorless so it’s not as reactive. It’s combined with other ingredients like hijiki seaweed, volcanic ash, and activated charcoal to help soothe.
The Ahava Purifying Mud Mask is ideal for combination skin types that could use exfoliation, thanks to the Dead Sea mud, and hydration, which comes from jojoba oil. Plus, it can be used on the face or body.
Combined with tea tree oil for even more purification, the SheaMoisture African Black Soap Clarifying Mud Mask is a great option for oily and acne-prone skin types.
With thousands of reviews on Amazon, the New York Biology Dead Sea Mud Mask is a popular choice for body exfoliation. Combined with aloe vera, calendula oil, vitamin E, and jojoba oil, the mud can be safely used on the arms and legs as well as the face.
Uniquely packed in a two-step process, the Skyn Iceland Fresh Start Mask contains blue clay and Icelandic mud to help brighten dull and dry skin as well as minimize the appearance of fine lines.
To apply your mud mask to your face, use it in the same order you would with other masks.
First, remove makeup if you’re wearing any, and wash your face.
Next, use clean fingers or a mask brush to apply the mud mask to your face. Focus on the areas that are most in need of purification.
Wear the facial mask for the time recommended on the label or packaging. This is usually no more than 15 minutes.
Rinse off the mask, and pat your skin dry.
To finish your routine, follow up with any serum, moisturizer, oil, or SPF (if it’s daytime).
To apply mud masks to other areas of your body, such as your arms and legs, you’ll want to apply your mixture to clean skin.
Be careful not to apply it to freshly waxed skin. This may irritate it.
Leave the mask on until it hardens, or until the suggested amount of time on the packaging.
Rinse it off, pat dry, and lather your body with a fragrance-free lotion.
Unlike some masks that are generally OK for everyday use, mud masks should only be used up to three times a week. Their detoxifying-like properties can be too drying for everyday use.
If your skin feels overly exfoliated or dry, decrease your use to once a week or once every couple of weeks.
With mud masks, you can expect results instantly.
The minerals in the mud will exfoliate dead skin cells, dirt, oil, and other impurities, making skin appear cleaner, brighter, and less porous.
However, it’s important to note that the instant results of mud masks don’t necessarily last. More research needs to be conducted about the effectiveness of long-term use.
Your run-of-the-mill, spa-worthy mud mask could help give your skin an instant exfoliation and deep cleanse.
Look for mud masks containing quality muds, such as Dead Sea mud, moor mud, or Icelandic silica mud.
If you have an adverse reaction to a mud mask, discontinue use immediately and talk to your provider.
Jen Anderson is a wellness contributor at Healthline. She writes and edits for various lifestyle and beauty publications, with bylines at Refinery29, Byrdie, MyDomaine, and bareMinerals. When not typing away, you can find Jen practicing yoga, diffusing essential oils, watching Food Network or guzzling a cup of coffee. You can follow her NYC adventures on Twitter and Instagram.