Traditional mud masks are smooth in texture and are designed to be applied directly to facial skin so that they will absorb oils, smooth wrinkles and tighten skin as the mud dries. Most exfoliating treatments involve either mild abrasives or mildly acidic chemical treatments, neither of which can be found in natural mud masks.
Do Mud Masks Actually Exfoliate Skin?
Some beauty products are marketed as two-in-one exfoliating treatments and mud masks. Though the specific ingredients vary from one brand to the next, most of these solutions are smooth blends of mud, clay or cream with tiny abrasive particles mixed in. The particles may be grains of pumice, sea salt, synthetic microdermabrasion beads or other gentle exfoliating agents.
Exfoliating mud masks are typically used in two stages. First, the mask is applied to dampened facial skin and is gently massaged into the skin, allowing the abrasive particles to scrub away dead skin cells. Then the solution is left on the face until it hardens, tightening and purifying the skin in the process.
It is possible to obtain the tightening and purifying benefits of a mud mask and the rejuvenating effects of exfoliation without using a two-in-one exfoliating mud mask. But in order to do this, one should first exfoliate the skin using one of the methods described below and then follow it up with a non-abrasive natural mud mask.
Effective Means of Skin Exfoliation
The most common methods of skin exfoliation are those that rely on the use of gentle abrasives. Several over-the-counter products like creams with abrasive particles mixed in, microfiber towelettes, pumice stones and facial loofahs can be used to remove dead skin cells without damaging the healthy ones that lie beneath. Many professional spas offer similar services, sometimes using small hand tools that blow streams of air combined with abrasives like crushed pumice or almond shells.
Another method of skin exfoliation is the use of chemical processes like chemical facial peels. There are a few over-the-counter products that allow for skin exfoliation of this variety, but because these treatments are somewhat harder to safely apply and manage, they are more common in professional day spas and salons. People who require intensive or frequent exfoliation for management of serious skin conditions may find that chemical processes offer better results than abrasive treatments.
Benefits of Mud Masks
Mud mask treatments generally consist of applying purified mud to the face, allowing it to dry and then gently rinsing it away with clean water. Because chemicals and abrasives are not found in natural mud masks, users will only experience slight facial abrasion as they rinse away the dried mud.
Although not ideal for exfoliation, natural mud masks can be greatly beneficial to people who suffer from acne or oily skin. This is because the mud particles tend to absorb oils from deep within the skin as they dry, trapping the oils in the mud. The process also tightens the skin to a certain extent, making it a solution for wrinkles and loose or sagging facial skin. The mud will draw a bit of moisture out of the skin as it dries, however, so the use of facial moisturizers is often recommended as a follow-up treatment.