On an academic level pimples are developed when oil glands (sebaceous glands) get clogged and infected(1).
Logic might dictate that keeping your skin clean and using products formulated for acne (containing Salicylic Acid, Benzoyl Peroxide, Retinoids, Antibitotics etc.)(2) is all you need to solve the problem, but, any breakout sufferer will argue that this doesn’t always work and certainly is not a miracle solution for breakouts, regardless of brand or price.
Breakouts can be caused by hormonal changes and dietary choices. Dairy and High GI diets have been linked with acne. Lack of vitamins A, D, E and essential fatty acids can also be to blame, but preventing acne by dietary manipulation may not be possible(3). So how do you start treating an issue when you aren’t certain of the cause?
The first step I took was to try determine the cause so I could start to work on an appropriate solution.
I started to track when and where my breakouts occurred using Clue. After three months it became apparent that I would get a chin outbreak on the day my fertile window started. During this window your body produces increased amounts of the estrogen hormone(4). I deduced that this hormonal change was causing the breakouts.
I posed my pesky breakout issue to the Clue community and I got back an awesome tip to try Bentonite Clay Powder as a face mask. I had never heard of it before and at the low low price of R32.95 (Nature’s Choice at Dischem) I decided it was worth a try.
Bentonite Clay is formed from volcanic ash and contains minerals such as iron, sodium, calcium, potassium and magnesium(5). When you add liquid (luke warm water in this case) to the powder, it gives the clay a negative electric charge.
The clay works as a “magnet” and through a process called adsorption, toxins are attracted to the bentonite and bond to the chemicals in the clay(6). These toxins are then carried out of the body in the small spaces created when the clay is wet.
The claims are, that in drawing out these toxins, it:
- Shrinks your pores
- Prevents breakouts, and
- Leaves your skin soft and smooth.
Before I started, I followed the advice of esthetician Veronica Gorgeois – another great suggestion from the Clue community. I enjoy following her tips as she always poses advice in an educational intellectual way, as opposed to fluffy. She has seen success with clay mask “bootcamps” where you apply a clay mask every day for 2 weeks (as long as the skin tolerates it) and then reducing down to 2-3 times a week after that(7). She also recommends leaving the mask on only until it starts to dry and to remove it immediately if any discomfort occurs.
Long story short, I did that for a month and not only did the large pesky breakout clear but I found that it is a great solution for clearing breakouts quickly. It is not a miracle solution for breakouts in that it has not prevented them from coming, but it has decreased the severity and the amount of time a breakout sticks around.
My results? One pimple instead of a few, lasting one to two days instead of a week or longer, reduced redness, clearer skin during the rest of my cycle and refined pores. It’s not an ace but it has become my miracle solution for breakouts.
My tips on using it:
- Do not mix it in a metal bowl or spoon – it breaks the charge.
- It is a difficult clumpy texture once wet and it will take a while to find what mixing method works best for you. You can try this ziplock bag method if you want to contain the mess. I found that pouring a small amount of powder in my hand or a clean surface and adding some water to it to create a paste (mine is still clumpy) which you then smooth over your face (feels like a glue) works best for me.
- I like to wash it off with a gentle exfoliating bath glove to help loosen the clay.
- Always moisturise well afterwards. The mask is drying, but with a good moisturising technique my skin has showed no signs of dryness or flaking.
- If you do your own research you will find that some people mix the clay with apple cider vinegar instead of water. I haven’t tried it but if you want to read this.
Feige is the co-founder of Nutreats. She likes to code things, design things, and all things beauty.