Are Dry Powder Masks Better For You (and Your Skin) Than Wet Masks?

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Jasmine Garnsworthy, founder of natural beauty brand The Buff, thinks so. When I interviewed her about her personal must-have products (you can read the full interview here), Jasmine couldn’t say enough about the importance of a good dry mask. 

“Find a mask that is a dry powder and you add water to it, rather than getting a wet face mask or a sheet mask,” she told me. “If [the mask] already has water in it, they’ve added a lot of preservatives to stop bacteria from growing in the mask. But if you have dry mask, it’s normally much more pure because they don’t have to worry about it sitting for a long period of time.”

The logic checks out. Dry masks don’t harbor bacteria the way wet masks do, so not only are they healthier for your skin, but dry masks last forever. Jasmine recommends The Problem Solver Correcting Mask from May Lindstrom ($100 from Goop).

My personal favorite dry masks are all clay-based, since clay is a super-absorber. When clay is mixed with water, it develops an electrical charge that literally draws in excess oils, toxins, and impurities from the skin like a magnet. It's powerful stuff.

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Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay is without a doubt the best mask you’ve never heard of–and it's under $10, too. Made from “bentonite clay from Death Valley, California, where it is sun-dried for up to six months in temperatures that sometimes reach 134 degrees,” Aztec Secret was inspired by the beauty rituals of Cleopatra, the ancient Romans, and even philosopher Pliny the Elder, who apparently loved a good clay mask to get rid of his blackheads. Who knew?

Ritual is a good word to describe the process of applying this clay mask, too. Aztec Secret recommends that you mix the dry clay with apple cider vinegar (for a deeper clean) or water (for a more soothing experience), and only handle it with non-metal utensils–i.e., don’t use a metal spoon or bowl to mix up the mask! Activated bentonite clay is so powerful that it will absorb the metals it touches, rendering the mask less effective.

Another way to moisten up a dry mask is with a hydrosol (basically, flowers distilled in water), and Evan Healy makes a really great dry powder and hydrosol set with rose clay. I just put a spoonful of this clay in my hand, spritz it with 4-5 sprays of hydrosol, and mix it up with my fingers before applying to my face.

Looking for a mask that’s safe to use on acne, rosacea, or eczema? Go for French green clay–it’s got all of the absorbent qualities of normal clays, plus the added bonus of improving skin's circulation and regeneration (thanks to the decomposed plant matter found inside). I like mixing French green clay with a little bit of Manuka honey for a slightly-more moisturizing mask.

In general, when whipping up a dry mask, you should combine one part powder with two parts water. Sure, dry masks may require a little more effort on your part than wet masks do–but the results are so, so worth it. 

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Get Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay here.
Get Evan Healy's Rose Clay here and Rose Hydrosol here.
Get French green clay here.

SKINJessica DeFinoComment