4 mud masks worthy of a selfie

Go ahead and post it on Instagram; your skin will thank you.

Celebrity beauty routines can sometimes to be a little over-the-top, but there's one relatable process that seems to keep popping up on the Instagram feeds of stars like Emilia Clarke, Bella Hadid and Miley Cyrus: mud masks.

“Mud masks are known for their clarifying properties, specifically sulfur or bentonite clay,” says dermatologist Michael Swann in Springfield, MO. “These ingredients detoxify acne-prone skin by adhering to and ‘pulling out’ the oil.” Sulfur is also a key ingredient in most pimple-drying spot treatments, which is why some people use mud masks to dry up existing blemishes.

A little background on these beauty products: Many mud masks have ingredients derived from nutrient-rich riverbanks or wetlands, but there are numerous steps between the mineral sourcing and what you put on your face. However, some mud masks do have traces of peat in their ingredients (like Peter Thomas Roth’s popular mask, listed below), whereas others have a clay base. So, yes, the words “mud” and “clay” are often interchangeable in the marketing of these products, and at their root, they have the same intended use. Any 'mud' you apply to your face is ultimately a cosmetic clay, which works “by binding impurities and oil,” says Swann. They then exfoliate the stratum corneum—in other words, the product dissolves the dead layer of skin that sits atop your lively cells—resulting in a bright complexion.

Swann suggests doing a mask once every week or two; and pay attention to the instructions on each container, as the time spent wearing each mask differs from one product to the next (though it’s usually between 5–15 minutes). Doing masks too frequently or too long will dry out and irritate the skin.

These four muds promise the cleanest complexion:

ahava purifying mud mask, $33

People travel from all corners of the world to purify their skin with Dead Sea mud; go there and you’ll see AHAVA sold at every shop nearby. (Its skincare lineup is derived from the toxin-clearing mud in the Dead Sea.)
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glamglow supermud clearing treatment, $69

This is GLAMGLOW'S densest mask to date, which aims to help shrink the appearance of your pores.
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omorovicza ultramoor mud mask, $125

Extracted from Lake Heviz near Budapest, this Hungarian moor mud has plankton-derived exopolysaccharides that lift the skin by firming collagen and plumping fine lines.
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peter thomas roth irish moor mud mask, $58

The beauty company derives its black mud mask from Irish moor soil (that is, the acidic soil from unfarmed wetlands), combining the peat with seaweed, volcanic ash and charcoal.
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