Boots Botanics Organic Hot Cloth Cleansing Balm

I was into skincare before I was into makeup, so over the years I’ve tried a veritable ton of cleansers. Brands, formats, whatever. What I hadn’t tried, though, was a cleansing balm. After hearing Lisa Eldridge (I think) mention the Boots Botanics Organic Hot Cloth Cleansing Balm being a cost-effective alternative to a more prestigious offering (the Eve Lom one), I decided to find it. As it turns out, my local Target carries it – but it can also be found at Ulta, on drugstore.com and on Amazon (if you’re willing [or don’t have a choice but to] to pay double for it, that is).

Boots Botanics Organic Hot Cloth Cleansing BalmBoots Botanics Organic Hot Cloth Cleansing Balm, $7

Famous is my love (read: disdain) of long product names, but I found that I’m willing to endure it for this little jar. Cleansing balms generally aren’t the type of product one uses to dominate their cleansing routine so much as supplement it; to give it a little boost or pleasant change to the routine. For me, it will not supplant my routine of Cetaphil Gentle + my Clarisonic, but will instead be a welcome once- or twice-per-week addition to it.

Read moreBoots Botanics Organic Hot Cloth Cleansing Balm

Sheet Masks: Not a Fan

Sheet Masks

I received a few sheet masks from a friend a little while ago and decided to get weird and use a couple of them recently.

In short? I don’t care for them. That isn’t to say they are bad – but after two uses of that type of product, I’m just not loving the execution. This is purely a preference thing.

I don’t like how awkward they are to remove from their packaging and unfold. They’re slimy!

Beyond that, they seem a little wasteful to me – after the duration of the mask, you just throw it away. There’s more disposable about it, which I don’t dig. I’d rather have a pot or tube to dispense product from. I can get just what I need, put it where I need it, and not have to throw anything away after each use.

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Worth it? Aztec Healing Clay

Have you heard of it? If you haven’t, that isn’t surprising. If you have, you’re probably a product hipster or other beauty blogger. Aztec Healing Clay is one of those that I get excited to write about because it is under-advertised, not crazy-hyped, but is crazy-good as a deep treatment to help clear out your pores from any ilk that may be hiding within. Gross, but we all know that’s what clay masks are for.

Observe:

Aztec Healing Clay

Aztec Healing Clay

Here’s how to do the thing. Let’s start off with what you need:

Aztec Healing Clay Mask

  • Aztec Healing Clay – You can get it from Amazon for about $8. One pound will last you an absurdly long time
  • Apple Cider Vinegar (bonus points if raw) or Water
  • A non-metal mixing vessel – important! It can be glass, plastic, ceramic, wood, etc – but no metal, please! Bowls and cups are fine
  • A plastic spoon (remember, no metal!) or other utensil to mix with. I use a wooden tongue depressor to mix and even sometimes apply
    •  Usually, though, I apply with a flat foundation brush
  • Gloves (optional)

The unassuming little jar with silly graphics saying it is Aztec Healing Clay. It is a clay mask, but not in an oft-used format; when you open the jar, it is full of … what?

Aztec Healing Clay - Opened

Greenish powder. Aztec Healing Clay is calcium bentonite clay – and Aztec Secret gets theirs from Death Valley, California. Be careful to open in an area that is easy to clean, such as over a sink. The clay powder is very fine and gets all over the damn place very easily. It is an all-natural, single-ingredient, cruelty-free skincare product – how awesome is that? The real beauty of this product is its versatility – although it is a clay mask, it is usable by people with multiple skin types. It isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach; you just change what liquid you mix with the Aztec Healing Clay powder to suit your needs.

I, for example, use Apple Cider Vinegar (ideally, you should use raw ACV, but I don’t keep that on hand and did not want to make a special trip for it.) because my skin is normal/combination t-zone and not sensitive. If you are dry or sensitive, though, you might want to try this with water initially to gauge your skin’s reaction.

Measure equal parts Aztec Healing Clay…

Aztec Healing Clay

And Apple Cider Vinegar (or water)…

Aztec Healing Clay

Into the cup. One tablespoon of each is more than enough to do your whole face and, for me, my neck. You will notice it fizz a little as the vinegar reacts (normal). Quickly and thoroughly mix into a paste…

Aztec Healing Clay

…and then realize it is too thick and spash a little more ACV in.Aztec Healing Clay

If you’re using gloves, put on a glove, scoop some out, and apply it to your face like you would any other clay mask; avoid the eyes, coat everything else. If you went the tongue-depressor, scoop some of the Aztec Healing Clay paste out onto your tool and smooth into your face. This is definitely going to feel like you’re troweling mortar onto your face, but that’s okay – that’s what it should feel like. If you went the brush route, do the same thing – it will feel a little more luxurious than troweling mortar, though. The product itself suggests a layer of clay 1/8″ to 1/4″ thick; the latter is ludicrous to me (go get a ruler, check exactly how thick 1/4″ is. report back. yeah.) but 1/8″ is reasonable.

Aztec Healing Clay

Let it dry, let it dryyyy… sensitive folks, wait ten minutes to twelve minutes and rinse with warm water. Otherwise, 15-20 will do the trick. While the Aztec Healing Clay dries (especially if you go with the longer duration) your face is going to get uncomfortably tight. That is normal and okay – my advice is to avoid making facial expressions while waiting. You may also feel a warming or pulsating sensation – also normal, nothing to fret over. Woo circulation!

Once it is time, fetch thyself a washcloth – one you don’t feel particularly attached to in case it stains. Run some warm water, splash it on your face and then soak the washcloth. You will now have to scrub the Aztec Healing Clay off (no, it does not just rinse off as much as they would like to tell you that is the case). Be patient and go gently – your skin will feel tight from the mask, so rub in little circles, not zig-zagging all over your face tugging it from here to there. Rinse the washcloth off as needed and continue until your face is green bentonite mortar-clay free!

Your skin will likely be a little pink or red. Don’t be alarmed (of course, if you are having an actual reaction you should know that and seek treatment accordingly. I am not a medical professional!) if it is, the mask just got the circulation in your face going. It will subside – mine usually goes away within a half hour, but I’ve heard some people have needed longer. To be on the safe side, you could do this Aztec Healing Clay treatment the evening and give your skin overnight to return to its usual coloring. Slap on your moisturizer of choice (do not skip this! your skin will be thirsty!) and enjoy your very clean, firm, and radiant skin. To heck with a pore strip; this thing demolishes any sebaceous filaments or blackheads you may have.

For as inexpensive as Aztec Healing Clay is and with how awesome it performs, it is really a Holy Grail item when it comes to skincare and is definitely worth it. I switch it up sometimes, but this is definitely a staple in my skincare routine. I personally use this once every week to two weeks depending on how my skin feels…and it has been all the better for it.

Once you’ve gotten used to how to use Aztec Healing Clay, you can check out their (ancient-looking) website for some other skincare recipes!