Nota bene: I have 0,00 idea how this sorcery works from a scientific point of view (which is obviously my favourite point of view when it comes to skincare), so please don’t expect any rational explanations from me — the efficiency of this method is purely based on anectodal report. I can only say that it worked for me and several other people on r/ScA, and it didn’t destroy my skin in the 3+ years that I’ve been doing it more or less regularly. It may or may not work for you, though I would advise people with very dry or extremely irritated skin to stay away from it.
What did I do?
I don’t know if I already mentioned it to you, but I’m not a big fan of clay; I hate the tight feeling that it leaves after I’ve washed it off. From time to time, tough — usually once or twice per month —, my skin does feel like it could benefit from a little clay maskin’ session, and that’s when I give in and slap on a little of the r/ScA-famed Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque. Beware, this stuff smells like you smeared toothpaste all over your face! (Something which I’m guilty of having done regularly in my early, acne-ridden teenage years, but that’s another story.)
Now, after you’ve applied it to your main problem areas, you let it dry as usual. (Some people like to send selfies over Snapchat at this point.) When your face feels like it might crack as soon as you try to smile, grab a facial oil of your choice (mine is argan), apply a very generous amount to your face, and massage it in until the mask soaks up the oil and sort of… flakes off? I don’t really know how to describe it, but it’s a big hot mess, so you might want to do it in the shower. I like to use this little pink silicone massage thingy that I got at my local chemist, as I find it adds a very gentle physical exfoliating action to the whole process.
As I said, I have no idea how exactly this works. However, I find that the addition of oil to the dried-up clay takes away some of that tight feeling that I usually get afterwards. Clay itself seems to help boosting collagen fibre synthesis by up to 50% (the only thing in this post that is backed up by an animal study: ), and in conjunction with the oil, I find that the fine dehydration lines on my forehead and around my eyes were somehow diminished (yes, I’m 18 and I have dehydration lines — go cry me a river). I’m not a cosmetic chemist or anything, but I think that sounds legit, doesn’t it?
The biggest effect that I observed, though, was how soft and smooth my skin was left after rinsing off the whole mixture. I suspect that either kaolin or bentonite clay have some exfoliating properties (although I just found out that the pH of QH MJM is 8, so it should actually be destroying my face, not exfoliating it? lol ), but I will have to do more research about that.
Until then: After learning about the pH of my (until just now) favourite clay mask, I think I’m gonna place an Amazon order on that Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay that all of r/ScA raves about lately. It’s pure bentonite clay, which actually has a pH of 8,0-9,7, but you’re supposed to mix it with raw apple cider vinegar, which has a pH of 4,25-5,0 , so the final pH will probably be something in-between. Can’t wait for my pH paper to arrive to test that!
Bonus tip: Fiddy Snails actually has a very similar masking routine for those who want to get rid of sebaceous filaments! (Featuring BHA, clay masks, OCM and everything.) Go check it out, a lot of people reported their grit fallout was »insane«!
I hope you enjoyed this little »life hack«! I’ll be posting some more whenever it comes to my mind, but with the entrance exams and everything, I scarcely have the energy to wash my face in the evening, leave alone thinking about a proper skincare routine! It’s mostly just cleanser + Nivea Soft Creme for me these days. Maybe a drop of argan oil if I’m feeling fancy. After this is over, I will have to apologise to my skin a lot.
This post doesn’t contain any affiliate links. Affiliate links and PR samples on PALE AS F∗CK are always marked with one (∗) and two (∗∗) asterisks, respectively.
 Valenti, D. M.; Silva, J.; Teodoro, W. R.; Velosa, A. P.; Mello, S. B.: Effect of topical clay application on the synthesis of collagen in skin. An experimental study. Clinical and Experimental Dermatologz, Vol. 37 No. 2 2012, p. 164-168
 dewshico: The pH of Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque is 8 — safe to use on face? reddit.com/r/SkincareAddiction 2014
 valentinedoux: Aztec Secret (aka calcium bentonite clay) should be mixed with raw apple cider vinegar, not water. reddit.com/r/SkincareAddiction 2013