Everyday French Green Clay Bar

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Last September Margo, a reader and fellow clay aficionado, commented to tell me about this clay bar she used to buy at Sephora. It was just straight clay, in bar form, and it was nearly $50. Yipes! Margo quickly figured out that she could make her own for a lot less, and I loved that idea. It’s taken me a while to get to it, but here we are. This French green clay bar is spiked with some of my favourite face mask goodies, and I think you’ll like it.

The basic clay blend is equal parts French Green and Kaolin. French Green clay has been my favourite clay for some time, and Kaolin is really growing on me after some stunning performances in things like my silver powder. Both pack a good, cleansing punch, and are relatively smooth, meaning the bar doesn’t feel like a glob of gravel on your face.

To the clay I’ve added a bit of zinc oxide, which helps aid healing and sooth irritated skin, and can be useful in the fight against acne. I’ve also added a wee bit of allantoin, a naturally-occurring skin conditioning and healing agent that I’m smitten with as of late.

I chose three favourite ingredients to turn this powdery mix into a paste—witch hazel, aloe vera juice, and a bit of melted shea butter. Witch hazel is an astringent that helps fight acne and inflammation, and leaves your skin feeling tightened and refreshed. It also smells a bit like old socks, which is partly why I cut it with some aloe vera juice. Aloe vera is a great natural soothing and healing agent. And last but not least, a wee bit of melted shea butter, to add a touch of oil-based moisture to keep the bar from being too drying on the skin.

The resulting French green clay bar is a great thing to have on hand for on-the-fly thin face mask style face washing, and it has the added benefit of having a delightfully long shelf life as long as you let it dry back out after use. If you don’t have the time for a weekly face mask, this bar just might be your new best friend.

Everyday French Green Clay Bar

1/3 cup French green clay
1/3 cup kaolin clay
1 tbsp zinc oxide
1/8 tsp allantoin (optional) (I use these tiny measuring spoons for tiny measurements like this)

2 tbsp witch hazel
2 tbsp aloe vera juice (not gel!)
8g | 0.28oz shea butter, melted

To start with, you’ll want a silicone mould—I used a soap mould, but something like a silicone cupcake liner or chocolate mould would also work. I chose silicone for its flexibility and non-stick wonders, for easy removal of the bar. If you don’t have anything I’d recommend a 1-cup measuring cup.

Line the bottom of your mould with a cut-to-size piece of parchment paper or wax paper for easy removal of the semi-dry bar.

Whisk the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Slowly add the liquid ingredients, stirring and eventually kneading everything together to form a stiff, sticky paste.

Press the paste into your mould, doing your best to get it all crammed in there and not all over everything else. Cover the sticky mess with some more parchment or wax paper, and press it down with something that’s roughly the same shape and surface area, like the bottom of a glass. Peel off the top parchment and leave the bar to dry for a few hours.

After a few hours you’ll be able to smooth the top of the bar down a bit more if you feel so inclined. Now it’s time to leave it for a few days. Depending on how dry your house is, after a day or three you’ll see notice the bar has pulled away from the edges of the mould entirely. At this point you can tip it out of the mould and set it on a wire rack to dry out the rest of the way. I’d give it at least a week, but if it looks and feels dry enough to you (it should be noticeably lighter without all the water in it, but it’ll still be pretty dense), that’s good enough for me ?

To use, wet your face, and wet one side of the bar by running it under the tap briefly—don’t worry about it crumbling, it’s really very sturdy. Rub the wet part of the bar on your face. The bar will dry out enough to stop gliding fairly fast—I find I have to re-wet it several times to get my entire face. You’ll wind up with a rather thin coating of clay on your face. Leave it to dry while you do other things—it’ll only take a few minutes. Wipe off with a damp washcloth and follow up with some argan oil. Done!

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