Lately a certain trend has been blowing up the health and beauty community: the internet is obsessed with clay. Beauty gurus and celebrities alike are raving over the benefits of Bentonite clay (also know as Indian healing clay or Montmorillonite clay). Makeup and beauty expert Farah Dhukai swears by using Bentonite clay in her face and hair masks, and actress Shailene Woodley even admits to eating a small amount of this clay every day as part of a detoxification diet. The relatively new and widespread twitter trend of “skincare threads” are also known to often include Bentonite clay. It’s clear that many people are seeing real results. But how does this clay actually work, and is it right for everyone?
Bentonite clay is composed of volcanic ash, and is named for Benton, Wyoming, where the largest source of the clay is found and most often harvested. It is a long-standing traditional healing method, and has been used for centuries by people in many parts of the world including the Andes, Central Africa, and Australia. There are a few different ways this clay can be used: mixed with water and applied as a mask, added to bathwater, diluted with water and drank, or even as a natural baby powder alternative.
We all come into contact with numerous toxins every day. With pollution, chemicals, and heavily-processed foods as the norm, it’s easy to understand why detoxing is such a big trend. Bentonite clay works by binding to toxins, bacteria, and heavy metals and thus removing them from the skin and body. They clay has a natural negative charge, so positively charged metal toxins like lead, mercury, cadmium, and benzene are attracted to it and get pulled out of your system. It has also been known to fight E.Coli, bacteria that causes Staph infection, and bind to the stomach flu virus (although this has only been observed in cows, it is believed to have the same implications in humans).
But is it really safe to eat clay? Some people think so. Bentonite clay includes a lot of good minerals, like calcium, iron, sodium, and magnesium, so some individuals choose to take it as they would a regular supplement. In addition, it flushes the digestive tract of metals and bacteria. Others disagree, saying that the body is equipped to filter itself. HuffPost blogger and founding director of the Prevention Research Centre at Yale, Dr. Katz states that: “Removing metal from the body is not necessarily good—iron, for example, is a metal and essential to health. So, there could conceivably be benefits, but there could certainly be harms…” Consuming clay has been known to cause nausea, constipation, and bloating, especially the first time it’s used. The clay expands when in contact with fluid and can block up the intestines. If you are going to consume Bentonite clay, start with a small amount and see how you feel. Everyone’s body is different and it can take time to know what works best for you.
All things considered it seems that Bentonite clay is best used externally. When used as a mask or bath it pulls toxins from the skin and pores, leaving the skin rejuvenated. It can decrease the size of your pores, help with discolouration, and even treat poison ivy and skin infections. Using clay on the skin typically has no side effects, but those with metal allergies may react to some minerals in the clay, so be sure to do a patch test first, and get your clay from a trustworthy source.
With so many natural remedies and beauty treatments becoming mainstream, it’s a good idea to do your research and learn what’s right for you. Although its still a little murky whether Bentonite clay is beneficial to consume or not, there is no denying the wonderful and healing effects it can have on your skin.
By Grace Mahaffy