Take your face mask formulation skills to the next level by formulating creamy, smooth face masks that are ready to apply. These are what we call emulsion-based clay face masks; they have a similar base formula to a cream with all the added benefits of clay. These are truly professional standard face masks and an advanced formula type. Keep reading to learn more about making and formulating your own!

You may have made a face mask before by mixing clays and other dry, powdered ingredients, then adding water to the product just before you apply it. These are wonderful for beginners as they are easy to make and don’t require preservatives. Today we want to introduce you to a more advanced type of mask, one we know you’ll love.

What are emulsion-based clay face masks?

Emulsion-based clay face masks are formulated as elegant ready-to-use emulsions that can be used as multifunctional cleansers, masks and exfoliators. This type of mask is what you’ll typically find being sold by high-end brands and used in spas. Now you can formulate your own too!

In addition to clay, emulsion-based clay face masks can contain a range of water soluble extracts and actives including humectants, AHAs, salicylic acid, vitamins and plant extracts, as well as a range of oil soluble ingredients such as plant oils, butters, waxes and esters.

In this article, we compare emulsion-based clay face masks and powdered clay faces masks. We discuss key ingredients included in natural emulsion-based hydrating face masks. Finally, we describe how you can make your own natural emulsion-based homemade clay face masks that can really make a difference to your skin. 

How to Make Your Own Natural Emulsion-based Clay Face Masks Skincare Formulation

The key ingredient in all types of natural face mask

The key ingredient in natural clay face masks, whether that be powdered or emulsion-based, is clay. Clay is renowned for its cleansing and skin purifying properties as a result of its high absorbency. When applied on the skin, the clays absorb high amounts of excess sebum which reduces shine and minimizes the appearance of pores.

For a more gentle or varied clay mask, other powders can also be used such as starches, arrowroot powder or charcoal.

Charcoal can absorb large amounts of oil from the skin’s surface and as it is a slightly larger particle it can gently exfoliate, removing surface layers of dead skin cell buildup. The combination of reduced oil and a smoother, newer skin surface leads to the reduced appearance of pores as well as smoother, more radiant, non-greasy skin.

Why are natural emulsion-based clay face masks better than powdered clay masks?

Powdered clay masks are amazing products. They can benefit all different skin types and can make the user feel like they are having a spa-like treatment at home. Homemade face masks are 100% natural and they don’t include any preservatives as they don’t contain water.

You can find out more about formulating natural clay-based face masks by selecting our online Certificate in Natural Face Mask Formulation course. Here you’ll learn how to make six different clay-based face mask products (along with other emulsion-based face masks of course), including a Soothing Face Mask with Marshmallow and Vitamin C and a Milky Matcha Bubble Tea Face Mask.

Where natural emulsion-based clay face masks are better than clay masks is in their ability to include water and oil soluble ingredients, including potent and revitalizing actives.

Emollients, like shea butter, chia seed oil and avocado oil, help nourish and soften skin. Humectants, such as glycerin and hyaluronic acid, can help increase skin hydration and protect the product from drying out.

This means that emulsion-based face masks can actually be hydrating and nourishing products and not as drying to the skin as powdered face masks can be.

How to Make Your Own Natural Emulsion-based Clay Face Masks Skincare Formulation

Active ingredients, such as white willow bark extract and niacinamide, help exfoliate and brighten the skin. They also provide antioxidant benefits, showing how versatile and wide-ranging this type of product is. 

Essential oils can also be added to provide a fragrance, as well as surfactants to aid rinsability and cleansing of your natural face masks.

Being able to add a wide range of active and functional ingredients gives emulsion-based face mask a real edge over the dry, powdered variety. It means they can be designed to provide a huge range of skin benefits and provide an enjoyable sensorial experience too.

Preserving your natural emulsion-based clay face masks

Cosmetic products that contain water are a perfect breeding ground for microorganisms which is why, as you know, they must contain preservatives.

Clay-based products containing water can be especially difficult to stabilize and preserve. This is largely due to the clay itself which presents a microbiological risk in two ways.

Clay is usually sourced through mining, so there is a higher chance of contamination due to the nature of this process. Also, the structure of clay (which takes the form of a huge number of small particles) can cause preservatives to absorb onto the surface of the particles and not in the actual aqueous phase. This reduces the efficacy the preservative.

This means a broad-spectrum preservative system is needed in a natural, emulsion-based, clay face mask. This usually requires using a broad-spectrum preservative blend, preservative booster and cheating agent. The good news is you can create a natural broad-spectrum preservative system using COSMOS approved preservatives.

How do I ensure face masks containing both clay and water are safe?

How to Make Your Own Natural Emulsion-based Clay Face Masks Skincare Formulation

The good news is that you can make your own natural emulsion-based clay face masks and ensure they are safe to use by following our formulations in our online Certificate in Natural Face Mask Formulation course.

In this class, we help you create full, natural broad-spectrum preservative systems so that you feel confident in preserving your natural face masks products, which can sometimes be intimidating to some at-home formulators.

We take you behind the scenes of our formulation process to show you how our cosmetic scientists developed the best preservative systems so that you can protect your face masks the correct, scientific way. We share the results of Preservative Efficacy Testing that prove the formulas are properly preserved. 

The class also shows you the function of the different types of ingredients that can be used in natural emulsion-based clay face masks, as well as the weight for weight percentage (w/w%) for accuracy in formulating. You can be sure you will learn the best ingredients to use for different skin types and concerns.

Then comes the fun part: you get to make three different advanced, natural emulsion-based clay face masks by following our formulations, then you can move on to formulating your own!  

Pink Clay and Pomegranate Clarifying Cleanser and Mask is a thick, creamy emulsion that can be used as a cleanser or a mask. It cleanses the skin of dirt and impurities, absorbs surface oils and gently exfoliates for smooth, glowing (not greasy) skin.

The Orange and Almond 3-in-1 Exfoliator, Cleanser and Mask has a rich emulsion texture with small exfoliating particles that produce a light foam when rinsed away. It cleanses, purifies and exfoliates the skin that combats dull or rough skin to reveal a smoother, brighter skin surface. 

If you need to control shine, minimize pores and gently exfoliate dead skin cells to decongest skin, leaving it clearer, our thick, black Purifying Charcoal Cleanser and Mask will be your go-to natural emulsion-based face mask.

If you are not a student of the Certificate in Natural Face Mask Formulation, you can find out more information here.

Alternatively, this course is also found inside our Natural Cosmetic Formulation Club. So if you are already a Club Member and you’re ready to add emulsion-based clay face masks to your repertoire, then simply log in, exchange your credits for the class and get started today!

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Diploma in Natural Skincare Formulation.