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Anti-Acne Exfoliating Mask

I consider myself somewhat of an expert on acne development and treatment (apparently others thought so too, because I've had a gig writing about this very thing for several years now; see my About.com website for further explanation.)

So I'm embarrassed to say I let my own child's skin get out of hand.  Kind of like "the cobbler's children have no shoes" sort of thing.  I should have noticed my kid's skin breaking out before it got to be... breaking out.  Sure, I had him doing all the right stuff, like cleansing and the basics.  But still, no good improvement.

How about some nice, regular exfoliation to help keep those pores clear?  Yeah, that would be helpful.

Regular exfoliation is an absolute must when it comes to clearing acne.  But  here's where it gets tricky.  Most of us equate exfoliation with a scrub.  But a scrub is one of the WORST things you can do for your skin when you have acne.  They can increase irritation, open up scabs, and actually lead to more breakouts.

Instead, exfoliation should be done without much grit involved.  This is where alpha hydroxy and beta hydroxy acids come into play.  They help remove dead skin cells and other junk from the skin without the need of a gritty scrub.

This is one of my favorite exfoliating masks for acne.  The yogurt base adds lactic acid, an effective alpha hydroxy acid.  The clays are very drawing and cleansing, and good for reducing oil.  They also add exfoliating properties to the mask.  The baking soda helps soften blackheads and oil plugs so that they can more easily be expelled from the skin.

But the real special ingredient here is the white willow bark extract.  Like the stinging nettles, it's great for calming inflammation.  It contains salicylic acid, a beta hydroxy acid that is helpful in fighting breakouts by reducing the number of pore blockages.

I like to mix up a large portion of the dry ingredients to keep in a jar for when I need it.  You can mix it with water, herbal tea (like green tea, peppermint, or chamomile) or even with some red wine.  A bit of honey mixed in can be a special treat.

The key is to use this mask regularly; three times a week is a good number.  If you're consistent, you should notice an improvement in your skin after a few weeks.  (BUT -- if you're using a prescription acne treatment please ask your doctor before trying this mask.  Use with caution if you're already on a topical exfoliating medication like Retin-A, Acanya, etc. or if your skin is dry from acne treatments.  I wouldn't recommend it at all if you are using Accutane/isotretinoin.)

I'm mixing up a new batch just for the neglected kid in my household.  And a bit of extra for myself too.

Anti-Acne Exfoliating Mask
4 tablespoons yogurt powder
8 teaspoons yellow illite clay
4 teaspoons Moroccan rhassoul clay
2 teaspoons sea clay
2 teaspoons white willow bark extract
1 teaspoon stinging nettles powder
1 teaspoon fine grained rice bran
1 teaspoon baking soda



Add all ingredients together in a small bowl.  Mix well until well blended.  You can store this in a small jar with a lid, or even in a little bag, on your bathroom counter or cupboard.

To use: In a small bowl, mix 1 teaspoon mask with 1/2 teaspoon water (or other liquid).  Massage gently over the face.  Let set about 10 minutes.  Dampen the mask, then work off with a washcloth.  Rinse well.  Use 3 times a week for the best results.

Yield: about 30 uses

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