I thought we’d continue our Earl Grey theme today with this simple clay face mask that helps brighten the complexion and fade hyper-pigmentation left behind by healing acne. It’s made from just a few simple ingredients that you almost certainly already have, comes together in a flash, and is a rather pleasant way to pamper oneself in the midst of a stubbornly persistent second winter.
This mask is a bit of a twist on the popular bentonite clay + apple cider vinegar mask that’s commonly recommended to fade those irksome marks left behind by blemishes. On my skin those marks are red and definitely stick out on my pale complexion. I’m always on board anything I can do to encourage them to fade faster!
Anywho, I decided to adopt this riff on the classic into our Earl Grey theme, this time with the use of actual Earl Grey tea. The ingredient list on this one is super short and super crunchy, which I’m sure many of you will appreciate 🙂 It’s a single-use serving size, so if you want to mask with a buddy, double the recipe.
Our liquid is a simple blend of just-brewed Earl Grey tea and lemon juice. I loved how the hot tea warmed up the entire mask so it wasn’t cold for application, and the light bergamotty tea scent was lovely. Topical tea application is also said to be anti-inflammatory and may help reduce sebum production.
Lemon juice helps brighten the complexion in partnership with the bentonite clay, and helps counter the high pH (~9) of bentonite clay. Earl Grey tea is also often served with a bit of lemon, so I thought it also worked in nicely with our theme!
Bentonite clay is very unique in the world of cosmetic clays; it is far more absorbent than clays like kaolin or illite (French clays are typically illite). When hydrated, bentonite transforms into a really neat gel-like consistency, which is quite different from the more frosting-like pastes you’ll get from kaolin or illite. I find bentonite to be more absorbent on the skin than kaolin and illite, and after I mask with it any spots of hyper-pigmentation have noticeably faded by the following morning. Removing the mask also offers some physical exfoliation—do be gentle, though! Make sure you follow your masking up with your favourite facial lotion to help re-hydrate the skin.
Also, stay tuned for a bentonite-focussed interview with a clay expert that debunks quite a lot of common bentonite “facts”!
Earl Grey Face Mask
1 mug of freshly brewed, hot Earl Grey tea
5g | ~1 tsp fresh lemon juice
6g | 0.21oz bentonite clay
Kick things off by brewing yourself up a hot cup of Earl Grey tea. Before you add anything to it (if that’s how you like your tea), spoon out 10g/0.35oz (roughly 2 tsp) into a small dish. The rest of the tea is now yours for the drinking!
Add the lemon juice to the tea in the small dish, and then begin slowly whisking in the bentonite clay to form a paste. I used 6g, but don’t feel too tied to that measurement; stop adding clay when you’ve got a thick, creamy paste.
Leave the mixture to sit for 3–5 minutes, and stir again before applying to the face (I find leaving it to sit for a while helps the clumps to soften, so further whisking is more effective).
Once you’ve been thoroughly schmeared up like a bagel, leave the mask to dry for around twenty minutes (that’s a good time to drink that mug of tea!) before rinsing it off with a warm, wet washcloth. I like to do this in the shower so I can be sure I’m sending lots of water down the drain with the clay, reducing the risk of build up over time. Finish up with your favourite facial lotion.
Shelf Life & Storage
Because this mask is absolutely loaded with delicious bug food it must be made in single use batches and used immediately. No amount of preservatives will make it safe to store! This recipe makes enough for one mask.
I don’t recommend making any substitutions in this recipe. You could use a different brewed tea or just warm water if you don’t have Earl Grey, and you could use apple cider vinegar instead of the lemon juice, but in a recipe with only three ingredients and changes are large ones. Do not use a different clay—the basic nature of bentonite counters the acidity of the lemon juice, and bentonite’s unique gelling/absorption abilities are important to the ratios and the consistency of the final product.