THE HISTORY OF CLAY
Minerals are the main source of life on our planet and are imperative to our survival. They are necessary for all processes in the body, including the assimilation of vitamins, fats, proteins and carbs as well as biochemical functions that occur. Minerals help with everything from muscle contractions to the production of hormones. A natural source of all the minerals used and consumed by humans, for a variety of purposes, is clay.
Dating back to the prehistoric era, the earliest humans used clay to treat minor ailments such as food poisoning, aches and pains, infections and mineral deficiencies. They also used clay for spa and beauty treatments. There are also indications that early humans used ochres mixed with water and different types of mud to cure wounds, to soothe irritations and as a method of skin cleaning. This might be due to their mimicking animals, many of which instinctively use minerals for such purposes.
Throughout ancient history, clay has been used topically for soothing the skin, as well as internally for gastrointestinal issues. Aristotle made the first reference to the deliberate eating of clay, earth, or soil by humans for therapeutic purposes. Later Marco Polo described how on his travels he saw Muslim pilgrims cure fevers by ingesting ‘pink earth’. This practice is still followed in certain countries and communities for therapeutic purposes, or even to relieve famine.
Still today, in societies that have not lost touch with nature, clays are used for preventative care, remedies, and minerals. American Indians and African tribes use clays for their ceremonial healing procedures. Several native cultures including those in the Andes, Central Africa and Australia who consumed clays in various ways. Many would carry balls of dried clay in their bags and dissolve a small amount of the clay in water to drink with meals, to prevent poisoning from any toxins present.
What Exactly is Clay?
Clays are soft mineral substances, a product of weathered volcanic ash. Clay is formed as a result of volcanic activity subjected to environmental influences (physical and chemical) over a period of time. Clays differ in structure and composition depending upon the source. Just like there are no two identical fingerprints, it is impossible to find two identical clays. They come from different sources, each source with its own unique mineral compositions.
Each clay type has its own beneficial uses, dependent upon its origin, chemical composition and properties. Clay contains some antibacterial properties as well. Minute particles envelope bacteria and deprive it of nutrition and oxygen. This property makes clay a natural antibacterial agent.
‘With the development of synthetic drugs, clay has fallen into oblivion, but interest in it has been rising again recently right across the world’
Modern Uses for Clay
Clays have a well deserved place in health and beauty routines. Widely used in spas, clay slurries are prepared by mixing with water (geotherapy) and then matured (pelotherapy). In geotherapy and pelotherapy the application form can be face masks, clay baths and so on, depending on the body area to be treated, and the temperature of the clay can be either hot or cold. Clay baths are used in spas when the clay is applied by submerging part of the body (bathing the arms, hands, or feet) or the whole body in a bowl or bath filled with a mixture of clay and water.
The clay mineral resource owned by New Zealand Glacial Clay is located in the South Island of New Zealand. This unique deposit was formed over three million years ago through the combination of volcanic ash from the Banks Peninsula being deposited into a fresh water glacial lake at the foothills of the Southern Alps.
Only during recent testing has the clay been identified as a mineral rich green Nontronite healing clay which is a subclass of the smectite clay group and is very rare. The deposit is extremely remote allowing it to remain pure, consistent and unaltered. Nothing is added (organic and chemical free) in the extraction and processing of the resource.
The overall clay resource consists of several millions of tonnes and averages about 60 metres deep. Other clay deposits around the world are typically between 1m to 3m thick, with the top third usually contaminated with sand which makes it inconsistent and difficult to ensure purity.
At New Zealand Glacial Clay we recognize that sustainable business practices are fundamental to our future. We are respectful in the knowledge that our deposit of precious Nontronite clay is a finite reserve and we endeavor to process it in such a way that maximizes the potential of the resource whilst maintaining care for the environment and ensuring high sustainability standards and policies.
‘Removed without compromising our environmental and social responsibility’
Nontronite first got its name from a small French village called Nontron where it was first used in the beauty industry in the 1800’s as a rich green healing clay. It was highly prized at the time for its high levels of silica and powerful detoxification characteristics.
What is Green Clay?
Green clay is a type of therapeutic clay. More specifically, it’s referred to in history as ‘Mother Natures Powdered Gold’. The colour of the clay comes from its combination of iron oxides and decomposed matter, typically algae or chlorophyll. The more vibrant the green, the more valuable the clay is considered to be.
Green clay is well known in the natural skincare industry as they are rich with minerals. It is soft, smooth, pliable and creamy when used in cosmetic formulations. It has significant quantities of mineral salts and natural oligo-elements (minerals present in the body). The unique properties of this clay make it ideal as a natural anti-ageing agent.
In addition to the components that give green clay it’s colouring, the clay contains plenty of other trace minerals that have healing benefits such as Magnesium, Potassium, Calcium and Silica.
Why is Nontronite Special?
Our Nontronite clay is internationally unique green healing clay and there is no commercially prepared mineral that is comparable. This is a premium cosmetic product ingredient.
Five of the minerals unique selling points are:
- 100% natural product
- Very high CEC
- pH neutral
‘Natural ingredients sourced from NZ’
Our clay resource is the only commercially available Nontronite in the world. As far as we have been able to research it is the only identifiable freshwater glacial clay so it’s mineralogy, neutral pH, properties and characteristics are very unique and rare.
The clay is a 100% natural product and free from chemical processing. From being extracted from the ground to the finished dried powder form, it is processed by drying and milled down to 45 microns. Due to the size of the resource the clay purity sits at 91% which is exceptionally high, so its consistency is well proven.
It contains an abundance of iron, which gives it its green colour. This green colour is due to the content of ferrous iron, which is more reactive than ferric iron which are found in red clays. Green clay is therefore considered younger and more active from an anthroposophical point of view. When in contact with the skin, it evokes a pleasant feeling of physical and mental well-being.
In addition to many other minerals and trace elements it also has a high Silica content which promotes the formation of collagen in the skin. It can absorb toxins, radiation and free radicals and has many beneficial cosmetic effects.
Nontronite has a naturally high negative chemical charge that creates an electrical attraction to bind to the positive charge in chemicals and toxins in the skin. This bond removes and absorbs harmful chemicals and toxins through its ability to stimulate a deficiency or absorb an excess of toxins.
This natural charge is called the Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC) and is measured at over 80Meq/100g. Amongst competing products this is very high, with Montmorillonite clay (calcium bentonite) generally ranging from 60-70Meq/100g, Illite clay between 25-40Meq/100g and Kaolin clay between 3-15Meq/100g.
In a cosmetic application this high CEC means greater detoxification can be achieved, and/or less material can be used to achieve similar detoxification levels. This is a key reason why our formulated skincare products such as our clay face masque are so effective and powerful whilst still being gentle on any skin type.
Natural & chemical free products are for radiant health and glowing skin. Our clay face masque contains natures purest ingredients such as our Nontronite plus natural native NZ plant extracts and essential oils.
‘Nontronite as a ingredient elevates the performance, efficacy and sensorial profile of any cosmetic product to the next level’
BENEFITS Of CLAY
Green clay is very rich in antioxidants which help fight free radical damage within the skin. These can be produced by your own body as a by-product of your metabolism and what you eat or consume, as part of the natural ageing process and more importantly with gradual exposure to the environmental elements such as air pollution and UV damage.
Our green Nontronite clay can help the exfoliation process ridding problematic skin of dead skin cells. If your skin doesn’t naturally exfoliate it needs encouragement otherwise it can create the appearance of uneven tone and texture and cause blockages within the skin. Green clay is a fabulous detoxifying agent, helping to draw out impurities within the skin such as the over production of sebum which causes acne and unsightly blackheads. The minerals in green clay help to heal blemished skin quickly without leaving marks and/or scars.
Green clay has firming properties that help to stimulate circulation; good circulation promotes lymphatic drainage, which in turn helps those tired under eye bags. As mentioned above the exfoliating qualities of green clay create a brighter more youthful looking skin helping those with uneven skin tone and texture, such as sun damaged or hormonal pigmented skin.
Nontronite has a naturally negative electrical charge that will attach to positively charged toxins topically on the skin. This can assist in the elimination of any build-up in the pores such as acne-building bacteria. It can also help diminish signs of fine lines, wrinkles and capillaries near the epidermal surface whilst stimulating collagen and strengthening the skin’s elasticity. Our clay will repair, revitalize and regenerate your skin like no other natural product, leaving your skin feeling soft and more youthful.
Due to the nano particle size of the clay, it deeply penetrates the pores of your skin to remove bacteria, excess oil and deliver rejuvenating minerals below the dermis. The abundance of silica and other minerals within our clay are safe and beneficial for all skin types helping to improve collagen production, skin elasticity and reduce inflammation. When used regularly skin becomes brighter, clearer and experiences better moisture retention.
When used as a bath product, Nontronite has the ability to extract excess hydrogen from your cells creating more room for oxygen, which will not only leave you feeling more energized, but will also contribute to accelerated recovery time from illness or physical activity. Positively charged toxins and bacteria are attracted to the negative ion charge of our clay which can help with deep cleansing, detoxification, rejuvenation and revitalization leading to hydration and cell regeneration.
‘Treasure what nature provides and you will benefit’
What are the benefits of Nontronite in a face mask?
- Helps to draw out impurities within the skin without stripping its protective layer
- Rebalances the skin and enhances its health
- Exfoliates dead skin cells
- Tones and firms the skin
- Stimulates circulation
- Helps to heal blemishes
- Purifies and regenerates creating radiant skin
- Has significant cleansing effects for oily skin with acne and inflammatory pimples
- Regulates the activity of the sebaceous glands in oily skin
- Is suitable for the treatment of rosacea
- Stimulate cell renewal and collagen production
- Help prevent premature aging
- Acts against free radicals
The above claims result from widely understood scientific knowledge of clay used in face masks and in particular each mineral that is present in each differing clay. The widely scientific consensus is that clay masks perform two primary functions, detoxification and mineralization. For mineralization, this relates to the specific minerals in the clay and the benefits of each rather than combined.
The minerals chemical makeup particularly in relation to its Iron content is unique. Iron as a mineral is vitally important to skin health. Its use can promote red blood cell production, stimulate cell renewal and collagen production, improve complexion and even out skin tone and dramatically reduce the visibility of scars and stretch marks.
‘Protecting, Revitalising, Enhancing skin of all types’
GREEN CLAY SCIENCE
‘Modern Science working with Traditional Knowledge’
Clay is a priceless gift of nature. It nourishes life, protects it and slows down ageing. The clay absorbs the skin impurities, the free radicals, cleans us and lightens us. The use of green clay for our body and for our whole self is like a sort of meditation.
The skin is a threshold through which any product we use can penetrate our body. It is for this reason that skincare, cosmetics and personal care products need to be, first and foremost, natural, clean and healthy.
Green clay carries out a triple action on the three layers of the skin:
- It acts on the epidermis, thanks to the action of silica
- It acts on the derma, thanks to the action of aluminium
- It acts on the hypoderm, thanks to the action of calcium
Clay has been used by indigenous communities as a natural first aid remedy for common ailments. For generations, people have relied on what they can use from the earth to stay well. However, over the years we have lost touch with the wisdom and remedies of previous generations and turned to man made products and synthetic treatments. Clay has its own anti-bacterial properties and the ability to draw out toxins from the body, whilst replenishing specific minerals.
Over the centuries people have also used it internally for digestive problems and detoxification of the body or for clay compresses for sore joints, fractures or non-healing wounds. Animals also instinctively look for it in nature. Clay has exceptional properties that allow it to bind harmful substances and microorganisms and contains a number of minerals and trace elements important for the body. Due to its composition and the quality of the iron present, green clay is considered to be the most effective of all clays.
Terms such as ‘Clean Beauty’ or ‘Eco Beauty’ and now commonly used in the skincare industry. These seem to be the ‘buzz’ words circulating at the moment. These terms mean that if you choose to use natural organic products you are making the choice to use safe, nourishing products to enrich your body, mind, and life so that you can live a happy healthy life with the confidence that you are considering nature and our planet.
Not only does cleansing your skin with green clay remove the dirt and grime from the environmental elements and stresses of the day or perhaps the makeup you applied at 6am that morning, it also helps to boost hydration. It will not strip away the natural oils found in your skin, and it will help maintain a healthy moisture level without the skin feeling too oily or too dry.
Regular facial cleansing is an important factor in helping the skin maintain a proper pH level enabling sufficient water and product retention for proper skin hydration. If we don’t use the right cleanser the rest of the products we apply may not work to the best of their ability, compromising product absorption and penetration to the deeper dermal layers of the skin.
A lot of cleansers found in supermarkets and pharmacies contain harsh chemical ingredients such as sodium lauryl sulphate. The highest risk of using products with SLS and SLES for example is irritation. This irritation can cause problems with your eyes, skin, mouth, and even your lungs. For people with sensitive skin, sulphates may also clog pores and cause acne. This is just one ingredient of many that can be causing your body more harm than good.
‘Replace synthetic ingredients for natural alternatives in your skincare products’
Love Mother Earth.
Love Mother Earth.
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