I've Been Making a Volcanic Ash of Myself with These 4 Skin Treatments

It turns out an ingredient you may already use is actually 5,000-year-old volcano gunk.

I'm always excited to research and try out new ingredients, so when I noticed an uptick in volcanic ash as a star in various products, I couldn't resist. Like activated charcoal, volcanic ash is a potent purifying ingredient that can do wonders for clogged, oily, acne-prone skin.

Something I didn't know but found very interesting is that the volcanic ash you find in skincare products has been lying around for quite a while. For example, South Korea's dormant volcanic island, Jeju, hasn't erupted for about 5,000 years, but lots of aged ash is sourced from there.

"Rich in minerals, volcanic ash in the form of bentonite clay is valued in skincare for its ability to detoxify skin and act as a magnet, pulling impurities and toxins out of pores," notes Cathy Wang, who oversees content at Korean e-commerce site, Glow Recipe.

The word "bentonite" probably rang a bell for you, as it's found in ingredient lists far more often than volcanic ash. Bentonite clay, however, is volcanic ash. It's what's referred to as a "smectite absorbent," or a swelling clay that absorbs moisture more so than other types of clay. So not only is volcanic ash — AKA bentonite clay — a detoxifying ingredient, it has the ability to moisturize, as well.

I'm From Volcanic Mask contains 8.6% volcanic clay from Jeju Island. Out of the three masks I'm highlighting today, it feels the most absorbent. After applying, it dries within 15 minutes, and you can see little spots where oil has been soaked up from the pores. When you rinse, skin feels tight, but not uncomfortably so, and pores do look smaller.

I picked up this Baviphat Urban Dollkiss Pore Bye Volcano Pack from Beauteque, an e-commerce site that specializes in Korean masks. It smells the nicest out of the three masks, and is probably the most moisturizing. I recommend it for dry or combination skin types that want to treat acne but hydrate at the same time. It doesn't dry out on the skin like the I'm From mask. After using it, my skin feels very moisturized, but I don't get a huge sense of "detox" from it.

Peter Thomas Roth's Irish Moor Mud mask feels the most "volcano" to me, probably because the jar is loaded up with a pitch-black, ooey-gooey paste. I find it to be a middle ground between the I'm From and the Baviphat masks: moisturizing, but still very detoxifying. It doesn't dry out on the skin, either.

If you don't like that tight feeling but love feeling like a ton of gunk, dirt and oil have been pulled out from your skin, this is a good choice. In addition to volcanic ash, it contains activated charcoal, Irish Moor mud, and Hijiki seaweed.

I'm calling Origin's Warm Down Lava Scrub one of the coolest (or would that be warmest?) products I've used in a while. It smells like creamy mint, looks like cookies and cream, and it instantly heats up once it comes into contact with water. It contains pulverized volcanic ash to exfoliate and detoxify, essential oil to calm your senses, and the instant warmth (yes, it gets really warm!) helps relax your muscles.

  • Do any of these appeal to your senses?
  • Did you know that bentonite clay was volcanic ash?
  • What kind of face mask do you prefer?