If you’d like to spend a few minutes creating a clean, tight and “oh so lovely” complexion, this DIY facial mask is one I love and apply a few times per week. But first, as always, there’s a back story … I enjoy visiting my local urban gardens as I meet interesting people and learn new methods of working with plant medicine. I also love being in gardens because they’re quiet, offering the grace to attune one to the subtleties of the natural world (and those who tend it). Perhaps my favorite local garden is the Haitian Community Garden tended by Prevnar, who came to Miami after Haiti’s earthquake and transformed an abandoned lot into a tropical garden brimming with life. It was here that I met Diego and the healing clay of his country. Within seconds of meeting Diego he said “I can fix that problem” (“that problem” being my face, recovering from numerous interventions for pre-cancerous conditions) and upon meeting my face was red, swollen, bandaged and I was feeling “oh Lord, have mercy”. Diego said “come out to my van I want to show you something”. I turned to Prevnar who smiled and nodded and knowing Prevnar approved and had my back, out to the van I went (which resembled an herbal pharmacy + bush doctor’s office on wheels). Of course I was game. Although Diego tried to sway me with his various “cure-all” (I declined) he then revealed small boulders of Haitian clay and instructed me in its various uses (some of which I won’t detail) and as we dabbled over size and cost, I soon left with a small boulder of his beautiful clay. Although I’m drawn to clay of different countries and experiment with their healing abilities, after the first application of Diego’s clay I knew it was outstanding. Diego’s clay is the only clay I’ve ever worked with that requires a hammer, strong arm and many whacks to break it up (which I’m assuming is due to its high mineral content). Skin loves minerals. After hammering and working with Diego’s clay I settled on a simple recipe that works beautifully + all ingredients are extremely beneficial. Although you can switch around the following ingredients I do recommend using Aloe and Swedish Bitters with the clay of your choice (Rhassoul Clay is excellent). If supporting ingredients aren’t available use Honey, an infused herbal blend or what’s readily available in your kitchen or garden. Note:
perhaps at some time I may be able to offer Diego’s clay (if I find him again) and if I do, you really want this clay in your medicine and beauty chest. I’ll keep newsletter subscribers posted.
1/ounce Clay + 1/ounce Aloe (I like fresh leaf) + 2/tsp. Swedish Bitters + water as needed
Apply the mask to a freshly cleansed face (pores open) and leave on for approximately 15 minutes. To remove, moisten fingers with hot water and instead of immediately rinsing off, massage the mask into your complexion and then rinse off, compress your face with a hot washcloth and follow with a toner and moisturizer
A side note on Swedish Bitters:
being of German heritage I have a kinship with German herbalists and always reach for their books when researching herbal interventions. I don’t say this to be prideful; Germany has produced some of the finest herbalists known throughout the world and the one I particularly admire and who has shaped my understanding is Maria Treben (often referred to as “the grandmother of herbalism”). In Ms. Treben’s book “Health from God’s Garden” Swedish Bitters is noted as an intervention for almost every ailment and may be applied topically or ingested. I use it for facial care, take a teaspoon daily, and also apply to wounds that are slow to heal (“bitter” is an ally for the liver and blood). I have been using Swedish Bitters for many years and the only brand I recommend (found in most Health food stores) is Natures Works (the founder, an herbalist, was a student of Ms. Treben). As a final note to Miami locals
: I also have a kinship with the vans (store fronts) in Little Haiti that park along the N.E. 2nd
Avenue corridor. Besides the healing clay aforementioned, I’ve purchased beautiful Linen skirts and dresses, baskets, fresh fruit and produce and always receive smiles and kindness with each purchase. Although I’ve been privileged to not run my business from the back of a van, one may never know what beauty lives in the back of someone’s van unless we stop to say “good morning”. I trust the encounters will please you.
Warm regards and happy facial masks! Elise