Sunning your vagina. Eating Clay. Using homemade toothpaste and deodorant. There is so much of Shailene Woodley’s famed beauty routine that seems eco-simple. But in practice? It can be hard as hell to manage. (Trust us, we’ve tried.) But damnit if she doesn’t look radiant all day, every day — so much so that her Big Little Lies makeup artist had to add dark circles under her eyes. Sigh.
So when we caught her on a new Instagram post, multi-masking while taking a mud bath with friends, our immediate response was, that’s so Shailene Woodley. She's glowing in the shot — even with mud caked to her face. And her caption, “bathe in mud. do it. DO it,” is equally convincing. Add in the fact that geothermal springs often are located in wonderfully far-flung locations (Santorini, Palau and Hell’s Gate Geothermal Park and Mud Bath Spa in New Zealand, which looks suspiciously similar to Woodley’s posted locale) and we’re as good as sold. But first, an important question: Does sulphurous mud really help cleanse and brighten skin?
We took the question to a few dermatologists, including S. Manjula Jegasothy, a Miami-based dermatologist and clinical associate professor of dermatology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. As it turns out, the concept isn’t so farfetched after all. In fact, the healing powers of sulphurous mud go way back: “Sulfur, as long as the user is not allergic to it, reduces redness and inflammation in all skin types,” she says, adding that minerals selenium and zinc offer the same benefits. Dr. Jeannette Graf, a New York-based dermatologist and author of Stop Aging, Start Living, offers further benefits: “Sulfur is great for skin in terms of treating acne and rosacea, and mud pulls the impurities out of the skin.”
For those of us who don’t have the time or cash to jet off to a magical geothermal reserve, there are less scenic, but more user-friendly options: The top three ingredients in Sunday Riley Saturn Sulfur Acne Treatment Mask are water, 10% sulfur concentration, and bentonite (a type of clay that pulls gunk from the skin), serving as a solid dupe for mother nature’s version. Sonya Dakar Volcano Mask uses volcanic ash and probiotics for a similar effect.
Though many mud and clay-based masks are formulated for oily or combination skin, dry types can get in on the goodness without stripping it, too. According to Dr. Raja Sivamani is a dermatologist and associate professor of clinical dermatology at the University of California, Davis who specializes in ayurvedic medicine: “Rhassoul clay is gentler on the skin than bentonite clay and can work better on those with drier skin.” Sustainable, vegan, and handcrafted Bask & Co. Clarity Rhassoul Red Clay Mask + Facial Blend uses this type of clay for that purpose.
For those who have funds to splurge, the £65 Omorovicza Ultramoor Mud Mask may be just the thing to replicate Woodley’s skin-brightening ritual without the airfare. It's made with mud and thermal water from a Hungarian bath site, which may be just as good as being in an actual mud bath, if not better — because what Woodley’s pics don’t show is how tricky and tedious rinsing mud from the crevices of the body can really be.