Recently, I came across a skincare brand, Brown and Coconut. Impressed by the brand name and the relatable story of the founders Letisha & Zeena Brown, I started checking all their products.
Needless to say, I was pretty impressed with their skincare line. What caught my attention was their Kale mask for clarifying, healing and toning the skin. Then and there, I decided to do a spin-off mask of the same till I get my hands on the original.
Best part of this entire story is that it’s working for my otherwise stubborn skin. So here we go making our own – Blemish Healing, Skin Brightening Face Mask.
Brown and Coconut’s Kale Mask:
Ingredients of Brown and Coconut’s Kale Mask:
Montmorillonite (French Green Clay), Brassica Oleracea (Kale), Aloysia Citriodora (Lemon Verbena) Powder, Lonicera Japonica (Honeysuckle) Flowers, Azadirachta Indica (Neem Leaf) Powder, Thymus Vulgaris (Thyme Leaf)
Here, I believe Honeysuckle flowers were added for the sake of fragrance.
And even Lemon verbena powder was used for its aromatic scent. However, the Brown and Coconut site says Lemon verbena can diminish puffiness while clearing and toning the skin. Nevertheless, I couldn’t find enough literature supporting the claim.
So, I gave these two a miss in my spin-off version.
My Spin-off Version- Blemish healing, Skin Brightening Face Mask:
The cornerstone of this mask- French Green Clay
French Green Clay differs from Bentonite clay in having higher amounts of iron oxides along with decomposed kelp seaweed.
Combination of decomposed plant material with iron oxides gives the clay a beautiful pleasant green color with added skin soothing properties.
Not to mentions its mineral content: Montmorillonite, as well as dolomite, magnesium, calcium, potassium, manganese, phosphorus, zinc, aluminum, silicon, copper, selenium, and cobalt.
The minerals highlighted in bold hold a prime place in skin and hair care. Also, the mineral content makes it perfect clay for a mineral bath relieving stress and insomnia.
For mineral bath all you have to do is prepare a mix of clay and sea salts then add it to your hot bath. Soak in bath for 15-20 minutes.
How does French Green Clay work for skin concerns?
It raises your skin’s activity by stimulating it. As a matter of fact, you can feel this effect. You’ll feel your skin has become warmer after you rinse off the clay.
This skin stimulation by French green Clay encourages the natural exfoliation of skin.
Furthermore, the chemical structure of clay is such that it can hold large amounts of water. Therefore, the drying of clay shrinks the enlarged pores and helps reduce excess oil aka sebum production.
Where to buy French Green Clay:
I bought mine from a brand named Vedenic Ayurveda. You can check here
Purple Cabbage also known as Red Cabbage: Brassica oleracea
In my version of mask, I substituted Kale with its closest relative, purple cabbage😇.
Both Kale and Purple Cabbage have more or less same vitamin content. So, I didn’t feel the need to look for Kale which by the way is difficult to find in Indian markets.
The only probable difference could be the final color of the mask. Using kale will enhance the beautiful rich green color of French green Clay.
Besides, Purple Cabbage is not only rich source of Vitamin A but also Vitamin C which helps in healing blemishes and acne scars. Therefore, even if you skip your face masks routine don’t forget to have raw Purple Cabbage as salad.
I planned this mask last month itself but alas, the cabbage, I sun dried got soaked under unexpected rain. I decided to leave this and work on other project but mom chided me for being so dramatic 😛
Lesson learned: Stop complaining about things which are not under your control and start again without wasting time over spilled milk
Anyways, I started again and surprisingly even the weather turned hot and dry and my herbs dried within no time.
Azadirachta Indica (Neem Leaf) Powder:
Neem leaf, flowers, barks every part of this tree has one or other anti bacterial, anti protozoa, anti viral, anti-inflammatory properties.
In this Blemish healing mask, the Neem leaf powder serves to reduce skin redness due to active acne as well as treats active acne.
In India you’ll find Neem and its products throughout the year. But, if you wish to make your own Neem leaf powder, the best season to collect leaves is summer.
I collected Neem leaves, sundried and powdered them in summer itself. So, the powder came handy for making this mask.
But, if you wish to buy you’ll find innumerable sellers. One of the best: here
Thymus Vulgaris – Thyme leaf Powder:
Thyme serves to act as anti-oxidant. It even helps to reverse the sun damaged skin.
You can make your own or place an order from Amazon. Check here
Blemish Healing, Skin Brightening Face Mask – Works for Acne, Open pores and Blackheads
Blemishes, acne scars, large pores and black heads all these skin problems needs a mask infused with ingredients that addresses each concern without any breakouts. Blemish Healing Mask inspired from Brown and Coconut's Kale mask has goodness of all the essential ingredients.
- 1 tbsp French Green Clay
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp Purple Cabbage powder
- 1/2 tsp Neem leaf powder
- 1/4 tsp Thyme leaf powder
French Green Clay has a pH of 7.75. Our skin has a pH in the range of 4.5 to 5.5. When you use alkaline products either it be masks, soaps or non-pH balanced face washes the skin's acid mantle disrupts. So, you need to add an acidic substance such as lemon or apple cider vinegar to neutralize and bring the pH to 5. In my mask I have used lemon. Lemon juice has a pH of 2 and therefore you don't require more than 1 tsp for neutralizing 1 tbsp of French Green Clay.
To know more on balancing skin pH - Why maintain your Skin pH – The often Neglected part in Skin Care (Unravel Few Amazing Insights)
In general, you'll notice bubbles when acid reacts with alkali. However, with French Green clay you'll observe slight sizzling. And with Bentonite and Aztech Indian healing clays, which are more basic the bubbles formed are more prominent.
Then, add other ingredients one after one and thoroughly mix them up.
Because, the clay is wet you'll get a lumpy mix. So sun dry it for a free flowing powder. You can even store it after sun drying for later use.
While using add sufficient water depending on the consistency you prefer.
How to use this mask for black heads:
Prior to using this mask, use a Salicylic acid containing toner or Stridex pads such as check here
Then after 20-30 minutes apply the mask, Let it dry and then wipe off the mask with a wash cloth. Then rinse with water.
Don’t forget to apply your moisturizer after pat drying your face.
Reminders for sensitive skin: (Applies even to all skin types)
As, I mentioned above the chemical structure of Montmorillonite is such that it can hold great amounts of water. So when you leave the mask to dry on your skin, the moisture from your skin too is lost along with the water adsorbed by the clay.
You get the tight feeling of skin after washing your face. Therefore, don’t wait till the mask fully dries. You can wipe it off when it is 65-70% dry.
If you feel excessive tingling rinse if off immediately.
Don’t follow up with lemon juice or any other harsh “natural ingredients” for astringent effect. The mask itself is enough for toning your skin. All you need is to moisturize your skin.
Before you leave, would you like to try a skin quiz to understand your skin better?👇
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Based on your Quiz results you will be directed to the post that will be of help to you.
Listen to your skin it has lots to say to you. This quiz will take you one step closer in knowing your skin.
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Do you know why new born babies have a very sensitive skin?
It is because the “acid mantle” of their skin hasn’t developed yet. It takes some time for their skin’s acid mantle to develop.
Until then their skin is liable to dryness, irritation and rashes.
Normally, our skin has slightly acidic pH of 4.5 to 5.5 known as acid mantle whereas our body’s interior environment is alkaline, having a pH of 7.4.
This pH gradient provides an amazing defense system against viruses and pathogens.
However, using Soaps and Cleansers which are not pH specific disrupts this natural acid mantle. Read on to know how and why maintain your skin pH
Our Wrong Priorities While Choosing Facial Cleansers:
You may be using the best available cleanser or an aesthetically beautiful looking soap promising you the goodness of Aloe-vera, the anti-oxidant rich Chamomile and Green tea extracts, the soothing lavender and many more botanicals, the names of which you have never heard.
Yet, you don’t get that yippee feeling on looking at your bare face in the mirror.
Truth to be told, the botanical extracts in your cleansers gets rinsed down the drain, giving little to nothing benefit to your skin.
Funnily, most of the skincare brands cash on the added botanicals in their cleansers.
So, what matters in a Cleanser?
You may be using a certain facial foam/cleanser/soap because it claims mildness and has the goodness of all the popular trending oils- Olive, Jojoba, Sunflower seed, Tea tree etc..,
No doubt, oils in cleansers have an added advantage compared to botanical extracts.
They reduce the drying effect of cleansing agents aka surfactants present in your cleanser.
In spite of that, in reducing your skin concerns the pH of the cleanser takes the precedence.
Even Cleansers get rinsed with water then how does their pHs affect skin?
When Cleansers and Soaps high in pH come in contact with the skin they cause swelling of skin cells, something like hyper hydration of cells.
This swelling of cells facilitates entry of cleansing agents which upon their entry into skin barrier act as irritants.
Once you are done rinsing the hyper hydrated cells lose moisture pretty quickly. Does this ring a bell for the skin tightness after using certain cleansers and soaps?
Additionally, the cleansing agents aka surfactant molecules now attached to the skin cells prevent restoration of moisture.
For your skin to regain its original moisture it takes around 40 minutes.
Most importantly, even your skin pH changes to the pH of your cleanser. It takes from 20mins to 2 hours for the skin pH to get back to the normal pH of 4.5-5.5.
Besides, if hard water (pH 6.5-8.5) is used then skin may take even longer up to 6 hours to reset to its normal pH.
What could go wrong during brief periods of increased Skin pH?
Fat waxes aka Ceramides form cement like structure between the outer layers of the cells of skin.
They are important for maintaining the integrity and structure of skin barrier.
Frequent increase in skin’s pH reduces the Ceramide content of the skin. Not-so-Surprisingly, skin liable to acne and allergies has lesser amount of Ceramides.
Also, the irritants entering during the brief period of elevated skin pH impair the natural exfoliation process of skin that reflects by dry and dull textured skin. Hence, this is one of the main reasons why maintain your skin pH.
Correlation between skin pH and a certain skin type – Oily and Acne prone.
For better understanding you can refer to my short instagram post on skin types.
It goes without saying Oily skin has over-active oil producing glands, the Sebaceous glands.
The excess oil produced in Oily-sensitive skin type has a lot of hormonal play at the background with oil glands frequently activated by the circulating free hormones.
This alters even the fatty acids produced by the oil glands thereby increasing the skin pH. Furthermore, in women with PCOS the circulating higher levels of male hormones off sets skin’s pH balance.
The internal factors in oily-sensitive skin push the skin’s pH towards alkaline scale.
Additionally, when you use non-pH balanced cleansers or Soaps then these two factors offers a breeding ground for the acne causing bacteria Propionibacterium acnes.
This acne causing bacteria cannot thrive in a pH balanced skin. But, alterations in pH due to alkaline cleansers, soaps and hard water gives a friendly environment for Propionibacterium acnes.
So, now you know what you need to do to reduce the frequency of your acne breakouts. Just go and get your hands on a pH balanced cleanser. (pH 5.5) as well as install a shower head if your supplied with hard water.
Correlation between skin pH and Dry Skin Type:
Even if acne and oily skin are not your concerns, you should still care about your skin cleansers and maintain your skin pH.
This is because even dry skin and itchy skin was found to have higher than the normal range of pH.
Also, when the areas of skin affected with eczema, contact dermatitis, Athlete’s foot and Candida infections were tested even they had higher levels of pH.
What role does Cleanser of pH 5-5.5 has in addressing your Skin concerns?
Balances and controls the oil factories of your skin:
Tired of trying everything under the sun to control the oil? Well, most of the hacks or remedies you come across more or less focus on getting rid of oily skin.
You need to balance the oil production on your face not get rid of it. One of the perks of oily skin is that it combats premature aging of skin.
So to balance and control the oil slick on your face start using a pH balanced cleanser and also cut down on sugar.
Yes, diet factors are equally important in controlling oil. You can’t really expect external skincare solely to solve deep rooted problems.
And regarding pH balanced cleansers, from my own experience I can vouch that Sebamed pH 5.5 Cleanser is godsent gift for balancing oil on my face.
Helps in reducing pore size:
Enlarged pores are a result of excessive oil aka sebum pumped out of pores, causing the pores to stretch.
So, again it comes down to balancing your skin’s oil factories by maintaining your skin pH with pH balanced cleansers.
Greatly reduces the frequency of Acne breakouts:
Regular use of pH 5-5.5 cleansers lowers your skin pH as well as the Propionibacterium acnes count in your skin pores.
By the way do know that Propionibacterium acnes bacteria exist even in individuals with clear flawless skin. To know more and choose better treatment options for Adult acne read my post on
Besides, skin pH lowered to normal range of 4.5-5.5 aids in proper exfoliation of skin that prevents clogging of pores.
Restores anti-bacterial properties of your Sweat:
Sweat has an antimicrobial peptide known as Dermicidin. It has maximum activity when our skin’s pH is within the normal range.
Any deviation from the normal range reduces the activity of this natural antibiotic. Hence, a pH balanced cleanser boosts the natural defense system of our body.
Reduces the side effects observed with usage of topical anti-acne medications:
Benzoyl peroxide and Retinoids applied on acne prone areas often act as irritants as well as have drying, itching and peeling effects on skin.
These side effects are prominent in disturbed skin barriers. When some one says disturbed skin barrier, it means a skin that gets easily irritated.
Restore the integrity of your skin by using low pH products. Doing so benefits your anti-acne treatments. You may most likely continue using your anti acne topicals without discarding them.
Therefore, whether you use OTC acne medications or cosmetic Retinoid serums include pH 5.5 Cleansers in your daily skincare regime.
pH Balanced Cleansers are as good as tea tree-oil and you can even stop using tea-tree oil:
You may have tried countless DIY remedies with tea tree oil for acne spot treatment. Although it works I stay away from essential oils given their high potential to act as irritants.
As an alternative to spot treatment with strong essential oils, I cleanse specifically those spots on my face (not my entire face though).
Not to forget, dermatologists recommend limiting the number of face washes in 24 hours to 2 times.
My top picks for pH balanced Cleansers:
In my next post, I’ll give a detailed review of my top picks. But for now I am just going mention my top picks.
From Korean Brands:
As much as I obsess over maintaining skin pH, I have come to realize that just because a cleanser claims pH balanced doesn’t imply it works as expected😲. Click the below image to know how to choose a pH balanced cleanser:
Update: So, here’s the post-