Not many beauty ingredients begin with the letter Z, but zeolite does and it's definitely an A-lister when it comes to beauty. Never heard of it? We've got you covered.
What is it?
First formed more than 300 million years ago, zeolite is a mineral mostly made up of silica (the third most abundant trace element in the human body) and alumina tetrahedra. There are many natural variations, each one unique to its environment. Some formed when volcanic rocks and ash reacted with seawater; others are freshwater variations. In Australia, for example, zeolite is also known as clinoptilolite and is thought to be one of the oldest deposits of its kind in the world.
Why should I use it?
Despite so many of our best efforts, it's nearly impossible to live a totally and completely clean life. Toxins and pollutants find ways to sneak into our skin and bodies, so it's crucial to find a safe, natural way to detox them right back out again. That's where zeolite comes in.
Like so many other volcanic substances, zeolite is a master of detoxification. It has an extraordinary ability to absorb, hold, release, and exchange different chemicals, nutrients, toxins, and ions according to need in your body. Much like activated charcoal, it helps to draw out impurities in your skin and is even being studied as a way to reduce and stop the growth of skin cancer in dogs through topical application.
How does it work?
Zeolite is unique in that its honeycomb, microporous cellular structure is one of nature's few negatively charged minerals, which means it's able to attract positively charged contaminants. Inside these negatively charged honeycomb "cages," healthful minerals such as potassium can be found. Zeolite swaps its healthful, negatively charged minerals for any positively charged contaminants on or in your body. Basically, it takes away the bad stuff by replacing it with good stuff.
Since your body doesn't absorb the zeolite, the pollutants it sucks up are safely removed when you wash it off your skin!
What should I look for?
Now that you know why adding zeolite to your skin care routine is beneficial, there are a few things to keep in mind when looking for products. There are a lot of brands using zeolite in their masks and cleansers these days, but if you want to go the DIY route (see below), powdered zeolite is easy to find on sites like Amazon.
However, it's incredibly important that you're buying only high-quality, micronized zeolite (preferably clinoptilolite) that's been properly cleaned and is 100 percent pure. Zeolite is sourced from the earth and needs to be separated from other naturally occurring minerals that aren't so good for your health. You don't want commercial-grade zeolite, as it's probably not natural or pure and may contain unknown contaminants.
How do I use it?
There are a few ways to use this all-star ingredient topically for your skin:
- Mask: In a fine powder form, zeolite makes a wonderfully detoxifying mask. Mix 1 tablespoon of zeolite powder with 2 tablespoons of water to form a paste. Slather it on your face and leave it for up to an hour (I've found the longer the better). When you wash it off, be prepared for seriously soft skin and pores that are noticeably less noticeable! It'll do a deep cleanse on your pores and help heal any existing blemishes.
- Cleanser: Mix the same proportions as for the mask but wash off after about a minute so as not to dry out your skin with daily use. For something more moisturizing, try swapping the water with your favorite face oil. Follow with your favorite toner and moisturizer.
- Exfoliator: With its fine, sand-like texture, zeolite is a great gentle exfoliator. Place 1 tablespoon zeolite powder in the palm of your hand or a small bowl, and using a soft brush (a kabuki brush is ideal), gently work the powder into your skin in small, circular motions. Be careful around more delicate areas (eyes, etc.) and do not inhale the powder. Then, simply wash your face with warm water and a soft cloth, followed by a splash of cold water to reduce inflammation.
When trying any skin care substance for the first time, always do a patch test on your cheek or neck prior to use to test whether you're allergic.
There are many, many other uses for zeolite, from water purification (in much the same way that charcoal is used) to helping your body achieve its optimal slightly alkaline pH. Have fun experimenting, and your skin can thank us later!
*As with any new ingredient, please make sure to check with your doctor before using.
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