The secrets of beauty masks at Homemade London

I am always looking for ways to combine aromatherapy and beekeeping, so a Beauty Mask Workshop at Homemade London was a perfect evening for an aromatherapy beekeeper! I like to make honey masks with essential oils, but wanted to learn more about using natural mineral clays with my recipes.

Homemade London is a beautiful salon at the heart of the West End that specialises in luxurious and indulgent experiences such as parties and workshops. A visit promises you will work with the highest quality materials, fabrics and ingredients to create objects of desire, beautifully packaged to take home. The classes are also social, so you are treated to a glass of wine and nibbles or afternoon tea while you work.

All the best beauty secrets are locked away in nature and the Beauty Mask Workshop revealed a few gems. The evening was hosted by the owner of Homemade London, Nicola Barron, who welcomed us with sparkly pink fizz and French Fancies while we enjoyed the salon’s pretty window dressing and creative haberdashery.

Handmade tissue paper pom-poms make fabulous window dressing.

A cabinet of haberdashery curiosities for making sparkly arts and crafts.

Nicola started the workshop by introducing the properties of various mineral clays and why they are good for different skin types. The workshop used three clays that possess highly active mineral properties such as deep cleansing, purifying, exfoliating and refining:

  • Rhassoul, or Moroccan beauty clay: a unique clay, sourced from beneath the Atlas Mountains of Morocco, that deep cleanses, detoxifies and exfoliates while also improving skin texture. It is a powerful-acting clay suitable even for sensitive skins.
  • Red argiletz clay: a naturally red-pigmented clay that is beneficial for dry, sensitive and irritated skins.
  • Kaolin, or white china clay: softening and soothing, this clay is suitable for all skin types and it gently balances the stronger drawing properties of red and Rhassoul clays.

Clockwise from top left (black bowl): kaolin white china clay, Moroccan rhassoul clay, and red argiletz clay.

Our homemade beauty masks used other natural ingredients that you might find in your fridge or kitchen cupboard, such as strawberries, bananas and double cream that have active properties good for your skin. For example, both strawberries and cream are mildly exfoliating, while strawberries are toning and cream is nourishing. ‘It is important to use double cream,’ said Nicola. ‘Although you can use Greek yoghurt instead.’

As we mashed bowls of fresh strawberries and banana, Nicola explained how to make our beauty masks: ‘Choose two or three clays with properties that best suit your skin’s needs, then mix about half a teaspoon of each with a little water or small portion of fruit and cream.’ Naturally, we chose fruit and cream because it sounded much more decadent!

Adding berries to a homemade facial mask have a refining and tightening effect on your skin. I was in charge of mashing strawberries.

We each experimented with three different beauty masks, choosing combinations such as red and white clay with banana, and rhassoul, red and white clay with strawberry. My favourite combination was rhassoul and white clay with strawberry and cream, which felt so luxurious on my skin. Using this beauty mask at home could easily recreate the experience of a Moroccan hammam in my bathroom!

Ingredients for a personalised beauty mask using rhassoul and kaolin clays and mashed strawberry; just add a little cream.

Nicola recommended adding a little white clay to every combination, because it both lessens and balances the stronger drawing properties of the red and rhassoul clays. She also warned that the red clay might leave you looking a little orange! We patch tested all our beauty masks on the back of our hands for about five minutes, which is good practice before using any new beauty product, homemade or otherwise.

When at home, Nicola advised using a beauty mask once a week and wearing for just 10 minutes, because it is not good for your skin to let the clay dry out.

As a bonus, we created a homemade lime-and-sugar body scrub using a mixture of brown Demerara and white sugars and olive oil, fragranced with lime essential oil.

Lime-and-sugar body scrub makes you smell good enough to eat!

We got to take home a jar containing a mixture of mineral clays of our choice, which will keep for about 18 months (if stored correctly out of direct heat, light and moisture) and should make about 12–15 applications of beauty masks. The great thing was how versatile it was to make our own masks, ‘We like to empower people to go away with knowledge and a few good ingredients to create for themselves,’ said Nicola. It’s a good philosophy. Nicola buys her clays, including the amazing Moroccan rhassoul beauty clay, from Baldwins in London.

We were given handouts with helpful descriptions of the different properties of each clay and of other natural ingredients such as honey and avocado, so we could continue to experiment with different combinations at home.

Homemade London hold all sorts of arts and craft workshops like sewing and perfumery. I’ll be trying out a few more this summer – bee-patterned cushions, perhaps…

Homemade beauty to go! My personalised mineral clay base mix and a body sugar scrub.

It was a really fun evening and I got to meet two other lovely ladies interested in natural skin care. Check out Francesca’s blog and Kristina’s blog for more homemade ideas and beauty recipes. After we had finished making our masks, there was little to do but chat and eat cake.

Fabulous French Fancies and a couple of chocolate brownies – also good for stuffing your face!

Honey, lavender and geranium clay beauty mask

How do beauty masks combine aromatherapy and beekeeping? Swop strawberry and cream for honey and add a drop or two of essential oils, and you have a beauty mask fit for an aromatherapy beekeeper. When I got home, I tried this combination:

  • 1/2 tsp rhassoul clay
  • 1/2 tsp white clay
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 drop lavender essential oil
  • 1 drop geranium essential oil

Honey has antiseptic properties and is nourishing and softening to skin. I was lucky to use the honey from my hive, which smelt lovely in this recipe. (Thanks to Queen Rosemary and her hardworking ladies!) Lavender and geranium essential oils blended in equal quantities have a wonderfully balancing action on skin sebum, making the mask suitable for all skin types.

After patch testing on the back of my hand, I made a second application for my face and patted onto cleansed, dry skin, leaving for 10 minutes. I rinsed off with warm water, and went to bed with my skin feeling amazingly soft, smooth and rejuvenated. I’ll be surprised if my bees recognise me when we open our hives for the shook swarm next week!