9 Detoxifying Ingredients You Need to Add to Your Skin-Care Routine

Updated: Jun. 04, 2021

Free radicals, pollution, and even makeup can take its toll on your complexion. These detoxifying ingredients are like a juice cleanse—for your face.

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Clay is renowned for its detoxifying capabilities. In a process called adsorption, it attracts toxins and soaks them up like a sponge, while infusing skin with beneficial minerals. Most clays do share similar properties—they’re all purifying—but different types have specific strengths. For those with oily complexions, Los Angeles esthetician Alexandra Wagner recommends bentonite (a super absorbent swelling clay, composed of aged volcanic ash sediments), which has incredible oil-drawing and deep cleansing abilities. You can buy a giant tub of Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay, with bentonite clay, for less than $10. Those with sensitive skin should look for more mild varieties, like French pink clay (sometimes called rose clay). Its high concentration of iron oxide and silica makes it great for gently exfoliating, improving circulation, and drawing out impurities without drying out skin. Try: Herbivore Pink Clay Exfoliating Mask or Origins Retexturizing Mask with Rose Clay. Find out the best face mask for your specific skin type.



Charcoal is deeply detoxifying (more on that in a minute) and its gritty texture makes it great for physical exfoliation. It’s a literal toxin magnet—attracting, binding to, and pulling out impurities, explains Wagner. A charcoal cleanser, like Joanna Vargas Miracle Bar or Clinique City Block Purifying Charcoal Cleansing Gel, is a great way to remove dirt, pollution, and makeup that accumulates on skin over the course of the day. A weekly face mask with charcoal is a great way to give pores a major deep clean. Try: boscia Charcoal Pore Pudding Intensive Wash-Off Treatment and Moon Rivers Naturals Activated Charcoal Mask. Congested skin? These pore-clogging habits could be to blame.


Dead Sea mud

You’ve probably seen mud masks on spa menus, but you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars to reap its therapeutic benefits. No, we’re not suggesting you slather your skin with muck dug up from your yard! Perhaps the best known and widely regarded mud is Dead Sea mud, from the salty, mineral-rich sea of the same name in Israel. It’s extremely rich in minerals (magnesium, sodium, potassium, and calcium), which help to purify, improve texture, and balance skin pH. Try: Ahava Purifying Mud Mask, artnaturals Dead Sea Mud Mask, or Pure Body Naturals Dead Sea Mud Mask. Planning to snap a #nomakeup selfie? Steal Gwyneth Paltrow’s skin detox tricks first.


Green tea

You already know that antioxidant-rich green tea offers a whole host of benefits when you drink it—from boosting immunity to improving concentration, but what about when applied topically? According to celebrity esthetician Joanna Vargas, green tea is amazing for increasing circulation and detoxing skin. Its antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and astringent properties make it a stellar acne treatment. (If you have breakouts, give these blemish-busting face masks a try.) It also offers antioxidant protection against damaging free radicals. Try: Milk Makeup Matcha Toner or Vivant Skin Care Green Tea Antioxidant Cleanser. Green tea can also help reduce puffiness and swelling around the eyes. Simply brew and cool tea bags and place them on your eyes. These are the 11 health benefits of green tea you haven’t heard before.

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Curcumin-rich turmeric is renowned for its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antioxidant abilities, and has long been used as natural remedy for number of skin conditions. It can reduce redness, calm inflammation (ideal for eczema, rosacea, and acne-prone complexions), and boost radiance. While you could DIY with ground powder from the grocery store, you run the risk of turning your face, fingers, and clothes orangey-yellow. Luckily, a number of beauty brands have started come out with turmeric-infused formulas, which deliver all the benefits—without the stains. Try: White Tiger Serum or Kiehl’s Turmeric & Cranberry Seed Energizing Radiance Mask. These are the spices worth adding to your beauty routine.

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Meet algae, the under-the-sea ingredient that’s about to transform your skincare routine. Rich in antioxidants and detoxifying minerals, this buzzy marine botanical purifies, nourishes, and stimulates circulation (essential for the removal of toxins) and gets skin glowing. Try: Sephora Algae Sleeping Mask or Anthony Algae Facial Cleanser. Do you know the new game-changing anti-agers, according to dermatologists? (Hint: Algae is one of them.)

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Green coffee bean

Green coffee beans, the raw, unroasted seeds of the Coffea Arabica plant, are excellent for detoxifying skin, increasing circulation, and reducing puffiness of the face—as well as around the eyes, explains Vargas. They’re also rich in nourishing fatty acids and antioxidants—notably chlorogenic acid and ferulic acid—which fight against the damage caused by free radicals, pollution, and UV rays. Try: Mahalo The BEAN mask or 100 Pure Coffee Bean Caffeine Eye Cream.

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Epsom salts

Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) is a naturally occurring mineral compound made up of magnesium, oxygen, and sulfur. It has myriad uses, from cleaning tile to fertilizing tomatoes to soothing baths. What makes an Epsom salt soak so special? It’s a great way to detox skin—as you are going to sweat in addition to remineralizing (it helps your body absorb much-needed magnesium; here’s how you can tell if you’re not getting enough magnesium)—ease muscle tension, stimulate circulation, draw waste from the body, and reduce swelling. Read up on the benefits of a soothing soak.


Dry brushing

Ok, so dry brushing isn’t so much an ingredient as a practice, but fans of this ritual say it’s a must. According to Wagner, not only does dry brushing increases blood flow and stimulate the lymphatic system, but it also exfoliates dead skin cells, leaving skin softer, smoother, and more toned. Using a handheld brush made of natural, firm bristles, start at your feet and brush in an upward, circular motion toward the heart. Same goes for your arms: Start with your hands and work upward. “This will get the blood flowing and allowing for better overall circulation.” You want to press firmly, but not too hard. The last thing you want to do is scratch or damage skin. Learn more about the incredible benefits of dry brushing your skin.