Nena Skincare Canadian Glacial Oceanic Clay Mask

Nena Skincare is a Canadian brand that has built a mineral-based 4-step skincare system focused on one star ingredient: glacial oceanic clay. Their FAQ and Company pages provide some backstory: Ironwood Clay Company has been in the business of harvesting, using, and selling glacial oceanic clay since 1989. The company claims that their preferred clay deposits started forming along the coastline of northern British Columbia more than 2.5 million years ago, and that the area’s unique combination of topography and geography created a “nutritive silt composed of more than 60 rare earth elements and marine-rich ions […] the only clay of its kind in the world”.

There are other varieties of clay on the market, but Nena Skincare claims their glacial oceanic clay is distinctive in two ways: origin (geographically unique and largely uncontaminated by people/industry), and properties (it’s more pure, contains all kinds of elements and rare earth minerals, and has complex physical and cosmetic characteristics). There’s even a page on their site specifically about the clay: it’s harvested once a year using a heavily regulated, environmentally friendly and sustainable procedure that appears to involve capturing it in a giant offshore net-like thing. Ironwood Clay Company has been selling their silt to other brands who make commercially available clay masks, but Nena is their own ‘house’ brand – and they claim that Nena products are more pure and natural than any of the other masks using the same clay.

The product I’m reviewing today is a sample of their Clay Mask, which I received via Topbox. My sample is packaged in a 30g plastic tube with a flip-top cap. The full sized product is 120g and appears to come in a larger version of the same plastic tube, so this is a fairly respectable sample.

The website’s product page describes Nena Clay Mask as a detoxifying and hydrating treatment that is hypoallergenic, dermatologist tested, and suitable for all skin types. Not surprisingly, they claim that the special clay is what fuels this product: it exfoliates, removes dirt and toxins, and hydrates to reduce fine lines and wrinkles. It’s also supposed to be “great for combating the effects of pollution”. The clay mask is a lovely, earthy green colour coming out of the tube (about the same colour as the lid, actually) and has a lovely, earthy green smell. Seriously, it smells like a very clean version of dirt that I wish I could bottle and spray everywhere.

Speaking of spraying everywhere, the instructions on the tube say to shake well and evenly apply to my face after cleansing, leave it until it dries, then wash it off, which is… kind of what I did. In a hilarious and unexpected turn of events, my tube had a clay clog that I made the foolish mistake of ‘brute forcing’ out. This resulted in clay goop exploding all over my bathroom and effectively ruining my plan to watch Netflix while the mask dried. I also got some in my mouth during the mask-splosion which felt gritty and weird but didn’t taste like anything (thank goodness).

Cleaning endless silt spatter ended up taking longer than the mask needed to dry, so I kept it on much longer than was necessary and started shedding pale green/grey silt dust all over the place (think Pig-Pen from Peanuts). I don’t think this would be a problem if I had followed the instructions and washed it off right after it dried. After finally washing it off, my skin felt great – not oily, but also not tight/dry. Also noteworthy: Clay Mask contains 4 naturally derived ingredients (clay, a humectant/booster, a preservative/booster, and a thickener). If you like to keep things simple, this mask is a great choice!

To sum it up:

  • Things I like: neat story behind the clay, simple ingredients, great earthy/natural smell, leaves my skin feeling great, didn’t taste gross when I accidentally ate some
  • Things I dislike: the whole clog/explosion issue, high mess factor