Irish Moss Red Algae: Your New Favorite DIY Mask Ingredient

Mixed with just water or with a bunch of other natural ingredients, Irish moss makes for a super-beneficial skin treatment.
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Mixed with just water or with a bunch of other natural ingredients, Irish moss makes for a super-beneficial skin treatment.

I discovered Irish moss last Thanksgiving when I was searching for a way to make raw vegan pumpkin pie. (By the way, I make really good raw vegan pumpkin pie). Irish moss is a form of red algae that, when made into a gel, resembles Clinique Moisture Surge, which I was addicted to throughout high school. Half the batch ended up in the pie and the other half smothered all over my face, thus keeping in line with my edible skincare routine goals.

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In food, Irish moss is used as a thickener, a stabilizer, and a gelatin replacement, and it’s even used in beer and wine production. It's in so many processed foods and cosmetics, chances are you’ve already been exposed to it. Like many natural products, when Irish moss is in it’s super-processed state (coffee creamer, jelly beans, chocolate soy milk, etc.), it’s not that great for you at all. That’s why I’m going to show you how freakin’ easy it is to make it from scratch, eliminating the 20-point processing so you can reap all of the benefits the healthy way!

Raw, unprocessed Irish moss is a great source of protein, iodine, beta-carotene, iron, magnesium, selenium, zinc, pectin, sulfur, calcium, and many more healthy vitamins and beautifying minerals. Along with many reported medical benefits like improving thyroid function and lowering cholesterol, Irish moss can strengthen connective tissue in the body, fortifying your hair, skin, and nails.

I bought my Irish moss at One Lucky Duck because I like any excuse to frolic in there and spend money I don’t have on raw vegan cookies and cereals. Simply take a small handful of moss (about a quarter of a cup) and rinse it three or four times in cold water. Place your rinsed moss in a bowl or container and cover with cold water. You’ll want to soak the moss for at least six hours and change the soaking water twice during this time. You will see that the moss balloons in size and loses much of its odor.

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Drain and rinse the moss and place in a blender with half a cup of water, and blend. At first, it will be kind of chunky and gross, but keep blending and eventually you’ll end up with a smooth gel.

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Since I was only using this on my face and not eating it, I left the gel a little less smooth using the tiny chunks as a kind of gentle exfoliation tool while I applied the mask. (Remember, instead of just slathering your food all over your face, always do a skin patch test on new products no matter how natural they may be.)

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I kept my mask in the fridge for an hour before applying it, and it was very cold, which was unpleasant at the time, but it would feel amazing on a hot day or when de-puffing a hangover face.

The mask is odorless, tasteless and colorless, but it makes you look like a hot mess. Of course, this is the exact moment my friend’s roommate came home from work (oops, hi).

You should feel your skin getting tighter as the mask dries. Leave it on for anywhere between five and 30 minutes, then rinse off with warm water.

After washing off this mask, my skin feels extremely taut but not dry at all. My skin was smooth and dewy the rest of the day.

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Although fresher is always better, this Irish moss gel will store in an airtight container in your fridge for up to three weeks. And the great thing is that you can use it as the base to any homemade face mask. Try it mixed with avocado, papaya, or honey. Instead of blending Irish moss with water, you could also try cold green tea or coffee for an antioxidant-rich face mask.

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Have you made a mask with Irish moss before? Let me know if you try!