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Best Clay Masks

Updated November 2023
Bottom line
Pros
Cons
Best of the Best
Cetaphil Dermacontrol Purifying Clay Face Mask
Cetaphil
Dermacontrol Purifying Clay Face Mask
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Trusted Brand
Bottom Line

Two types of clay work together to reduce blackheads by exfoliating the skin and unclogging pores.

Pros

The hypoallergenic formula is fragrance-free and non-comedogenic. Ingredients such as apple fruit extract and cucumber seed provide additional benefits such as skin hydrating and brightening. Comes with a spatula applicator.

Cons

A few reviewers mentioned that this product seemed to cause their eyes to sting.

Best Bang for the Buck
The Body Shop Tea Tree Skin Clearing Clay Face Mask
The Body Shop
Tea Tree Skin Clearing Clay Face Mask
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Simple Yet Solid
Bottom Line

Ideal choice for acne-prone, oily skin; this mask harnesses the properties of tea tree oil to cleanse and purify.

Pros

Fights blemishes and breakouts with tea tree, lemon tea tree, and tamanu oils. Hand-harvested ingredients that are steam-distilled within 12 hours. Deeply soothes, cleanses, and rejuvenates oily skin. Non-drying formula that is quick and easy to use.

Cons

Stings if it gets into eyes, so its recommended to avoid the sensitive areas around eyes and lips.

Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay
Aztec Secret
Indian Healing Clay
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Simple Ingredients
Bottom Line

A deep-cleansing mask made with just 100% natural Bentonite clay.

Pros

Powdered clay is mixed with water or apple cider vinegar and can be used as a face mask to cleanse pores. Can also be used for other purposes such as a foot soak or insect bite treatment. Fragrance-free. Comes in a 1-lb container.

Cons

Skin does tend to be red for a little while after use.

Plantifique Superfood Marine Clay Mask
Plantifique
Superfood Marine Clay Mask
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Most Eco-friendly
Bottom Line

Made from 100-percent natural, vegan ingredients, this mask is a top choice for users looking to reduce acne and support the environment.

Pros

Vegan ingredients include: spirulina, avocado, tea tree oil, aloe vera, and other fruits and vegetables. Cleanses and tightens skin, minimizing pores. Controls oil and prevents future breakouts.

Cons

Some users aren't the biggest fans of the scent, and others claim to not notice much improvement after using.

Grace & Stella Dead Sea Mud Clay Mask
Grace & Stella
Dead Sea Mud Clay Mask
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Naturally Hydrates
Bottom Line

If you're not looking for a deep cleanse, this is a mild, pleasant mask.

Pros

The Dead Sea Mud and Clay mask is made of all natural ingredients. Unlike many clay masks, this one hydrates your skin. Works great as a skin treatment before a makeup routine. The clay also comes with a mini spatula for easy application.

Cons

Some buyers complain that the clay does little besides moisturize.

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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. About BestReviews  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.About BestReviews 
HOW WE TESTED

We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Buying guide for Best clay masks

The use of clay for masks and beauty rituals dates back thousands of years. Cleopatra was a fan, and so were the ancient Romans, including Pliny the Elder, who wrote about the uses of clay for treating acne and for tightening skin. Today, there are many options for face masks, including sheet masks and rubber masks, but if you have acne-prone or oily skin, clay masks are unrivaled. The clay naturally detoxifies skin, absorbing grease, drying pimples, and clearing clogged pores.

There are a few different types of clay used in these masks, such as white, red, and green. Bentonite clay is a classic, potent clay used not only in face masks but also for hair and scalp treatments. Many clay masks are drying to skin, but with the right moisturizing routine and application, this can be minimized. Some clay masks include hydrating ingredients as well.

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The texture of clay naturally exfoliates skin.

What are clay masks?

Clay masks are designed to be applied to the face for a short period of time: 5 to 20 minutes, depending on the brand and skin sensitivity. Bentonite and some green clay masks come in a powder form that needs to be mixed with water or apple cider vinegar to a form a paste that is then applied to the face. Clay masks are typically washed off with water or, in some cases, peeled off.

Clay masks are purifying due to clay’s natural ability to detoxify and draw out impurities. This includes congestion like blackheads and other debris or dirt trapped deep in your pores. Clay is also super absorbent and soaks up any excess sebum and rebalances oil. Clay even exfoliates the skin. All these properties help clear up and prevent acne.

Lastly, clay masks have a tightening effect on the skin, minimizing pores and leaving you with a shiny glow and a complexion that looks and feels squeaky clean.

Key considerations

Types of clay

  • White: White clay masks generally consist of either bentonite or kaolin clay.

    • Calcium bentonite clay is formed from volcanic ash. Its super-absorbent quality makes it a champion detoxifier. Some users even ingest a small amount to detox the body of heavy metals, pesticides, and other harmful toxins (but please don’t attempt this without medical supervision). It also has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, which is why bentonite is a favorite with acne sufferers.

    • Kaolin clay is another white clay that is popular in masks that provide deep pore cleansing. It’s not as absorbent as bentonite clay, making it better suited for dry or sensitive skin. It also provides mild exfoliation and a softening effect on the skin. Yellow kaolin clay offers even stronger exfoliation and oil absorbency.

  • Red: Red clay, like Rhassoul (or Ghassoul) clay from Morocco, is a mineral-rich clay containing high amounts of silica, potassium, and magnesium — all great for the skin. This negatively charged clay attracts impurities like a magnet and unclogs congested, blackhead-riddled skin. Red clay also helps even out skin tone and reduces redness caused by hyperpigmentation.

  • Green: European green clay, or illite, is a great option for sensitive-complected folks. Derived from a combo of volcanic ash and mineral-rich decomposing plants, green clay softens dry and/or rough skin. It also does all the good things red and white clay masks do: tones skin, reduces pores, draws out impurities, and rebalances oil, but with a gentler effect on your skin. These masks often come as powders that need to be activated by water.

  • Pink: Pink or rose clay masks are gentler for the skin than white or red clay while being a gentle combo of both clays (red plus white equals pink!) These masks are great for sensitive or dry skin types that are in need of mild exfoliation and detoxification.

Premade vs. powder

Clay masks come in two different forms: premade formulas and powder.

  • Premade: These clay masks can be applied directly from the jar or tube to the face, making them way more convenient than powder. However, the container size is a lot smaller and more expensive than mixing up a clay paste DIY style. Premade clay masks come in cosmetic jars, tubs, or tubes ranging in size from 1.7 to 8.8 ounces.

  • Powder: These clay masks require you to mix the clay powder with water in a separate container. This requires the extra steps of measuring out amounts, mixing, and cleanup. However, a mask in powder form is much more economical than a premade mask, and a big jar or bag of powder can last from months to years. Clay powder, such as bentonite or green clay, comes in jars containing from 3.0 to 16 ounces or in bags of 16 or 32 ounces.
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Did you know?
It’s best to apply a 1/8- to 1/4-inch-thick layer of clay mask to your face.
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Clay mask features

Peel-off

These clay masks come off in easy pieces, like sheet masks. Clay masks are notoriously difficult to remove when hardened (dry), so much so that you could be tempted to swear off them altogether. Peel-off clay masks can save you a lot of frustration.

Moisturizing

These clay mask offer hydrating ingredients to offset the drying effect of clay on the skin. These might include plant-based oils like jojoba or shea butter.

Dead sea mud

Sourced from the Dead Sea in Israel, a wellness destination for tourists, this mud has been touted for its healing properties since ancient times. The “mud” is in fact sedimentary clay chock-full of 21 minerals and purifying abilities, as well as  a hydrating component. Look for this imported ingredient added to clay masks.

Activated charcoal

This ingredient sometimes featured in clay masks is detoxifying all on its own. Charcoal is also superb at combating acne-prone skin.

Clay mask prices

Inexpensive

The lowest-priced clay masks are bentonite clay powder. Expect to pay $7 to $15 for a one-pound quantity. Green clay mask powder also is priced in the higher end of this range, and up to $18 for a pound. You can also score drugstore-brand, premade clay masks in this price bracket.

Mid-range

Mid-priced clay masks range from $15 to $20 and are generally premade and may include red clay, kaolin clay, and features like Dead Sea mud and activated charcoal.

Expensive

High-end clay masks run anywhere from $21 to $40, and even upwards of $50. These include pink clay and may also contain bonus skincare ingredients like collagen.

Tips

  • Do a patch test first. Even if you’ve used a clay mask before, if you’re switching to a different type of clay or a new brand, always do a patch test first to see how your skin reacts.

  • Apply a clay mask to your neck, back, or chest. Clay masks don’t have to be limited to the face. Apply one to any other area prone to breakouts.

  • Apply the mask with a spatula or brush. This will help you to evenly coat the skin and reduce mess.

  • Use it as a spot treatment. A clay mask can also double as a natural spot treatment for acne breakouts.

  • Don’t wait for a clay mask to dry completely. It’s a common mistake. Rinse off the mask when it starts to dry (the outer edges turn a lighter color) to prevent irritating and dehydrating the skin.

  • Remove the mask with a washcloth and lukewarm water. Wipe gently. Clay masks can be difficult to remove, but go at it by wiping more frequently, not harder. Follow up with a moisturizer.
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You may experience a contracting and tingling sensation on your skin as the clay mask dries and hardens.

FAQ

Q. How often should I use a clay mask?

A. Most beauty experts recommend using a clay mask once a week. However, if your skin is excessively oily, two to three times a week may benefit you. Some clay masks are milder than others, so factor that in as well as your skin’s sensitivity.

Q. How long should I leave a clay mask on my face?

A. Clay masks can be left on the skin anywhere from 3 to 20 minutes for best results. It is not recommended that you leave a clay mask on for more than 20 minutes because it can be dehydrating and strip your skin of its natural oils. Beauty experts recommend removing the clay mask when it’s still damp, not when it’s already dry. Since every skin type is different, see what length of time works best for your skin, and always follow the directions on the label.

Q. What’s the difference between a clay mask and a mud mask?

A. Although they’re sometimes used interchangeably in the beauty industry, clay and mud masks are kind of but not really the same thing. Clay is a more defined term, containing certain minerals and particle sizes. Mud has a more all-encompassing definition: it can contain soil, silt, and clay, and it may or may not contain minerals. However, most mud masks on the market contain kaolin, a common type of clay found in clay masks. It’s up for debate which masks are better for your skin, however.

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