One of the biggest trends in 2018 when it came to skincare was masking; we saw celebrities to the likes of Kim Kardashian and Bella Hadid posting frequent instragram posts about their chill-time while having a face mask on. The increasing pollution and stress levels have made it mandatory for us to take some time out of our busy schedule to provide the skin much-needed TLC and clear out the congestion, and that’s where clay face masks come into the picture.
Clay face masks come in a lot of variants and offer a lot of benefits for every skin concern and type, contrary to the popular belief that clay face masks are only meant for oily skin. From Bentonite to Kaolin, Rose clay to Sea clay; there are a lot of clay masks readily available and you can even customize them according to your skin’s needs.
Clay is a naturally-occurring substance rich in minerals such as magnesium, calcium, iron, silica, and potassium and it can be found in volcanic ash, sediment, and soil. Clay has been used for centuries because of its amazing properties. Clay facial masks dates back to ancient Egyptians, where they used clay masks to cleanse their skin. In modern times, clay face masks can be used in various ways to beautify skin – such as detoxifying, exfoliating, purifying and nourishing, cleansing, brightening etc.
Applying clay mask is an easy and cost effective way to revive and rejuvenate your skin. So, if one can find the right clay mask, keeping in mind one’s skin type and skin concerns, clay face masks can be quite effective. They are made up of variety of different ingredients and have a high aluminate and silicate content. They can also contain minerals such as iron oxide and rock fragments. These components can change the characteristics of the clay and how it performs on skin.
Different Types of Clays Used in Face Masks
- Kaolin Clay: For people who can’t bear the slighting drying nature of Bentonite clay or if they have dry to normal skin, Kaolin clay is the perfect choice. It’s gentle and has less liquid absorbing abilities than the rest. Kaolin clay is one of the most versatile and widely-used clay face masks. It dissolves in water very easily and that’s why it is used in many beauty products. Kaolin clay comes in a variety of shades that work well on different skin types.
- White Kaolin Clay: White kaolin clay is the mildest of clays and is less absorbent than other varieties. That’s why it does not draw as much oil from the skin and this is why it is very much moisturizing. It softens the skin with gentle exfoliation. This type of kaolin clay is suitable for dry and sensitive skin type people.
- Yellow Kaolin Clay: This variant of kaolin clay is slightly more absorbent and exfoliating but still is gentle on the skin. It also helps to stimulate blood circulation thus it imparts a brightening effect and that’s why kaolin clay is best for sensitive skin as well as for dull skin.
- Red Kaolin Clay: This variant has the most absorbing powers out of all the other kaolin clay variants. Therefore it is suited for oily skin people. As this clay has good absorbing properties, it is used for detoxifying masks and acne treatment.
- Pink Kaolin Clay: As the color denotes, it is pretty much a mixture of white and red kaolin clays. It gently exfoliates and absorbs oils, thus making it potentially useful as part of a balanced skincare regimen for acne-prone skin as well as sensitive skin.
- French Green Clay: French Green Clay comes from naturally- occurring deposits from France. It has a soft texture and natural green colour due to iron oxide and decomposed plant matter. It contains high oil-absorbing properties and easily draws out impurities. This clay mask is great for detoxification, tightening pores, and to even out skin tone. It also has some anti-microbial properties as it includes decomposed plant matter and can successfully contribute in healing of bacterial skin infections. It is suitable for acne prone and oily skin types.
- Fuller’s Earth: Fuller’s Earth is mostly composed of aluminium magnesium silicate. Fuller’s Earth is used to fight wrinkles and treat acne. Known for its ability to absorb oil and impurities, it is an effective skin cleanser for people with oily skin or clogged pores. It also improves skin complexion and reduces inflammation.
- Brazilian Clay: Brazilian clay is a type of kaolin clay that comes in a wide range of colours like Dark Red, Pink, Purple, and Yellow. The various shades are due to the variations in the minerals found in the soil in different regions of Brazil. Brazilian clays are also not too strong when it comes to absorption, making them suitable for a wide variety of skin types.
- Green Zeolite Clay: Zeolites are microporous minerals that are formed when volcanic rocks and ash react with alkaline groundwater. The green zeolite clay has great absorption properties and is rather larger in size. Owing to its larger texture, it works as a great exfoliator. It’s best suited for normal to oily skin types and should be avoided by people who have sensitive skin.
- Sea Clay: The sea clay is dark grey-green in colour and is ideal for facial masks and body mud masks. It originated as mud laid down under the sea millions of years ago. It acts as a mild exfoliant and also helps to detoxify skin and reduce cellulite. It has a wide variety of uses such as a face/body mask, body wrap, hair wrap and for soap colouring. Suitable for people with normal to oily skin.
- Moroccan Rhassoul Clay: Moroccan rhassoul clay is sourced from the Atlas Mountains in Morocco and contains high percentage of silica and magnesium. This facial clay absorbs excess oil, draws out toxins, and clears clogged pores. Rhassoul clay is a common choice to treat blackheads and exfoliate dead skin. It also has skin calming and lightly hydrating properties, which makes it suitable for dry and sensitive skin types.
How Clay Face Masks Work
Clay face masks are usually used on skin in a paste form and allowed to dry out. But actually, there are three phases of a clay mask. The first stage is the damp phase where the skin drinks the beneficial properties from the mask. The second stage is the start of the dry phase, which targets the capillaries and stimulates blood flow as the mask cools and contracts. Then comes the dry phase, which draws out the moisture from the skin surface and draws out the impurities from the skin. Clay masks should not be fully allowed to dry out on the skin, as it may cause dryness and irritation.
Why are Clay Face Masks Beneficial?
Clay face masks usually work by absorbing all the dirt and grime that is clogging your pores, giving you clean skin. They are electrically charged and this is how they stimulate skin’s circulation and draw out toxins and impurities. They are skincare treatments that can be used to target a specific problem area or to maintain the overall health of your skin. Masking can also be called a home-spa treatment as it really helps to de-stress.
Most skincare treatments are classified to treat dry, normal, oily, and sensitive skin type. Different types of clay masks available can be beneficial to each skin type. The main benefits of clay masks are discussed below:
- Detoxifying the skin: Clay has incredibly natural detoxification properties. It has strong negative electrical charge, which binds to negatively charged toxins and pulls them from the skin when used with a topical mask.
- Unclogging pores: Clay face masks are an incredible remedy for a lot of oily and acne prone skin issues. A clay mask works like an adhesive when it comes to remove dirt and oil. After application, skin tightens as the clay mask dries because it starts to draw out oils and impurities from the pores. That’s why after cleaning the face after using a clay mask, skin will feel thoroughly deep cleaned.
- Shrinking pores: Minimizing the appearance of pores is one of the main concerns for oily and mature skin. Pores generally become enlarged when they are clogged with excess sebum, bacteria, and dirt. Clay masks draws out those impurities and helps to minimize the pores.
- Oxygenating cells: Clay masks help to remove hydrogen from the skin cells. This allows more room for oxygen to enter the skin’s tissues. This creates improved blood circulation, and rejuvenation of cells and overall healthier skin.
- Regulating sebum production: Skin naturally produces an oil called “sebum” to protect and moisturize itself. When immune systems are over activated, the skin can over produce sebum. This may result in acne, blackheads, whiteheads, oily skin, and blemishes. Clay masks can soak up excess sebum and clean out these impurities from the skin.
- Soft, smooth, glowing skin: Clay is loaded with very important beautifying nutrient known as “silica”. Silica is responsible for formation of connective tissues such as the muscle, tendons, collagen, cartilage etc, so the presence of silica supports healthy and strong connective tissues, and helps in making the skin soft and smooth. This is why using clay masks results in healthier and smoother skin.
- Anti bacterial: Hydrated clay binds with not just toxins but also harmful bacteria and pathogens, so when hydrated clay mask is applied on the skin, it binds to bacteria present on the skin’s surface and pores. It brings dried up bacteria on the surface so that it can be washed away.
How to Select Clay Face Masks
There are different types of clays available in the market and different types of clay cater to different skin types and skin concerns. So while choosing the perfect clay mask, one must keep in mind their skin type and for what skin concern they want the mask.
- Oily or Acne Prone Skin: Red kaolin clay and white kaolin clay both are ideal choices for balancing oily skin and unclogging pores. They absorb excess oil and are often used in recipes for masks. These clay masks not only draw out the impurities like sebum, bacterial matters, but also stimulate blood circulation, and leave a healthy glow on the skin.
- Normal to Oily Skin: Bentonite clay can absorb excess oil and tighten skin simultaneously. This clay has anti-bacterial properties, so it helps oily skin to get rid of acne.
- Sensitive or Reactive Skin: French Green clay is detoxifying and healing. So this is really good for sensitive skin and reactive skin which gets sunburn, allergic reactions easily. It’s anti-inflammatory properties, believed to come from the plant matter in the clay.
- Aged Skin: Rhassoul clay is rich in magnesium and silica, so it helps the skin to regain its elasticity. It firms and revitalize the skin. Rhassoul clay draws out toxins and gives a calming effect on the skin. This clay variant is the most hydrating of the other clays, so it helps the skin to retain moisture.
- Pigmented Skin: Fuller’s earth has lightening properties for pigmented skin. It draws out excess sebum and decolorizing oil out of pores. It reduces the appearance of dark spots and acne scars.
- Dull and Sensitive Skin: Yellow kaolin clay have medium absorbency level and gently exfoliate the skin. It stimulates circulation which results in a brightening effect on the skin. Also, it’s not harsh on the skin, it is perfect for dull and sensitive skin.
How To Use Clay Face Masks
Clay masks should always be used on a cleansed face that is sans any makeup so that it can work in deeper layers of the skin and allows for better skin absorption.
The most useful tip on clay masks is to not let it dry completely. When your mask is damp, your skin is basically absorbing the useful ingredients and when it starts to dry, it stimulates blood flow. But take it any further than that and the moisture will start to draw out from the surface of the skin. This also results in dehydrated, itchy, tight and dry skin. So the best time to wash your mask is when it’s starting to dry but feels sticky in some areas. Once the mask starts to dry, the color of the mask starts to fade. The best time to remove the mask is when it has not completely dried out. Do not wait for the clay mask to crack on the face. Once it starts to feel tight, that is the best time to remove it.
Use lukewarm water to wash your face and follow it up with an alcohol-free toner, moisturizer and/or serum after giving your skin a few minutes to breathe.
It’s always better to mask at night, that way you don’t have to step out in the polluted environment again and your skin gets enough time to restore itself.
While the “A Mask A Day” challenge seems to be in trend, don’t use clay masks on a daily basis if you don’t want to dehydrate your skin. If masking frequently is your thing, use hydrating sheet masks in between. The best way to use clay mask is to apply it 2-3 times a week and moisturize skin afterwards.
It’s not necessary to use one clay mask on your entire face, multi-masking is a thing and it helps to target different skin concerns at a time. If your skin feels dry or dull on certain areas, use a hydrating or brightening mask while the other areas (especially T-zone) could use a detoxifying mask. Listen to your skin and mask accordingly.
You can buy readymade clay masks directly from the store or grab raw clay powders online or offline and make your own customized clay mask. You can easily find these clays and make a DIY by adding other ingredients like Apple Cider Vinegar, Rose Water or just plain water to get one that’s the best for you. Most of the clays can be used in conjunction with other variants, like mixing Bentonite clay with rose clay can give you clear and bright complexion.
Clay mask mistakes:
1. Not choosing the right clay mask for specific skin type.
2. Leaving the clay mask on for too long is the biggest mistake.
3. Not cleansing the face before applying the clay mask.
4. Not hydrating your skin after masking with clay mask.
5. Using the same clay mask all over your face and not multi-masking to benefit your skin.
6. Applying the clay mask with dirty hands which may result into redness and acne. Please use clean hands or use an applicator or brush to apply clay mask.
7. Do not mix dry powder clay mask in metal bowls. Always use glass bowl to make clay face packs.
Things to keep in mind:
1. Clay masks deeply cleanse the skin, so dry skin people might feel their skin becoming dry, so it necessary to follow up with a good moisturizer to hydrate your skin.
2. People with sensitive skin and acne prone skin might find tingling sensation while using clay masks.
3. There can be breakouts, bumps and redness spotted after using clay masks, it is called purging. This means that your skin is getting rid of all the impurities that the clay mask has drawn out from the pores. Don’t worry, purging goes away on its own.
4. Some face masks, mostly having Bentonite, cause redness and stinging initially when you apply them. You can literally feel your face pulsating once you rinse the mask off. Most of the time, it is pretty normal (brands mention these details as well, so check the label) and that shows that the mask is working. Give your skin 30-40 minutes and it’ll be normal. And if you’re someone with sensitive skin, the burning and flushed skin would be a lot more than usual.
Best Clay Face Masks
All-rounder Clay Face Masks
1. Innisfree Pore Clearing Clay Mask with Super Volcanic Clusters
Known globally as “Super Volcanic Pore Clay Mask 2X”, this 10-in-1 clay mask by Innisfree is formulated with Jeju Volcanic Cluster Sphere that adheres to sebum for intensive decongestion. It tightens pores and controls sebum production while gently exfoliating to remove blackheads. It deeply cleanses the skin, provides a cooling effect and a softer, brighter and firm looking skin.
WHERE TO BUY: JET.COM
2. Niod Flavanone Mud:
This is a three-phase rinse-off decongestion system. First one is its Purifying Phase in which it takes out all the oils and impurities from the skin. Next is the Protective Phase that offers a physical shield against external build-up. The last one is Responsive Phase that fights against environmental congestion factors. All the steps combined give a long-term effect to the skin as opposed to most of the masks available whose results don’t last very long.
WHERE TO BUY: SKINSTORE | LOOK FANTASTIC
3. Peter Thomas Roth Irish Moor Mud Purifying Black Mask
Seldom do you find masks that can do it all. The Irish Moor Mud mask by Peter Thomas Roth is one of them. It purifies, decongests and hydrates your skin. The Irish Moor Mud takes out dirt, oil and other impurities and adds moisture, vitamins and anti-oxidants to the skin making to both cleaner and hydrated.
WHERE TO BUY: SEPHORA | MACYS | SKINSTORE
Detoxifying Clay Face Masks
4. Aztec Indian Healing Clay
A holy grail drugstore mask that promises to do everything! It has been a staple for the DIY queen Farah Dhukai who swears by its detoxifying and acne-healing property. The only ingredient here is Calcium Bentonite clay. It gives you a facelift and is used mainly with raw Apple Cider Vinegar (equal parts ACV and clay). However, a few people with sensitive skin have faced skin reactions with this one as it’s too strong. Since this has bentonite, don’t use a metal container for mixing.
WHERE TO BUY: URBAN OUTFITTERS | BEAUTY ENCOUNTER
5. Glamglow Super Mud
Glamglow’s #1 best-selling mud mask fights skin imperfections, acne, reduces pore size and decongests the skin. The supermud mask is made with a blend of six acids, activated-x charcoal, and K-17 clay. It exfoliates the skin and gives clearer complexion. The brand warns that the product tingles to let you know it is working. Your skin might also appear flushed for a short time. But that’s normal!
WHERE TO BUY: OVERSTOCK | AMAZON
6. Omorovicza Deep Cleansing Mask:
A problem many people who don’t have oily skin face while using detoxifying masks is the drying effect it has on their skin post-rinsing. And that’s where Omorovicza Deep Cleansing Mask comes into play! While the price tag is rather astronomical for some, this white clay mask has the ability to not just cleanse your face from the core, it also doesn’t dry out the skin. The mask consists of Hungarian Moor mud, rich in calcium and magnesium, that clears congested pores and draw out impurities, giving an instant brightness to the skin.
WHERE TO BUY: SEPHORA | SAKS FIFTH AVENUE | OMOROVICZA
7. Caudalie Instant Detox Mask
Enriched with pink clay and coffee, this mask helps target blackheads while papaya enzymes brighten the complexion. It combats excess oil, detoxifies skin and reduces breakouts.
WHERE TO BUY: SEPHORA | SKINSTORE | SKINCARE RX
8. L’Oreal Paris Pure Clay Detox Brighten Face Mask
This clay mask has benefits of charcoal so it detoxify and illuminate skin in just 10 minutes. This formula provides a luxurious experience where charcoal act like a magnet to clean out oil and draw out impurities from pores.
WHERE TO BUY: ULTA
9. Michael Todd Kaolin Clay Detoxifying Facial Mask
This mask has ingredients light kaolin clay, sulphur and witch hazel which are known to be anti-inflammatory and calming to acne prone, re, or irritated skin. It draws out all the excess oil and sebum from the skin and it also hydrates skin with aloe and glycerine. This is why it is one of the best detoxifying mask.
WHERE TO BUY: BED BATH & BEYOND
Hydrating Clay Face Masks
10. Glamglow Thirsty Mud
A hydrating treatment that provides instant and lasting hydration. With some really hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid, coconut, honey, and ginger, this creamy mud treatment calms skin, leaving it hydrated and glowing. Great for anyone with dry skin!
WHERE TO BUY: SEPHORA | QVC | BIRCHBOX
11. Dr Barbara Sturm Face mask
A wash-off mask that provides intensive hydration has potent natural compounds with medical molecular active substances to protect, hydrate and detoxify your complexion. It has aloe vera and chamomile, as well as antioxidants to fight free radicals. The presence of kaolin imparts soft and supple skin. It’s one of the most soothing masks and is used by Victoria Beckham! In fact, she sleeps with it on for extra hydration.
WHERE TO BUY: SPACE NK | OLIVELA
12. Charlotte Tilbury Goddess Skin Clay Mask
This is one of a kind luxurious clay mask which includes Spanish clay which absorb oil and target impurities. This also improves skin elasticity and gives a youthful look so it not only purifies skin but also make skin brighter and hydrated.
WHERE TO BUY: CHARLOTTE TILBURY
Brightening Clay Face Masks
13. Glamglow Power Mud
A dual action mud-to-oil cleansing treatment that deeply removes dirt, oil, and makeup. It has four types of clays, prickly pear oil, and velvetleaf which gives fresh, clean, velvety-smooth skin while also being gentle. It’s a great option for people who have dull, uneven and textured skin.
WHERE TO BUY: SEPHORA | BIRCHBOX
14. Origins Original Skin Retexturizing Mask with Rose Clay
The Origins Original Skin Retexturizing Mask with Rose Clay instantly minimizes the appearance of pores and leaves your complexion healthy and glow-y. The presence of rose clay makes it gentle enough to use for dry and sensitive skin types. It’s an excellent choice when you want to get smoother and brighter skin.
WHERE TO BUY: SEPHORA | BIRCHBOX | DILLARDS
15. Sisley Radiant Glow Express Mask
This mask combines red clay, white clay, plant extract(Carrot, Red Vine, and Rosehip), and essential oils (Rosemary and Chamomile) which immediately makes skin radiant in under three minutes. It eliminates impurities that dull the complexion and give a soft, supple skin without drying it out. An ideal choice when you are heading out for a date night or an event and need radiant skin in a jiffy.
WHERE TO BUY: SAKS FIFTH AVENUE | BARNEYS
Purifying Clay Face Masks
16. Clinique City Block Purifying Charcoal Clay Mask + Scrub
A purifying mask which gives your skin deep cleansing making your skin look polishes and healthier. It has natural bamboo charcoal and kaolin clay that help to remove dirt and impurities, while natural silica beads gently exfoliate giving a smoother skin. The presence of Kaolin clay and a 100% fragrance-free formula makes it gentle enough for people with sensitive skin.
WHERE TO BUY: SAKS FIFTH AVENUE | DILLARDS | SEPHORA
17. The Body Shop Himalayan Charcoal Purifying Glow Mask
This vegan, tingling clay mask is infused with bamboo charcoal, green tea leaves and organic tea tree oil which draws out impurities and reduces the pore-size. It gives a healthy, glowy skin and reduces excess sebum production. And it’s been formulated without parabens, paraffin, silicone or mineral oil.
WHERE TO BUY: ULTA
18. Fresh Umbrian Clay Purifying Mask
A perfect balance between deep cleansing and replenishing this non drying clay mask uses the ingredient Umbrian clay. Thanks to its high mineral content skin is also balanced and clarified. Sandalwood oil and chamomile flower and lavender water are also added to fathers suit the skin and minimise irritation.
WHERE TO BUY: SEPHORA
Clay face masks are completely natural ways to detoxify, cleanse, purify, exfoliate, and beautify skin without any adverse side effects. As long as one can find a clay face mask concerning one’s skin problem and skin type, it can be very much beneficial to revive and rejuvenate skin.