We purchased Aztec Secret's Indian Healing Clay so our writer could put it to the test. Keep reading for our full product review.
I've been dealing with hormonal acne for years, and whenever a new breakout crops up, the first thing I do is search for a quick pimple fix online. The one face treatment that always shows up in my search is the Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay, a mix-it-yourself mask that contains just one ingredient: calcium bentonite clay. With thousands of five-star reviews, it's clear the love of this mask isn't just hype—it works for many people with a range of skin types. As one of Byrdie's resident beauty contributors, it was only right I tried it for myself. Read on for my review.
Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay Mask
Star Rating: 4.6 / 5
Uses: Helping with acne breakouts and clarifying skin
Active ingredients: 100% natural calcium bentonite clay
Byrdie Clean?: Yes
About the Brand: The Aztec mask is a cult-favorite known for its ability to deeply cleanse the skin and help clear breakouts.
About My Skin: Sensitive, combination skin
Before I tried this mask, there were a few things I wanted to know. Because I have sensitive, combination skin, I wanted to find out how to make the correct mixture for my skin type—especially since there are a few variations. For example, some people like to mix their clay with water, while others take it a step further by adding apple cider vinegar and even honey to their DIY treatment for added hydration.
Ingredients: Natural bentonite clay
This mask contains just one ingredient: 100% natural calcium bentonite clay, which is amazing at absorbing excess oil and drawing out impurities in the skin. According to Aztec Secret, this particular clay is derived from volcanic ash and is sourced from Death Valley, California, where it's sun-dried for six months in high temperatures (up to 134 degrees).
Since this mask contains just one ingredient, it's totally free of additives and fragrances. It's also not tested on animals and is considered clean by Byrdie's standards.
How To Use: Mix with apple cider vinegar or water
Aztec Secret recommends mixing the clay with equal parts of apple cider vinegar or water. I chose apple cider vinegar because it was a favorite amongst other reviewers. I could already tell this was going to be a messy process, so I tried a pro-tip from Reddit's SkincareAddiction thread, which was totally genius: Put your two ingredients into a sandwich bag and swish them around. Mess avoided.
According to the brand, you shouldn't leave this mask on for longer than five to 10 minutes to prevent any redness or drying. I once read that clay masks should be rinsed off as soon as you feel them tighten, which happened at the five-minute mark for me.
Honestly, taking off this mask was a little tiresome. But once I bumped up the water temperature and let my wet towel sit on my skin for 30 seconds at a time, the mixture started to break up. When the goop did finally come off, it was pretty thick. To avoid clogging my sink, I collected the big chunks and threw them in the trash instead of letting them go down the drain. (If you know your sink is prone to clogging, I recommend doing this—it might save you from a plumbing debacle later on.)
The Feel: Light and airy when wet but dries down
The clay mask alone has a fine texture, but once combined with apple cider vinegar, it becomes light and workable. However, once my mixture started to dry after application, I couldn't move my face and felt a slight tingle (likely from the apple cider vinegar). While I had the mask on, a friend made me laugh, and it was nearly impossible to express myself, which made trying this a fun memory.
The Results: Smaller-looking pores, ASAP
After my skin was clay-free, it felt soft, but a little dry. Luckily, the dryness was nothing a little rosehip oil couldn't fix. While my skin didn’t have any wow-worthy results, more pores did appear smaller (especially on my nose). I like to think that my nightly skincare products worked more efficiently after rinsing off the gunk this mask brought to the surface.
The Value: Unbeatable
When I opened the brown box with the Aztec clay, I immediately thought, wow, this is a massive jar for a super affordable price. I can't be sure how long this tub of clay will last me, but I would imagine I could get at least 15 masks out of it, which makes each treatment less than a dollar. You can't get more budget-friendly than that—especially for an all-natural DIY treatment that really works.
Similar Products: You have options
While there aren’t many one-ingredient clay mask treatments like the Aztec Clay Mask, there are definitely clay-based masks that can help address similar skincare concerns.
Klei Beauty Clarify SuperGreens & Lavender Green Clay Mask ($14): Most of us reach for a clay mask when we’re oily or want to zap a pimple that decided to take up space (and not pay rent) on our faces. This face mask is made with French green clay, lavender, and aloe to help clarify, balance, and calm the skin.
Beneath Your Mask Illuminate Clarifying Face Mask ($70): Treating yourself is always a good idea, especially when it’s time for your weekly face mask. What makes this luxe mask worth the investment is that its French green clay is infused with wild-harvested and organic ingredients like honey, coconut milk, turmeric, and aloe vera that brighten, soothe, and suck up excess oil.
Our Verdict: Do it
For the price, this is one of the most effective face masks you can buy—and, with just one ingredient, its formula is super clean. Just be sure to spot-test it before trying a full mask if you have sensitive skin.