Whether your skin is dull, congested, bumpy, or shiny, a clay mask is hands-down one of the best treatments to refine and rebalance. “Clay masks are good for a wide variety of skin types and skin concerns,” explains Dr. Jeannette Graf, a Board-Certified Dermatologist. “They can brighten your skin, absorb excess oils and toxins, hydrate, prevent breakouts, restore the skin’s balance, regulate sebum production, oxygenate your cells, and more.”
So no matter what your skin type, it’s a great product to have on hand as either a quick fix or weekly ritual. But not all clays (and clay masks) are the same, so it’s important to choose a formulation that aligns with your needs. For example, oily complexions will fare well with a detoxifying option whereas dry complexions will require additional moisture.
To help you find the one, we’ve called on the expertise of Dr. Graf, esthetician Melanie Grant, and our team of editors to share their favorite clay mask formulas.
Meet the Expert
Keep reading to find the best clay masks available.
Best for Overall
Innisfree Pore Clearing Clay Mask 2X
Makes the skin feel fresh
Not ideal for sensitive skin
“This mask is ideal for all skin types,” notes Dr. Graf. It utilizes volcanic clusters and alpha-hydroxy acids to minimize the look of pores, absorb sebum, gently exfoliate, deeply cleanse, even out the skin tone, and cleanse away debris.”
I also swear by this mask as a spot treatment, sharing that the whipped clay formula manages to shrink angry spots without over-drying the skin. Keep it on hand for breakout emergencies.
Price at time of publish: $15
Active Ingredients: Jeju volcanic clusters, lactic acid, kaolin, bentonite | Size: 3.28 ounces | Benefits: Exfoliates and minimizes appearance of pores | Skin Type: Oily, Combination, Normal | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
What Our Testers Say
"The clay brought my whiteheads up and soaked up the excess oil from my t-zone and cheek areas on the first use." — Bianca Lambert, Product Tester
Runner-Up, Best Overall
Caudalie Vinergetic C Instant Detox Mask
Works quickly in 10 minutes
Hydrates the skin
May not be suitable for sensitive skin
This TikTok-famous mask is seriously impressive. It contains a blend of white and bentonite clay (two ingredients Dr. Graf says are great for exfoliating, refining, and deeply cleansing the skin) plus antioxidants to unveil an instantly radiant complexion. As it dries, you can almost see it absorbing dirt and oil from within the pore, making for a very satisfying masking experience.
Price at time of publish: $42
Active Ingredients: Kaolin clay, bentonite clay, grapeseed, polyphenols, and caffeine | Size: 2.5 ounces | Benefits: Cleanses and tightens pores in 10 minutes | Skin Type: Normal, Combination, and Oily | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay
Only one ingredient
Needs to be mixed (a tad messy)
This internet-famous powdered clay mask uses 100% bentonite clay formed from volcanic ash to purify and tighten the pores. Bentonite is deeply cleansing and is said to have antibacterial properties that assist with skin healing.
“It has no preservatives, fragrances, or chemicals which is also great for sensitive skin,” says Dr. Graf. “It’s multi-use for the face or body and is known for purifying the pores, fighting acne, and even reducing the look of scars. I would recommend this mask over other affordable or drug-store sheet masks for sensitive or acne-prone skin.”
Price at time of publish: $15
Active Ingredients: Bentonite clay | Size: 1 pound | Benefits: Antibacterial and draws out impurities | Skin Type: Combination | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
L'Oréal Paris Pure-Clay Detox & Brighten Face Mask
Reduces shine and boosts radiance
Effectively softens the skin
Not ideal for sensitive skin
Packed with three types of clay (including kaolin, montmorillonite, and ghassoul), this hard-working drugstore mask is a nice weekly treatment for oily, congested skin. It helps to reduce shine, smooth the skin’s surface, and clean out the pores, not to mention immediately boosting radiance. It also contains added charcoal, an ingredient that can absorb dirt and excess sebum.
Price at time of publish: $13
Active Ingredients: Kaolin, montmorillonite and ghassoul clay, charcoal | Size: 1.7 ounces | Benefits: Captures deep impurities from the pores | Skin Type: Dull | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best for Dry Skin
Fresh Umbrian Clay Pore Purifying Face Mask
A little goes a long way
Multi-purpose: spot treater, purifier, and cleanser
Using Umbrian clay sourced from Italy, this mineral-rich mask is a favorite among Byrdie editors for its ability to soothe and calm a range of skin types. Umbrian clay is said to be packed with various minerals that work to promote a calm, clear complexion. Use it all over as a weekly treatment or to target spots and breakouts.
Price at time of publish: $56
Active Ingredients: Umbrian clay, sandalwood oil, chamomile, glycerin | Size: 3.3 ounces | Benefits: Cleanses, spot treats, and removes impurities | Skin Type: All | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best for Blackheads
Kiehl's Rare Earth Deep Pore Minimizing Cleansing Clay Mask
Hydrates the skin up to 24 hours
Leaves a clean feeling
Using fairly-sourced white clay from the Amazon, this gentle but hard-working mask leaves the skin feeling squeaky clean but not stripped (thanks to the creamy consistency and inclusion of hydrators like aloe vera). White clay also functions as a “gentle exfoliant” according to Dr. Graf, making this a useful pick for dull, congested, or breakout-prone skin.
Price at time of publish: $20
Active Ingredients: Amazonian white clay, aloe vera, glycerin | Size: 5 ounces | Benefits: Minimizes pores and blackheads instantly | Skin Type: All | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best for Sensitive Skin
Klur Supreme Seed Delicate Purification Mask
Gentle formula soothes and calms the skin
Clean, natural formula
Clay masks aren’t known for being the most gentle, which is why we recommend this soothing weekly treatment from Klur for those with more sensitive skin. Formulated to drive in nutrients while drawing out impurities, it relies on kaolin clay to gently purify and decongest clogged pores. Then, a soothing and balancing blend of panthenol (vitamin B5), calendula, and cacao comes in to calm, soothe, and reduce redness and irritation. The result? A clearer, smoother, and glowier complexion. Did we mention it smells absolutely delicious?
Price at time of publish: $60
Active Ingredients: Kaolin clay, cacao, vitamin B5 | Size: 2 ounces | Benefits: Purifies, soothes | Skin Type: All | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best for Acne-Prone Skin
Rosen Tingling Mud Mask
Controls sebum production while killing acne-causing bacteria
Tingles as it gets to work
Not ideal for sensitive skin
Zits and blemishes are no match for this mud mask, which counts on a blend of zinc oxide, bentonite clay, and tea tree oil to attack acne-causing bacteria and regulate sebum production within the skin. Also nice? You can feel your skin tingle as this hard-hitting formula gets to work.
Price at time of publish: $18
Active Ingredients: Zinc oxide, bentonite clay, tea tree oil | Size: 2 fluid ounces | Benefits: Purifies, kills acne-causing bacteria, controls sebum production | Skin Type: Oily, Acne-prone | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Dr. Barbara Sturm Face Mask
Hydrates the skin
Doesn't feel harsh
Purslane supports regeneration and hydration
Might break out acne-prone skin
Aesthetic medicine specialist, Dr. Barbara Sturm applied her knowledge of molecular science to create a line of effective skincare products that focus on reducing inflammation. The Face Mask combines aloe vera, vitamin E, and chamomile on a base of white kaolin clay to absorb excess shine while refining the look of pores. According to Byrdie Contributor Emily, the mask works best when you rub it off with your fingertips (as opposed to rinsing). The mini massage will leave you plump, smooth, and glowy.
Price at time of publish: $125
Active Ingredients: White kaolin clay, aloe vera, purslane, chamomile | Size: 1.69 ounces | Benefits: Calmly regenerates the skin | Skin Type: Normal, Dry, Combination, and Oily | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best for Hormonal Breakouts
Biba de Sousa Calming Sulfur and Zinc Mask
Even soothes insect bites
A bit hard to wash off
For Byrdie contributor Emily, Los Angeles esthetician Biba de Sousa’s sulfur mask is the best breakout treatment of all time. The mix of bentonite, zinc, and sulfur work to reduce redness, minimize shine, and calm swelling fast. Try it as a spot treatment or on the t-zone to rebalance shine.
Price at time of publish: $59
Active Ingredients: Sulfur, zinc, bentonite clay, witch hazel | Size: 1.97 ounces | Benefits: Works in minutes to purify pores, free skin of unwanted oil, and begin drying blemishes | Skin Type: Oily, Acne-Prone | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best for Large Pores
Philosophy Purity Made Simple Pore Extractor
Slightly messy to apply
Dealing with large pores around the t-zone? Philosophy’s Exfoliating Clay Mask is formulated to buff away congestion and refine the skin’s appearance thanks to a mix of kaolin, bentonite, salicylic acid, and diatomaceous earth.
“This nutrient-rich face mask from Philosophy works to draw out dirt, debris, and excess oil, reducing pore size and minimizing blackheads,” says Dr. Graf. Try it anywhere oil flow is more prominent such as the nose, chin, or cheeks.
Price at time of publish: $37
Active Ingredients: Kaolin clay, bentonite clay, salicylic acid, diatomaceous earth | Size: 2.5 fluid ounces | Benefits: Purifies pores and scrubs away blackheads | Skin Type: All | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Aspect Exfoliating Clay Mask
Exfoliates in a soothing way
Creamy, easy-to-apply texture
Reveals a radiant healthy-looking complexion
Not ideal for sensitive skin
“Kaolin and bentonite clays absorb excess oil and reduce impurities while alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids refine, tone, exfoliate, and remove the build-up of dirt from the skin,” explains Dr. Graf.
So if you want to simultaneously exfoliate, smooth, and decongest, Aspect’s hard-working clay mask formula is Dr. Graf’s number one choice.
Active Ingredients: Lactic acid, salicylic acid, bentonite clay, kaolin clay | Size: 3.9 ounces | Benefits: Restores clarity and refines skin | Skin Type: Oily, Problematic | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Biologique Recherche Masque Vivant
Not too intense for dry skin
Packed with amino acids
“I always recommend this purifying mask to oily, revitalized, or congested skin,” says Grant. “It's rich in lactic acid, fermented yeast, and probiotics to improve cellular turnover, smooth rough texture, and support the delicate acid mantle.”
While it does smell like Vegemite (thanks to the high concentration of yeast), this iconic exfoliating clay has countless celebrity fans, so trust us when we say the funky scent is worth the glowing results.
Price at time of publish: $115
Active Ingredients: Yeast, cucumber, witch hazel, bentonite, kaolin, lactic acid | Size: 3.4 fluid ounces | Benefits: Purifies, brightens, tones, and refreshes | Skin Type: Oily, Combination, Dull | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
With so many clay masks on the market, it’s difficult to just choose one. But if we had to play favorites, we’d call out Caudalie’s Instant Detox Mask alongside Biba de Sousa’s Calming Sulfur and Zinc Mask as our top picks. Both contain clay to cleanse the skin, plus other actives to reduce congestion and rebalance oil production. Our runner-up is Biologique Recherche Masque Vivant because it works quickly to transform sluggish, tired skin into something smooth, radiant, and clear.
What to Look For in a Clay Mask
According to Dr. Graf, the type of clay should be a determining factor when choosing a clay mask: “There are four different main types of clay that are used for skin health,” she explains. “Although all types of clay used in skin products are meant to draw out impurities and gently cleanse the skin, some are better than others for your skin type.”
"White clay works well with all skin types, especially mature skin, to draw out excess oils and dirt. It is a gentle exfoliant that will refine the surface of your skin and work to reduce pore size.” To note: Kaolin clay is a type of white clay.
"Green clay is the go-to for people with oily, acne-prone, or combination skin types. It balances pH levels while also acting as a strong cleanser. It soaks up excess oils that can lead to the clogging of pores and acne.”
"Pink clay can help to improve skin elasticity and cell renewal, which is also ideal for mature skin that has begun to lose its elasticity. Pink clay is a gentle exfoliant and very light on the skin.”
"Bentonite clay is an extremely efficient detoxing and rejuvenating clay that is suitable for many skin types, but especially oily and acne-prone. It lightly exfoliates and cleanses to draw out excess oils and impurities, restoring mineral levels, and removing toxins.”
What does a clay mask do?
“It thoroughly cleanses pores while lifting impurities to the surface and drying any existing blemishes," says Melanie Grant, facialist and celebrity esthetician. "If dull, congested, oily skin is normal for you, I recommend including clay within your regime.”
How do you use and remove a clay mask?
Grant suggests “painting your preferred clay mask onto the skin directly after cleansing. Leave on for 10 to 15 minutes and gently rinse away with warm water in gentle, circular motions.”
How often should you use a clay mask?
It comes down to the specific mask being used and your skin type, but once a week is probably a good benchmark. It’s important to remember that clay can be a powerful ingredient, so tread carefully.
Which type of clay is best to use?
While it varies from brand to brand, certain types of clay can be better suited to certain skin conditions (for example, bentonite is great for acne-prone skin). Your best bet is to check out other ingredients within the product to decide if it’s right for your complexion.
Why Trust Byrdie
Emily Algar is an experienced freelance writer who covers all things beauty. Her work has also appeared in Popsugar, Vogue Australia, Grazia, Cosmopolitan, and more.
Pazyar N, Yaghoobi R, Kazerouni A, Feily A. Oatmeal in dermatology: a brief review. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol. 2012;78(2):142-145. doi:10.4103/0378-6323.93629
Sanchez N, Fayne R, Burroway B. Charcoal: An ancient material with a new face. Clin Dermatol. 2020;38(2):262-264. doi:10.1016/j.clindermatol.2019.07.025