The Best Clay Masks That Your Skin Will Love

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The 16 Best Clay Masks, Tested by Byrdie

Byrdie / Chloe Jeong

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

  • Dr. Jeannette Graf is a Board-Certified Dermatologist and Assistant Clinical Professor of Dermatology at Mt Sinai School of Medicine. 
  •  Melanie Grant is an esthetician, facialist, skin expert, and the founder of Melanie Grant Skin Health, a clinic with outposts in Sydney, Melbourne, and Los Angeles.

Keep reading to find the best clay masks available.

Best for Overall: Innisfree Pore Clearing Clay Mask 2X

5
Innisfree Volcanic Clay Cluster Mask

 Courtesy of Sephora

What We Like
  • Gentle

  • Exfoliates

  • Makes the skin feel fresh

What We Don’t Like
  • 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. 

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

innisfree super volcanic clusters pore clearing clay mask

Byrdie / Bianca Lambert

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 Instant Detox Mask

Caudalie Instant Detox Mask

 Courtesy of Macy's

What We Like
  • Works quickly in 10 minutes

  • Hydrates the skin

  • Adds radiance

What We Don’t Like
  • 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. 

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

Best Budget: Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay

4.6
Aztec Secret – Indian Healing Clay
What We Like
  • Only one ingredient

  • Affordable

  • Antibacterial

What We Don’t Like
  • 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.”

Active Ingredients: Bentonite clay | Size: 1 pound | Benefits: Antibacterial and draws out impurities | Skin Type: Combination | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay

Byrdie / Bianca Lambert

Best Drugstore: L'Oréal Paris Pure-Clay Detox & Brighten Face Mask

L'Oréal Pure Clay Detox Mask
What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Reduces shine and boosts radiance

  • Effectively softens the skin

What We Don’t Like
  • 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.

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 Mask

4
fresh umbrian clay mask

Courtesy of Sephora 

What We Like
  • A little goes a long way

  • Reusable packaging

  • Multi-purpose: spot treater, purifier, and cleanser

What We Don’t Like
  • Pricey

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. 

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

Fresh Umbrian Clay Pore Purifying Face Mask

Byrdie / Bianca Lambert

Best for Blackheads: Kiehl's Rare Earth Deep Pore Minimizing Cleansing Clay Mask

Kiehl’s Rare Earth Deep Pore Cleansing Mask

 Courtesy of Kiehl's

What We Like
  • Gently exfoliates

  • Hydrates the skin up to 24 hours

  • Leaves a clean feeling

What We Don’t Like
  • Pricey

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. 

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

KLUR Supreme Seed Delicate Purification Mask

Courtesy of Klur

What We Like
  • Gentle formula soothes and calms the skin

  • Clean, natural formula

  • Smells good

What We Don’t Like
  • Pricey

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?

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

Rosen Tingling Mud Mask

Courtesy of Nordstrom

What We Like
  • Controls sebum production while killing acne-causing bacteria

  • Clean formula

  • Tingles as it gets to work

What We Don't Like
  • 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. 

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

Best Splurge: Dr. Barbara Sturm Face Mask

barbara-sturm-face-mask

Courtesy of SpaceNK

What We Like
  • Hydrates the skin

  • Doesn't feel harsh

  • Purslane supports regeneration and hydration

What We Don’t Like
  • 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.

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

Biba de Sousa Calming Sulfur and Zinc Mask

Biba Los Angeles

What We Like
  • Calms inflammation

  • Esthetician-developed

  • Even soothes insect bites

What We Don’t Like
  • 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. 

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

Philosophy Purity Made Simple Pore Extractor Exfoliating Clay Mask

 Courtesy of Nordstrom

What We Like
  • Exfoliates blackheads

  • Minimizes pores

  • Balances skin

  • Non-greasy

What We Don’t Like
  • Contains fragrance

  • 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. 

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

Best Exfoliating: Aspect Exfoliating Clay Mask

Aspect Exfoliating Clay Mask

Aspect Skincare

What We Like
  • Exfoliates in a soothing way

  • Creamy, easy-to-apply texture

  • Reveals a radiant healthy-looking complexion

What We Don’t Like
  • 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

Best Brightening: Biologique Recherche Masque Vivant

Biologique Recherche Masque Vivant

 Courtesy of Rescue Spa

What We Like
  • Boosts radiance

  • Not too intense for dry skin

  • Decongests skin

  • Packed with amino acids

What We Don’t Like
  • Pricey

  • Weird smell

“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. 

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

Final Verdict

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

"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

"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

"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

"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.”

FAQ
  • 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.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
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  2. Sanchez N, Fayne R, Burroway B. Charcoal: An ancient material with a new faceClin Dermatol. 2020;38(2):262-264. doi:10.1016/j.clindermatol.2019.07.025

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