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There’s a reason mud-masking has been around for centuries. Vitamin and mineral-rich, good-for-you earth is just about the best thing you can slather on your skin. While we know clay absorbs impurities and oils, it also offers a myriad of other benefits that be can tailored towards specific skin types. You might think this too good to be true—don’t clays only work best for oily or acne-prone complexions? We’re happy to break this to you: you’re wrong. Different varieties can unclog pores, decrease sebum, soothe redness and irritation, and even offer anti-aging benefits. Read on to find the top clay mask for you.
Best Overall: Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay
Have you heard of this cult-favorite beauty item? This 100% natural Bentonite clay is derived from volcanic ash, making it rich in minerals. It comes in powder form in a big tub and only a few teaspoonfuls are needed to make an effective mask. It’s highly recommended to mix with apple cider vinegar, which reacts well with the powder clay and essentially turns it into a sponge that absorbs any excess oil and sucks out all impurities. Start with a teaspoon or two of powder and add a teaspoon of ACV and mix well. Leave on the mixture for 5-15 minutes—depending on your skin’s tolerance—and then rinse off with warm water. The result? A brighter and tighter canvas. Because the clay is so potent, it’s recommended to use this mask as a deep treatment once or twice a week when you need a major boost.
Best for Sensitive Skin: Origins Original Skin™ Retexturizing Mask
A milder clay, pink clay is a combination of red and white clay, and is ideal for fussy skin. The microfine powder is a super gentle polisher without tugging on dragging on delicate skin. Apart from it’s fun millennial pink shade, the mask itself is infused with exfoliating jojoba beads and Canadian willowherb, a natural skin soother. After use, skin feels more even and pores look smaller. Apply all over the face, avoiding the eye area, and let it work its magic for ten minutes.
Best for Acne-Prone Skin: Kiehl’s Rare Earth Deep Pore Cleansing Mask
Amazonian white clay is the star ingredient in this creamy, powerful face mask. Fairly sourced from the Amazon river, this light clay really dives deep into pores to clean them out. Say goodbye to sebum and dead skin as the product works as a mild exfoliant to remove toxins, dirt, and dry skin cells. Although the formula works well with all skin types, it’s especially useful for acne-prone skin as it gets rid of impurities that can clog pores and cause blemishes. However, this clay isn’t drying thanks to the inclusion of aloe, which majorly hydrates and calms irritated skin.
Best for Rough Skin: L'Oréal Pure Clay Mask Clarify & Smooth
The best treat after a long day: a velvety mud mask made up of three skin-saving clays. Yellow kaolin clay, Morroccan lava clay, and montmorillonite clay come together like an all-star team to buff your skin’s surface for a more even and smooth texture. Roughness and imperfections are a thing of the past as yellow kaolin clay purges outside forces, like pollution, out of your skin. Its absorption of impurities is a bit stronger than white kaolin clay, but it’s not harsh.
Best for Oily Skin: bareMinerals Clay Chameleon Transforming Purifying Cleanser
Out of all the clays, red kaolin clay has the highest absorption power, so if greasiness and slickness is your primary issue, this is the mud mask for you. Like the other clays, it extracts dirt and toxins, except red kaolin clay actually deeply penetrates into the epidermal layer for an intense cleansing. Sea salt exfoliates the outer surface while mineral-rich papaya extract rejuvenates and uplifts. Red clay is also a great anti-inflammatory, alleviating redness and irritation.
Best for Detoxifying: Fresh Umbrian Clay Pore Purifying Face Mask
There’s a (not so) well-kept secret hidden in Umbria, Italy: their clay. Touted as their beauty miracle, Umbrian clay is considered a purifying powerhouse. It all starts in Umbria, where it’s rumored the waters have healing powers and travels through their mineral-rich earth where they transform into the ultimate beauty must-have. Revel in a total detox with Umbrian clay, chamomile, and sandalwood oil. Pores are minimized, blemishes are reduced, and skin becomes balanced. In a clinical test, 94% of users reported their skin felt softer and more supple after use.
Best for Dry/Mature Skin: Herbivore Botanicals Pink Clay Facial Mask
And the obsession with rose-colored clay (happily) continues. This time, French pink clay makes an appearance in an intense anti-aging mud powder. It banishes fine lines and improves skin’s elasticity due to its iron oxide and silica. The scent is relaxing—we smell you, rosehip—making this a lovely sensorial experience. As wonderful as it smells, rosehip is also a major anti-ager, preventing further wrinkles with its trans-retinoic acid. Take a tablespoon of powder and mix with a few drops of water to create a creamy texture, then apply all over the face. Once dry, rinse off.
Best Innovation: Olay Pore Detox Black Charcoal Clay Face Mask Stick
If there’s one downfall to mud masks, it’s the mess. This handy, convenient stick solves all of that. Charcoal and kaolin clay partner up in this mask stick to zap pore-clogging excess oils and exfoliate dead skin. Don’t worry about over-drying, the formula leaves skin feeling well-hydrated and plump after application. Apply the mask to clean, dry skin and leave it on for at least ten minutes. While rinsing the product off, massage it into the skin for full absorption.
Our writers spent 10 hours researching the most popular clay masks on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 8 different clay masks overall, screened options from 8 different brands and manufacturers, read over 4 user reviews (both positive and negative) and tested 6 of the clay masks themselves. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.