Yes, they may look a little silly, yes you’ll have a hard time moving your face for about ten minutes, but wow, are clay masks ever effective! Although cleansers and scrubs do a great job of removing the dirt and oil from skin, absolutely nothing gets the gunk out like a great clay mask.
With that in mind, in this article we’ll discuss different kinds of clay masks, the benefits of clay masks, what types of skin should use clay masks, how to use clay masks, which clay masks you should use, and what ingredients to avoid in clay masks.
How Clay Masks Work and Why They're Worth Using
Clay masks are a little like getting your teeth cleaned at the dentist from time to time. Yes, you brush your teeth twice a day, every day, but once or twice a year, you probably get a good dental cleaning where they really, really scrape your teeth clean.
That’s basically what using a clay mask is like—it’s a supplement to your daily skin care routine that helps keep your skin looking its absolute best by drawing out all the impurities on a deeper level.
What Do Clay Masks Do for Skin: 10 Benefits of Clay Masks
As we said above, clay masks are a lot like a sort of deep cleaning for the skin but that’s far from all they do! Here are 10 Benefits of Clay Masks you should know about:
- Clay masks cleanse the skin – Although you should definitely cleanse your skin before using any kind of mask, one thing clay masks really do well is cleanse the skin of dirt and oil. You can almost feel your skin getting cleaner as you wash it off!
- Clay masks balance oils – Clay masks are known for their ability to almost instantly draw out and balance the oils in skin, creating the appearance of a brighter, smoother complexion.
- Clay masks unclog pores – If you’ve ever used a clay mask you probably know that they can feel as if someone has taken the hose of an enormous suction machine up to your skin and pulled out all the dirt and oil lurking in your pores. That’s probably because that’s more or less what clay masks do—get in each little pore and dig out all the dirt and oil.
- Clay masks detoxify the skin – Imagine taking a white sponge, tightly squeezing all the water out of it, and then immersing it in a bowl of blue water. The sponge would quickly become blue, having absorbed all the blue water. That’s how clay masks work. They expand when they hit the skin, absorbing toxins in your skin. When you wash it off, the mask basically pulls the toxins out with it.
- Clay masks smooth the skin – If your skin isn’t as smooth as you’d like it to be, try a clay mask. Clay masks act as a sort of skin polisher, leaving even difficult skin smooth and even.
- Clay masks exfoliate – One of the best ways to keep your skin healthy is to make sure you’re exfoliating it which basically means sloughing the dead skin off. Clay masks do that almost better than anything which is why it’s so important to use one a couple of times a week.
- Clay masks leave a natural glow – We know there are all kinds of highlighters and strobing kits out there, but if you really want to make your skin shine, use a clay mask. When that top layer is sloughed off, it really brings out the glow in your skin.
- Clay masks prepare the skin for moisturizer – Moisturizer is an incredibly important part of skin care but it’s only effective if it’s applied to exfoliated skin. Clay masks exfoliate like nobody’s business so be sure to slather on the moisturizer after you’ve washed off your mask!
- Clay masks help maintain great skin – You may keep your house clean on a daily basis by putting away the dishes, making the beds, and maybe sweeping the floors, but if you’re like most people, about once or twice a year, you do a big, big clean up—going over the floorboards, washing the curtains, and maybe even purging a closet or two. That’s kind of like what clay masks do—they give your skin a really good, extra thorough clean out so you can really maintain the look of your skin. And if you don’t do that? Well, think about what would happen if you never cleaned your curtains or dusted the floorboards—you’d be living in a house that wasn’t as clean as it could be.
- Clay masks are a great treat – Skin care doesn’t always have to be about improving the look of your skin—sometimes, skin care is just meant to make you feel great and nothing makes you feel more refreshed or revitalized than a great clay mask. They’re a great way to make you feel as if you’ve just stepped out of the spa!
What Skin Types Should Use Clay Masks?
One of the best parts of clay masks is that they have a purpose for just about every skin type! Here are some of the skin types that should consider using clay masks!
- Clay masks are great for oily skin – Clay masks help balance the oils in skin which is something people with oily skin often struggle with.
- Clay masks are great for dry skin – Although people with dry skin might want to use a clay mask a little less often than those with oily skin, clay masks are great for people with dry skin because by exfoliating the skin, a clay mask allows moisturizer to really do its job.
- Clay masks are great for dull skin – If you suffer from dull, lifeless skin, a good clay mask is life-changing. OK, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but a clay mask really makes the skin glow!
- Clay masks are great for skin that clogs easily – If you’re wondering if this is the same thing as people with oily skin, it’s not. Many people with dry skin suffer from very, very clogged pores and nothing will help solve that problem like a good clay mask which will help draw out all that dirt and oil!
- Clay masks are great for skin that sweats a lot – Are you a bunhead? A gym rat? A kickboxing bunny? (Sorry, we’re not sure if there’s a nickname for someone who kickboxes a lot!) If you are, you probably know that all that sweating can be really rough on the skin. A clay mask can draw out all the impurities and detox skin that gets worked out a lot.
What is Bentonite Clay?
Next time you’re in Fort Benton, Wyoming, look around and see if you think everyone’s skin looks exceptionally good—seriously! Bentonite clay, which is used in many clay masks as well as other cosmetics, comes from Fort Benton (thus its name!). Derived from volcanic ash, it contains all kinds of great things like calcium, iron, and magnesium and is great for clearing the skin of excess oil and dirt.
Benefits of Bentonite Clay
To understand the benefits of bentonite clay, think of it as a kind of magnet—once you put it on the skin, it basically sticks to the bad stuff and pulls it out as you wash it off, getting rid of all those impurities and well, general gunk. Bentonite clay really unclogs those pores, leaving skin appearing luminous!
In addition to just getting all the oily dirt out of your skin, one benefit of bentonite clay is that it helps balance the natural oils in your skin, which creates the appearance of a brighter, smoother complexion.
Another benefit of bentonite clay is that it pulls toxins from your skin. This is probably why many beauty experts and influencers call it one of the beauty world’s best kept secrets.
Keep in mind that if you purchase bentonite clay with the intention of using it on your skin, you’ll most likely have to combine it with something like apple cider vinegar. Since that’s slightly laborious, we’ve included it as an ingredient in our Prince Charcoal natural detox mask!
What is Kaolin Clay?
Although kaolin clay can be found around the world from Pakistan to France to Tanzania, the town of Sandersville, Georgia is so proud of their supply of it, that they even host a kaolin festival every year! While we have yet to have the privilege of experiencing the festival, what we can vouch for are all the incredible benefits of kaolin clay for skin.
Known as china clay, it was used thousands of years ago in the manufacture of porcelain. Today, it’s used as an effective ingredient in skin masks. A clay mineral composed mostly of silica, kaolin clay is not quite as strong in terms of absorption as bentonite clay. Also, while kaolin clay is classified as clay, bentonite, is technically a kind of mineral.
Benefits of Kaolin Clay
One of the most popular benefits of kaolin clay is its ability to exfoliate the skin, helping to remove build up from the surface of the skin.
It also absorbs oil. Although its absorption powers aren’t quite as strong as bentonite clay, kaolin is still a great oil absorber! Just like bentonite clay, kaolin digs out the skin’s dirt and impurities to renew the look of beautiful skin.
It’s also great at unclogging pores to give your skin the appearance you desire. Many also love it for its calming effect on the skin, and its ability to even out skin tone.
What Ingredients to Avoid in Clay Masks
As always, you want to avoid harsh synthetic and chemical ingredients like parabens, sulfates, and artificial fragrances (not to keep harping on Prince Charcoal, but it has a lovely, soft flowery scent from natural ingredients!).
How to Use a Clay Mask
If you’ve never used a clay mask before it can be a little tricky. In addition to the fact that it dries quickly once on the face (and can get a little messy if you’re not careful), it needs to go on skin that’s prepared correctly and should be followed up with the right steps. Here’s how to use a clay mask to maximize its effectiveness
1. Cleanse the skin. Yes, clay masks do a great job of getting all the dirt and oil out of skin, but you still need to make sure your face is clean before applying. Putting a clay mask on a dirty face is like using a mop before you’ve swept so clean the skin with a gentle natural facial cleanser.
2. Apply your clay mask. Now that your skin is clean, go ahead and apply a mask like our Prince Charcoal Natural Detox Mask. Just take a little bit on the tip of your fingers and smooth over the skin, avoiding the immediate eye area (but still getting around the eyes!) and spreading evenly over the skin. Give it about 8-10 minutes to dry (so check Instagram, text a friend, or think about what to pick up for dinner while you wait!).
If you prefer, you can use a brush or even a mask applicator to make sure you apply evenly.
Once it’s dry, simply rinse off with warm water. Unlike a lot of clay masks, ours dries, but doesn’t feel hard on the skin and is easy to rinse off so you won’t get that “I can’t move my face!” feeling.
We recommend using it about one-to-three times a week, but if you don’t have sensitive skin, or your skin tends to be oily, you can definitely use it more often. It’s especially great to use before you go out since it will give your skin a glow and will help your make-up go on more easily.
3. Hydrate your skin - A clay mask will help prep your skin to allow it to absorb moisture, so be sure to follow up with a good serum and then a moisturizer!
Frequently asked questions about clay masks.
Do clay masks work?
The short answer: like a champ! Nothing is better for getting all the dirt, oil, and impurities from your skin!
What are clay masks good for?
Clay masks are great for getting out all the dirt and oil that regular cleansing just can’t. Think of clay masks as a big suction device for your face!
Clay masks are also great for balancing oils, smoothing the skin, giving skin a glow, and preparing the skin for moisturizer or make-up!
Are clay masks safe?
Yes, clay masks are completely safe for the skin. That said, all skins are a little different so a patch test is always a good idea before you use any product all over your face.
Clay mask vs. charcoal face mask?
It’s hard to say without knowing exactly which masks you’re comparing, but generally speaking, clay masks are for removing impurities and smoothing out skin and combatting temporary skin discomfort.
Charcoal masks not only draw out impurities, but toxins.
So, that’s the 411 on clay masks! We know they’ll render you speechless for a bit (like, literally speechless), but take our word that they’re well worth it! Just ask the people of Fort Benton!