Natural skin care is having a moment right now and whether you’re looking to indulge in some self-care or fix a skin issue, face masks are the way to go.
Clay masks are an easy and natural skincare option for anyone looking to deeply cleanse their skin or target specific concerns, like acne.
It’s so simple to apply the clay onto your face and wash off after 10 minutes, but choosing the right mask for your skin - and the best clay mask - is where the difficulty lies.
Clay masks are available in a variety of different formulas and consistencies and the type of clay used will also determine the masks’ effectiveness—some will exfoliate, some will work to reduce redness and acne, others will nourish the skin.
What do clay masks do?
Clay masks help to detoxify the skin, while drawing out impurities and oils, which is why people with acne (including blackheads) or oily-prone skin swear by them. Clay masks also tighten skin, which is helpful for those with enlarged pores.
Speaking specifically about Sand & Sky (the Australian brand behind the cult Porefining Face Mask), co-founder Sarah Hamilton says, “Our Porefining Face Mask is a 4-in-1 formula that detoxifies, invigorates, refines and brightens the skin, thanks to some of the most effective native ingredients on the planet. Pink Australian Clay draws out impurities, toxins and pollutants, refines the pores, and deep cleanses the skin. Organic Liquorice and Old Man’s Weed help regenerate skin cells and remove pigmentation clusters. Organic Aloe Vera and Pomegranate shrink pores, soothe the skin and stimulate collagen production. Kakadu Plum, Kelp and Organic Mangosteen help prevent free radical damage and shield against pollution.”
Why are they popular?
Clay masks are a natural alternative to other acne medications. They have a low risk of side effects and are easy to purchase and apply. Some people see results as soon as the next day.
How to choose a clay mask based on the type of skin you have?
If you're looking to clear acne, look for a clay mask that contains bentonite clay, which is known for its ability to purify the skin and draw away oils, toxins and dirt that clog pores and cause acne.
Another example is red clay, which contains a great deal of iron oxide, an ingredient that boosts cell production to help skin rejuvenate faster. French green clay is also highly absorbent and has been said to strip away excess sebum, the natural oil that the skin produces. No matter which type of clay mask you choose, keep in mind that you may have to try more than one before you find the product that works best for your skin type.
Are there different types of clay masks?
Yes, while all clay masks hero their main ingredient: clay, it's good to keep an eye out for masks that include important ingredients, such as kaolin and/or bentonite, both of which draw out water and oil from your skin, which may temporarily make pores appear smaller."
Are there any risks or side effects?
Because clay masks are all natural, they have a low instance of side effects, however, depending on your skin type, you may experience some redness or mild irritation that should fade within 24 hours. Some clay masks contain benzyl alcohol, which can cause irritation for some skin types, bear this in mind if your skin doesn’t react well to alcohol.
Do they work for acne?
Yes. Clay masks are best suited to people with oily and acne-prone skin as they clean out pores and improve skin. Speaking specifically about Sand & Sky, Sarah says, "Our mask isn’t made specifically to remove acne—it’s for anyone who wants to deep cleanse and purify their skin, refine their pores, and have an immediate, gorgeous glow. However, many of our customers with acne or problem skin tell us that they have seen a huge improvement in their skin since using Sand & Sky."
Read on to see the 12 best clay masks on the market right now, what clay mask benefits are, and find out which is best for you.
12. Medik8 Natural Clay Mask, $59
Medik8’s natural clay mask is a perfect blend of bentonite and kaolin clay. 10 minutes is all you need for this mask to work its magic, removing oils and clearing out pores. The formula is enhanced by cranberry and vitamin E to leave your skin feeling hydrated.
11. Sukin Super Greens Detoxifying Clay Masque, $16.99
Perfect for those looking to detoxify and brighten their skin, this natural clay mask is full of vitamins and antioxidants that can do just that. Mixed with kale, goji berries, bentonite clay and a range of essential oils, this mask works to reduce redness and revive dull skin. Even better, can be used on any skin type.
10. Caudalie Purifying Mask, $47
Highly concentrated in plant ingredients and grape seed oil, this mask is ideal for anyone suffering with blemishes or acne. The formula is loaded with two types of clay that help draw out impurities, shrink your pores and remove dead skin cells – and it does this all without over drying your skin.
9. Endota Spa Charcoal Detox Mask, $40
Does your skin produce too much sebum? This mask might do the trick. Endota Spa’s Charcoal Detox mask contains argon oil to regulate the production of sebum, balancing out your oil levels. Argon oil doubles as a moisturizer to reduce dryness and helps repair your complexion.
8. Murad Clarifying Mask, $68
Murad’s natural clay-based mask is ideal for those prone to acne. Dermatologist developed, this mask absorbs excess oil on your skin and removes the dead skin cells that clog up your pores.
7. Kiehl’s Rare Earth Pore Cleansing Masque, $40
This is the ultimate mask for anyone with a normal or combination complexion. Its ingredients include Amazonian White Clay and Bentonite to cleanse and detox the skin, along with added aloe vera and oatmeal to soothe. Its sold in a large tub, meaning that it is the perfect long-term investment.
6. L’oreal Paris Pure Clay Mask, $19.99
The thick, grainy formula of this mask makes it an excellent exfoliator. Enriched with red algae and three types of clay – kaolin, montmorielleonite and ghassoul – L’oreal’s pure clay mask cleanses the skin and refines pores. Anyone with an oily T-zone may find a savior in this product.
5. Chantecaille Detox Clay Mask, $123
This mask sits in the high-end of skincare products but is the perfect salve for anyone with sensitive skin or those who use a lot of make-up products on their faces. The ingredients boast of hone and rosemary to nourish the skin and regulate sebum. A little goes a long way with this mask, so it’s worth the price tag.
4. Charlotte Tilbury Goddess-Skin Clay Mask, $76
It’s no surprise Charlotte Tilbury’s Goddess-Skin Clay mask is Gigi Hadid’s favourite face mask. Full of skin-loving ingredients such as Spanish clay, sweet almond and rosehip oil and frangipani extract, this product is designed to soak up impurities and pore build up. Moreover, it doesn’t leave your skin feeling dry or tight, which is a rare feat for clay masks.
3. Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask, $49
This gentle, purifying mask can be used on all skin types but is ideal for reducing oils on the skin. Bamboo charcoal is an active ingredient used to detoxify while honey works to moisturise and balance out any dryness caused by the clay.
2. The Body Shop Tea Tree Skin Clearing Clay Mask, $25
Tea tree is proven to help clear skin, making the Body Shop’s Tea Tree Skin Clearing Clay Mask the perfect antidote for those prone to acne or blemished complexions. Be careful not to leave it on for longer than the recommended time, as tea tree can dry out the skin if overused. Follow with a good moisturizer to get the best results.
1. Sand & Sky Australian Pink Clay Porefining Face Mask, $69.90
This 4-in-1 treatment takes out the top spot as the ultimate clay mask. The Australian brand has created a product suitable for almost all skin types and is full of enriching ingredients – Kaolin clay, aloe vera and vitamin A. The mask promises to tighten pores, boost radiance and protect your skin against damage. The insta-worthy product is in such high demand – over 60,000 jars were sold in the first 12 weeks with people's before-and-after results going viral. It pays to note that this product contains benzyl alcohol, which can cause irritation for some skin types, bear this in mind if your skin doesn’t react well to alcohol.