Are Clay Masks Harmful?

Our love for clay face masks goes way, way back (fun fact: Queen Cleopatra used Dead Sea mud to deep clean her skin), and thanks to their neverending benefits—including being perfect for #maskselfies—our relationship with clay masks remains strong.

There are clay mask benefits for every age and skin type, detoxifying pores and absorbing oils to fighting acne. 

There is a lot of misinformation on the internet about how clay masks are harmful to your skin.

There are a ton of clay mask benefits for everyone!

Different types can detoxify pores, fight acne, and heal various skin conditions. You'll find many clays in products too—each with their own color or texture to suit your needs.

Bentonite Clay is made from volcanic ash (pretty cool!) It's great at absorbing oils while fighting acne, it also has healing properties when dealing with delicate skin issues like eczema or psoriasis.

Benefits of bentonite clay here.

What Are Clay Masks Made Of?

There are so many types of clay masks—each with its colour, texture, mineral composition, and benefits.

A few popular ones you'll find are bentonite clay, kaolin clay, and French green clay.

Bentonite clay is made from volcanic ash (cool, right?) and is excellent for most skin types, especially oily and acne-prone.

Kaolin clay is one of the mildest (and it's often pink!), and it's perfect for sensitive skin types. French green clay can have anti-aging benefits, plus it helps reduce inflammation and boost circulation. Now that you're up to speed, let's dive into the benefits of adding a clay face mask to your skincare routine.

volcanic ash face mask

One of the biggest trends in beauty over the last couple of years is undoubtedly the rise of clay masks. Clay masks do indeed help to clear your skin out. Many types of clay do have a fantastic ability to pull dirt and grease from your pores and out of your skin.

But, clay doesn't discriminate.

When clay pulls dirt from your skin, it removes your skin's regular oils - the natural moisturizing factors that keep your skin nourished and bouncy.

If you've ever used a clay mask and gotten that tight, itchy feeling as it dries, I'm here to tell you that this is the mask sucking up all your natural moisture.

Of course, when your skin is devoid of it's natural oils, it then goes into overproduction mode. For many people, your skin will then try to repair itself and produce more oil to compensate for what it just lost - this can trigger breakouts. The opposite of what you were hoping for with your clay mask.

Another thing to know, since clay pulls impurities to the surface, it can encourage any spots or pimples to come to the surface early. While this is not necessarily a bad thing - they were going to come up anyway - it means that a clay mask right before an event is probably not a good idea lest you end up with a whole bunch of early-surfaced spots right when you needed to look your best.

Does This Mean You Should Toss Your Clay Masks in the Bin?

No, don't do that.

There's still loads of benefits to clay. Many types of clay are filled with minerals and have been shown to have excellent treatment and antibacterial properties. And when clay pulls oil from your skin, it can also remove nasty toxins and pollutants - so it has its pros.

What you should consider before you jump straight in is your skin type. And then the kind of clay you're using. If you have oily, acne-prone skin, then clay masks could be a great product to use to clear out congestion and fight bacteria occasionally. If you have dehydrated skin, they might cause more problems than they solve. Also, some types of clay are gentler than others. Always read the ingredients to see which clay is in your mask.

It's a Magnet for the Bad Stuff

Your skin meets dirt, oils, and bacteria daily—and while exfoliating is essential to clearing them away, adding a clay mask to your skincare routine a few times a week can get really up the ante.

Quick science lesson:

Clay masks are made from negatively-charged molecules, and most toxins are made of positively charged molecules.

This means that clay mask molecules bind themselves to toxins deep in your pores, bring them to the surface, and lift them away. When you use clay masks regularly, clogged pores won't stand a chance.

Pro Tip:

"Clay needs to come in physical contact with impurities to soak them up, so the longer a product sits on your skin, the more effective it's going to be," says Dr Engelman.

"However, that doesn't mean to leave it on for 24 hours. Stick to the product's recommended time, or when you start to feel tightness from the mask."

lady applying detoxifying face mask


It Brightens You up Overall

One clay mask benefit we can all get behind: glowing skin. When dead skin cells pile up on your skin's surface, it can give your complexion a dull, uneven appearance.

Clay masks remove dead skin cells and keep them from accumulating in the first place. The result? An even and brighter complexion and a smoother surface for makeup application.

Many of us are concerned about the environmental impact that our beauty products have on our planet.

The average woman uses 12 personal care products a day, which is more than 100 bottles per year! These plastic bottles are usually tossed into landfills or worse, oceans after being used only once.

OVI Detoxifying Clay Mask and Volcanic Ash Facial Mask help you cleanse your skin without polluting the environment with harmful chemicals and plastics. Our natural clay mask absorbs oil while tightening pores to prevent breakouts before they happen.

We use volcanic ash in our facial cleanser because it’s rich in minerals such as silica, iron oxide, potassium oxide and calcium oxide which helps tighten pores and remove impurities for clearer skin.

Our ingredients were carefully chosen by experts who know what works best for your skin type so you can feel good while looking great!

Pro Tip: Want to up your glow? "Look for a mask with clay and a chemical exfoliant, such as lactic acid. This will help clarify your skin and gently remove dead skin cells, resulting in a brighter complexion," Dr Engelman says.

We suggest: For a mask that clears your pores and gets you glowing, try OVI Deep Cleansing Face Mask—this mineral-rich, age-defying Volcanic Ash facial mask gently absorbs oil, helping to reduce large-sized pores and eliminate built-up impurities leaving tired and stressed skin feeling energetic, vibrant and whole again.

OVI is a powerful raw detoxifier & cleanser made for stressed and sensitive skin with natural oils and rich nutrients found from volcanic islands worldwide.

It's a Great Acne Fighter

With breakouts come redness, irritation, and a healthy dose of frustration. Applying a clay mask to new flights is not only super soothing and satisfying, but it can also help remove acne-causing bacteria to get them under control.

As it detoxifies your pores, a clay mask eliminates bacteria to prevent future breakouts while clearing it from your skin's surface to prevent it from entering. Whether you've got acne-prone skin or battled the occasional blemish, clay masks can help you see more apparent skin days ahead.

It Balances Oils

While clay masks can benefit every skin type, they're super helpful for oily skin thanks to their oil-absorbing powers.

All clay masks nix shine, but ones made with kaolin clay or white clay are extra gentle (great if your skin's on the sensitive side).

Like everything, practice restraint.

Absorbing too much oil can cause your skin to overcompensate, kicking your skin's sebum production into overdrive (cue: vicious cycle). 

Pro tip: Got oily or combination skin? Dr Engelman suggests multitasking or using a clay mask where you need it. "I like focusing on the T-zone and avoiding dry areas such as the apples of your cheeks or areas with thin skin like lips and around the eye."

It Boosts Circulation

Clay masks, especially ones made with bentonite clay (one of the most popular types), can help boost blood circulation beneath your skin, and oxygen circulation to your skin cells. This allows your skin to heal and regenerate, improves collagen production, and gives it a brighter, more youthful appearance.

It Refines Pores for Smoother Skin

Pores—everyone's got them, we'd love to embrace them, but sometimes they can appear more prominent than usual (especially when they're clogged), which can make your skin feel less smooth.

One clay mask benefit we love is clay's ability to tone up your pores and refine them. The result? Smoother, softer texture and more even skin tone. 

Bonus: Applying foundation after a clay mask means it'll blend like a dream.

It's Easy to Apply & Remove

applying clay mask

There's a reason clay masks are probably one of the first we tried as tweens—they're some of the simplest to use (and come in enjoyable colours, tbh). Just start with clean skin, smooth it on all over, enjoy your Insta-scroll, and remove it once it's dry. 

Pro Tip: "To remove clay masks, use a wet towel soaked with warm water, followed by an oil-based cleanser to remove any residue," says Dr Engelman. "Finish with a hydrating moisturizer to avoid overproduction of oil."

The critical thing to remember is to not leave your mask on for too long. The longer you leave it on, the more oil it will draw from your skin.

It's best to wash it off before it dries entirely and strips your skin of all its sebum.

You can also consider only putting the mask in the areas that you're oiliest, like your t-zone.

Clay Face Mask Mistakes You Might Be Making

Clay has long been used for its medicinal properties, in particular when it comes to skincare.

Clay masks are easy to apply and a simple way to naturally rejuvenate your skin. However, several myths still surround clay face masks. We take a look at the most common misunderstandings so that you can get the most out of your clay face mask.

skin tightening face mask

Mistake 1: Not Choosing the Right Clay for Your Skin Type

What does a clay face mask do for your skin? Clay is a general term for various natural mineral compositions, and each type of clay has different properties – meaning they each suit different skin types and concerns to promote skin health.

White clay is a fine-grained gentle purifier that reduces excess oil without drying the skin (great for sensitive and dry skin).

In contrast, green clay has more powerful absorption properties, making it suitable for oily skin types. Charcoal - almost pure carbon, so, not a clay - is reputed for its ability to draw out impurities and toxins.

Mistake 2: Not Doing a Patch Test

Even though the Kaolin clay in the Cleansing Face Mask is dermatologist tested to be hypoallergenic and non-irritating, everyone's skin may have a different reaction, even to natural ingredients!

Like with every new skincare product you try, always do a patch test for skin irritation on a small clean surface of your skin. Its key benefits are:

  • Detoxify, tighten and brighten your skin.
  • Vegan & cruelty-free.
  • Remove impurities built up in pores.
  • Natural detoxifier & cleanser.
  • Assists in spot reducing pimples.

We recommend doing a patch test of our clay mask on your chin, leaving it on until dry, and removing it to ensure you don't have any adverse reactions.

Note that a mild tingling sensation can be expected due to the osmotic action of the clay.    

Mistake 3: Leaving Your Clay Face Mask on for Over Ten Minutes

Is it wrong to wear a clay face mask for too long? Clay face masks permeate the skin to soak up excess oil (absorption) while also attracting and binding impurities (adsorption).

However, this also means that clay face masks can end up drying out the skin if left on for too long.

Instead of waiting for your clay face mask to dry out entirely, it's better to leave it on for no more than ten minutes – as recommended for OVI Deep Cleansing Face Mask.

If you wonder what you do after a clay mask and if your skin feels dry or tight after removing a clay mask, follow with a soothing hyaluronic acid face moisturizer to rehydrate.

Mistake 4: Not Shaking the Product Before Use

For clays that are naturally wet rather than coming in powder forms like other clays such as Kaolin or Bentonite should be shaken well before use.

Natural water separation can occur if your glacial clay mask sits too long on the counter.

To maximize the benefits of a glacial clay mask, we recommend shaking, shake, shake, shake, shake, well before use. (We mean the product, not yourself!)

Mistake 5: All-Over Clay Mask Application

Different areas of the face have additional requirements. You might have an oily T-zone, for example, but dry skin around the cheeks.

Applying the same clay face mask everywhere won't necessarily help treat the different concerns and aggravate the skin.

Instead, opt for targeted application or multi-masking. This means limiting your mask to the affected areas or using different shows on different areas of your face.

Mistake 6: Applying a Clay Mask While You're in a Rush

From start to finish, give yourself at least twenty minutes for a clay mask routine.

Depending on the surface area of your skin and how thick you've applied the product, our clay mask should take 10 to 15 minutes to dry before you remove it with warm water fully.

As a visual indication, the wet, dark green clay should turn into a light turquoise colour when it is dry.

Don't forget to leave time to cleanse your skin (or shower!) before applying the mask, as well as time to moisturize after removal.  

Mistake 7: Applying the Clay Mask Before You Shower

As much as we'd love to step into the shower to wash off that clay mask, we recommend applying our clay mask after you shower. Why? The natural steaming properties of being in the rain will help open up your pores, allowing our clay mask to draw out the impurities from your skin even more effectively.

Mistake 8: Not Using Clean Tools to Apply Your Face Mask

Brush tools can often harbour bacteria and other gross germs we don't want anywhere near our skin. We recommend using clean fingers or a new brush to apply your mask.

Mistake 9: Rubbing in the Clay Mask

The clay mask should sit on top of your skin; the natural osmotic properties of the clay will naturally draw out any skin impurities to the surface.

There's no need to rub in a clay mask like you would with a moisturizer.

Mistake 10: Using a Clay Mask as Your Only Skincare Product

Masking should only be one small part of your skincare regime; a clay mask is not a replacement for toner, cleanser, or moisturizer.

Be sure to cleanse your skin before applying our clay mask and tone and moisturize after removal.

Mistake 11: Over-Masking

If you mask too often with a clay product, there may be adverse effects of drying out your skin.

As a rule of thumb, we recommend hiding 2-3 times per week for oily skin, 1-2 times per week for normal-to-dry skin, and spot treatment as required for best results.

Mistake 12: Using an Expired Product

Most cosmetic products should be used within six months of opening. Some face or clay mask products' shelf-life are stable for up to three years.

Any longer than that, and we recommend replacing with a new product. Most of the time, however, we could love the products so much, it never gets to the point where we have to toss it out--unless it's an empty package!

Mistake 13: Not Having Fun

We know masking looks silly -- how often do we as adults get to put on a strange green goop on our skin and call it self care?

Let's have fun with it. Put on your favourite shower cap, mask together with a friend, take a silly selfie! Do whatever it is to make your clay mask experience fun.   

Conclusion

To sum up? Clay face masks can be great for removing impurities from your pores, but it's essential to make sure you're using them the right way!

Clay masks are a great way to detoxify your skin. They help remove impurities from the pores and tighten up the skin.

The ingredients in clay masks can also help with acne, eczema, and psoriasis. Clay masks are inexpensive and easy to make at home.

There's no need for harsh chemicals or expensive treatments when you have a clay mask!

Clay masks work well on all types of skin - oily, dry, sensitive - so there is something for everyone!

If you're looking for the best detoxifying face mask that doesn't cost an arm and leg or leave your house smelling like chemicals gone wrong, try out one of these recipes below today!