Aztec Clay Face Mask Review: A quick detox for oily skin, on the cheap

This jar of 100% bentonite clay can be mixed with water or apple cider vinegar to combat acne.

A few years ago, I bought a tub of Aztec Clay, because I heard it was great for fighting acne. Every now and then, when I feel like going into detox mode, I pull it off the shelf and mix up a clay mask for myself. If you look at the jar, you’ll see that the marketing copy is reminiscent of Dr. Bronner’s Castille Soap—it’s unapologetically wordy and boastful about itself. The long name for this product is: Aztec Secret: Indian Healing Clay. If you have acne, you’ve probably heard about this product by now, but you may be wondering: Just how good is this mask?

Aztec Clay Face Mask Review

Aztec Clay Mask review

I don’t need a normal “ingredients” section for this review because, despite all of its flowery marketing copy, Aztec Clay Mask’s ingredient list is undeniably simple: “100% Natural Calcium Bentonite Clay.” The part that isn’t so simple, unfortunately, is mixing it up into the right mask consistency. There are a few ways to get this powdered clay out of the tub: use a spoon, use your fingers, or shake it out of the tub. I like to take the semi-messy approach of tilting a bit into the palm of my hand, running some water of said hand, and mixing it and adding more water or clay powder as needed until it adopts a spreadable consistency. But I’ve heard good things about mixing it up in a disposable or small cup, which seems less messy (but generates more cleanup or waste).

You can either mix this clay with water or apple cider vinegar. I suggest using water the first time, to make sure that your skin can adjust to this product before diving into the deep end. Apple cider vinegar helps bring this product up a notch for those with particularly acne-ridden skin.

Aztec Clay Face Mask Review

After you mix it into something that takes the desirable level of thickness or runniness, apply it to your face carefully (but make sure to avoid the delicate under-eye area), and set your timer for 5 to 10 minutes. I usually aim for about 10 minutes but I’ll wash it off earlier if my face feels particularly dry or tight that day.

After applying the Aztec Clay Mask, you’ll start to notice it hardening on your face. You’ll feel a little bit like a mummy during this time. Try to avoid thinking about how silly or strange you look and feel, and distract yourself by reading a book or watching some TV. It may start to feel a bit uncomfortable after a few minutes. Wash it off if it feels really dry (the package recommends just 5 minutes if you have sensitive skin).

After washing it off with water, your skin will feel nice and dry. This will feel quite nice for people who normally have oily skin, like me. What if your skin was like this all the time? But I digress.

Aztec Clay Mask is a really great way to suck out the sebum from your whiteheads, but it may not have much effect on cystic acne. And it may backfire and dry out your skin too much, leading to more inflammation and itchiness. You’ll need to take care to moisturize very carefully after using this mask. I would also keep it down to once a week or once every few weeks instead of overdoing it with multiple applications a week. If you use this mask only sporadically one jar will last you many years (and I could be mistaken, but I feel like this is actually one product that doesn’t ever actually expire, since it doesn’t contain any water and therefore doesn’t need any preservatives, either). It doesn’t need to be preserved—it’s clay, after all.

This Aztec Clay Mask will be a go-to item on your shelf whenever your face feels like it needs a good talking to. When you’ve eaten too many fried foods and you want to detox your skin. When you feel extra oily and want to feel like you have a normal person’s skin for a while. But if you’re too lazy to mix this up from scratch, you can use another product that pre-mixes bentonite clay with water for you (though keep in mind that it contains other additives like preservatives), something like Freeman Charcoal and Black Sugar Polish Face Mask might work better for your needs (read the full review here.

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