Aztec Clay Mask Review: We Tested the Viral Face Mask on Every Skin Type

Once upon a time, before there was #BeautyTok and Reddit skincare communities, there were only word-of-mouth beauty rituals passed down throughout the centuries. From jade-rolling to hair-oiling, we’ve all seen the continual popularity of these age-old beauty staples, and that includes the very popular, very viral Aztec clay mask. I mean, if you’ve spent even five minutes on the internet in the last few years, you’ve undoubtedly seen the cult-favorite, mix-it-yourself mask in TikTok hashtags, Reddit threads, and in your own group chats, with claims that it does everything from fix clogged pores to blackheads to cystic acne—all with a single ingredient: bentonite clay.

Sounds too good to be true, right? Welp, that’s why I’m here. On today’s episode of Is This Viral Beauty Product Actually Worth It?TM, I enlisted the help of my two very eager friends (hi, Maggie and Milan) to test the mask on our three very different skin types, and also chatted with board-certified dermatologist, Karan Lal, MD, to see what’s up with this $10 viral product. Let’s begin, shall we?

Meet the expert:

What does the Aztec Clay Mask do for you?

The only ingredient is the Aztec clay mask is calcium bentonite clay, a natural pore-clearing agent that acts like a magnet to help attract and stick to dirt, oil, and other gunk in your skin. And that can be a good thing, because “your sebum harbors bacteria and pollutants that we come in contact with every day,” says Dr. Lal. The clay also contains a ton of minerals that are thought to potentially help your skin better heal itself—which is likely why people swear it’s a cure-all for clogged pores, acne, and uneven skin texture (even if the “science” isn’t totally there).

But despite this clay mask being ~trendy~, it’s definitely not new. Various forms of clay have been used in ancient skincare routines for thousands of years, from Cleopatra’s reign 2,000 years ago, to Ayurvedic practices in India more than 4,000 years ago. Obvs, today’s version doesn’t have nearly as much history (it was created in 1984), but according to the manufacturers of Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay, their calcium bentonite does have a unique source: the Death Valley desert in California, where it’s supposedly “sun-dried for up to six months in extreme temperatures of 134 degrees.”

So what does that mean for your skin? Welp, in the end, it’s still clay (albeit very ~cool~ clay), and clay’s main function is to suck out and absorb oils and moisture, like a sponge. This can be a great quick, temporary “fix” for super-oily skin types—think: making your pores look a little tighter before a big event—but it’s not going to magically unclog all of your pores or eradicate acne, especially since it’s only hangin’ out on your face for ten-ish minutes. Sorry.

How do you make the Aztec Clay Mask?

First, to really give the mask a ~proper~ test on different skin types, I (who has dry skin) decided to enlist the help of my two friends, Maggie (who has oily skin) and Milan (who has “normal”/combination skin). We all made the mask the same way, based on Aztec Secret’s recommendation of mixing equal parts clay with either apple cider vinegar or water. Based on internet reviews, we each decided to mix three tablespoons of clay with three tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, which seemed to be the most popular ratio.

Note: The instructions warn against using a metal bowl or any metal utensil to mix the clay, supposedly because the clay will become “less effective” or “lose its magnetic charge.” Do I believe that? Not really. But am I a cosmetic chemist? Nope! So just to be safe, I personally mixed the mask in a glass bowl with a wooden spoon, before layering the mask on my face in a thick, even coat.

Our before-and-after results

Instead of just giving this a single one-and-done test (how much can you really tell from a product after just one use?), all three of us used the Aztec Secret Clay Mask for two weeks for different amounts of time and with different frequencies, based on our skin types. And, unsurprisingly, we had some thoughts.

The Aztec Clay Mask on *dry skin*


I have frustratingly dry skin, as in I slather on l-a-y-e-r-s of moisturizers and am still left with a thirsty-af face. I’m also lucky to have very regular hormonal breakouts, so I’m always looking for acne products that won’t dry my face out (difficult).

TIME: 6 mins.

I left the mask on for about six minutes, and, like all clay masks, this one tightened on my skin as it began to dry. I also felt a slight tingle from the apple cider vinegar, which was totally fine for the first few minutes, but then during the last half, I was itching to rinse it off. Not exactly what you want in your skincare.

RESULTS: Not bad, not amazing.

I had my doubts about a clay mask—with vinegar (!)—working well on someone with dry skin, but after using it once or twice a week for a few weeks, I was pleasantly surprised. My skin felt overall smoother, and though it’s likely coincidental, I haven’t had many breakouts either. But the biggest determining factor for me was how well makeup applied to my skin after masking—two words: damn great.

Still, was this the best mask choice for dry, acne-prone skin? Honestly, no; it’s definitely a risky choice for anyone who has highly sensitive, easily irritated skin. But if you want to try yourself, just remember to follow up with an extremely moisturizing face lotion, like one of these:

The Aztec Clay Mask on *oily skin*


“I’ve always had dry, sensitive skin, but when I began hormonal birth control, it turned super oily and sensitive,” says Maggie. “Although my acne has gotten better recently, I struggled with cystic acne for quite a while. Which, for anyone else who has been through it, knows it freaking sucks.”

TIME: 10 mins.

Maggie kept her mask on for 10 minutes for her oily skin—the maximum recommend time limit. “Once the clay dried, it felt tight and itchy on my skin,” she says. “Not unbearable, but not the most comfortable thing in the world.” Maggie has a long relationship with the Aztec Clay Mask, though, and is proudly part of its fan club, so she’s very used to the tightness and itchiness (even though we still don’t love a product that itches).

RESULTS: Love it

“I truly believe that the Aztec Face Mask—along with my consistent skincare regimen specifically created for breakouts—helped clear my skin of acne,” she says. Still, even her oily skin finds the mask drying, so she always follows up with an oil-free moisturizer afterward.

The Aztec Clay Mask on *combination* skin

SKIN TYPE: Combo/”normal”

Milan won’t admit it, but she is one of those people with, like, annoyingly good skin. “I get a pimple here and there, but most of the time my skin feels pretty hydrated and comfortable,” she says. “Not too oily really ever.” Sigh.

TIME: 7 mins.

Milan kept the mask on her combination skin for about seven minutes. “The mask felt totally fine for a while, but when it started to dry up and I couldn’t move my face, it felt a little itchy,” she says, echoing everyone else’s experience. “I don’t know if my skin needs to use it as a full-on face mask regularly, I may just use it occasionally.”

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RESULTS: Perfectly fine

Because Milan does not have consistent or reoccurring acne, plus a quite ~average~ skin type, she decided that the mask worked better for her as spot treatment. “Over the past few weeks, whenever I’ve had a pimple, I’ve dabbed a bit of the mask on it and kept it on overnight,” she said, adding that to her surprising, “it really helped dry up and flatten the zit.”

How often should you use the Aztec Clay Mask?

How often you “should” use the Aztec clay mask will depend on your skin type and sensitivities. Why? Because the clay can be super drying or sensitizing, especially when you mix it with the recommended apple cider vinegar. If you’ve got oily skin, Dr. Lal recommends masking up one to two times per week, while those with drier skin types should use it way less (i.e., start with once a week or once every other week).

Why does your skin turn red after use?

There are two reasons your skin could be red after using the Aztec clay mask: (1) You’re having an allergic reaction (you’ll know it if your skin feels burning, tingling, itching, and/or hives start appearing). If that’s the case, wash your face immediately, pop a Benadryl, and consider consulting a doctor or heading to the E.R. if you’re experiencing other symptoms. It’s also possible the mix of vinegar and clay just irritated your skin (hi, sensitive-skin folks). The irritation is temporary, but always make sure to patch-test future products on your neck 24 hours beforehand to check for a reaction.

The other more likely reason your skin turns red after using the Aztec clay mask? (2) It’s part of ~the process~. The tub of clay reads that “slight redness of the skin is normal and will disappear in about 30 minutes” (mine was a legit tomato-red for a solid half-hour). But…why? According to Dr. Lal, “your skin turns red because the minerals in the clay aid in circulation and bring more blood flow to your skin.” The fancy terminology for this reaction? Cutaneous vasodilation. Basically, a similar effect that would come from doing 30 jumping jacks.

Final thoughts

Though our experiment with the Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay showed some promising results in just a few weeks, it will likely take a longer amount of time to truly take on its full effect. Still, we all agree that our skin feels softer, looks more even, and has been breaking out less—so overall, we give this mask an A. But remember, your skin may react totally different, so it’s important to do a patch test beforehand and slowly work up to regular use.

— Update: 17-02-2023 — found an additional article Is Aztec Clay Mask Good for Cystic Acne? from the website for the keyword does aztec clay help with hormonal acne.

The Aztec Clay Mask isn’t a good treatment for cystic acne because it can be excessively drying to the skin. Excess dryness will cause naturally oily skin to produce more oil, leading to clogged pores and even more inflammation and breakouts.

Aztec Clay Mask is one of the most purchased beauty products on Amazon, with over 60,000 (mostly) positive reviews.

It’s hailed as the must-have product for everyone with oily and acne-prone skin, and it’s said that it can even be used as a body and a scalp treatment for those dealing with conditions such as seborrheic dermatitis and excessive dandruff.

However, although the Aztec Clay Mask may be a holy grail for some, there are those that have had rather unpleasant experiences with this product.

And as someone who has already tried the mask and belongs to the latter category, I want to talk about why I think that the Aztec Clay Mask isn’t good for cystic acne or any skin condition for that matter.

Therefore, in this article, I will take a deeper dive into this “miracle” treatment, explain its potentially harmful side effects, and suggest five best treatments for cystic acne.

Does aztec clay help with hormonal acne

What is the Aztec Clay Mask?

Aztec Clay Mask is a treatment that’s supposed to pull toxins and impurities from the skin, balance out oil production, reduce congestion, and help get rid of acne.

The product comes in a powder form, which you will need to mix at a 1-to-1 ratio with either a toner or purified/bottled water, depending on the texture and sensitivity of your skin and the actual concern you want to address.

The explanation of how the Aztec Clay Mask works so well is that the negatively charged molecules of the clay bind with the positively charged molecules of supposed toxins in the skin, which get pulled out once the mask is washed off.

What’s The Aztec Clay Mask Made Of?

The Aztec Clay Mask is made out of 100% natural calcium bentonite clay.

Bentonite clay is an absorbent aluminum phyllosilicate clay consisting mainly of the mineral known as montmorillonite, which is why it’s also called Montmorillonite clay.

It usually forms from weathering of volcanic ash, most often in the presence of water, and it has recently been taking off as a wellness trend among people looking to “detoxify” their bodies and defend against illnesses.

However, its origins in beauty rituals go way back and are thought to come from centuries ago when civilizations used bentonite as a healing method to promote better health, heal wounds, ward off diseases, and protect their skin from the sun.

What Does The Aztec Clay Mask Do For Your Skin?

Bentonite clay is supposed to benefit your body due to its ability to produce an electrical charge when it comes in contact with liquid.

When the clay touches any fluid, it takes on a different charge and binds to any present toxins within the fluid.

Bentonite clay, having negatively-charged molecules, “seeks” toxins in the body to bind with and then effectively remove them.

So the Aztec Clay mask is supposed to remove the “toxins” from your skin, remove excess oil, and clear up the congestion that causes acne.

Is Aztec Clay Mask Good for Cystic Acne?

Does aztec clay help with hormonal acne

Aztec Clay Mask should work wonders for cystic acne, but only in theory.

Many people believe that the clay absorbs excess oil and draws out impurities from the skin; however, these claims are not necessarily correct.

So, let’s start by tackling the first issue: absorbing excess oil.

When a component or an ingredient in skincare products is claimed to have “oil-absorbing” properties, this usually means that it’s drying out your skin.

Our skin needs its natural oil to stay lubricated, balanced and protected, and if we didn’t have oil to do all these things – our skin would feel dry, stretched, tight, uncomfortable, and it would possibly crack and bleed due to dryness.

Take the soles of our feet and the palms of our hands as an example. These areas are usually dry because they are the only areas of the entire body where we don’t have sebaceous glands (the glands responsible for producing oil.)

Additionally, people who have naturally dry skin, a.k.a. skin that lacks oil, are also familiar with these issues, which is why they tend to use heavy-duty moisturizers to help replenish some of the oil their skin lacks.

So, our natural oil is amazing, and we don’t need to dry it out because it has a beneficial function for the skin.

Besides that, our natural oil isn’t the sole responsible factor for breakouts.

When excess oil gets stuck inside the pore and can’t push its way to the skin’s surface to lubricate the skin and perform its protective action, it starts to change its pH.

This change in the pH attracts a particular strain of bacteria known as C. acnes that already live on healthy skin without causing problems.

The issue starts occurring when C. acnes find their ideal environment to feed and proliferate, and this environment is a pore clogged with hardened sebum and dead skin cells clumped together.

From there, our immune system senses the overgrowth of bacteria and begins to fight against it by causing inflammation that manifests itself as a pimple on the skin.

So, although our natural oil plays a small role in the entire process, it’s still not the only component responsible for acne, which is why we shouldn’t be overdrying it to death in an attempt to tackle an issue caused by a few other factors.

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With that said, let’s move on to the second issue: drawing out impurities from the skin.

When a component or an ingredient in skincare products is claimed to be able to “draw out impurities from the skin,” this is false marketing, and the company that promotes this message shouldn’t be trusted because they are lying to you.

The only impurities we have are on the skin’s surface because our skin is the organ that prevents stuff from the external world from entering inside of us.

And you may very well remove these impurities by simply cleansing your skin with water or a gentle cleanser.

You don’t need dehydrating clay to “pull toxins and impurities” from your skin because there aren’t toxins and impurities inside the skin.

The only way our bodies detox is through using the toilet, not through our pores.

Also, as I mentioned above, cystic acne is caused by severe inflammation due to the overgrowth of bacteria inside the pores, not by supposed “impurities.”

Yes, cellular debris inside the pore consists of dead skin cells, white blood cells, and hardened oil, but this isn’t an “impurity” like you would think it is.

These components are what the acne-causing bacteria use to feed and proliferate, so if a living organism uses them as food, they can hardly be considered to be impure or dirty in any way.

And lastly, if you think that clay molecules can actually enter inside the pores and dissolve sebum and dead skin cells that are causing a clog, which leads to breakouts, you are also wrong.

Clay molecules are too big to enter inside the pore, and they don’t have the ability to dissolve sebum, cellular debris, or other metabolic byproducts from the surrounding skin tissue.

Molecules such as salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide can do this, but not clay.

Can Clay Masks Make Acne Worse?

Clay masks can make acne worse in some cases due to their extremely dehydrating action on the skin, which throws the skin into panic mode and causes it to produce even more oil to compensate for the lack of hydration.

Additionally, some clay masks also contain other ingredients such as heavy emollients and oils that could be clogging the pores and causing breakouts.

Does The Aztec Clay Mask Remove Dark Spots?

The Aztec Clay Mask doesn’t have melanin-inhibiting properties that would remove dark spots.

In some cases, clay masks can even make dark spots appear even worse because they can compromise the skin barrier by dehydrating the skin, thus compromising the skin’s ability to deal with inflammation.

This could potentially result in more pimples, and eventually more dark spots.

Best Treatments for Cystic Acne

When choosing a treatment for cystic acne, you need to look for something that contains active ingredients with pore-clearing properties.

Good options include:

  • Salicylic acid – excellent for dissolving hardened oil inside the pores.
  • Benzoyl peroxide – oxygenates the clogged pores, thus destroying the airless environment bacteria live in.
  • Retinoids – promotes cellular turnover that purges the dead skin cells stuck inside the pore.

Additionally, when targeting cystic acne, it’s also a good idea to opt for a leave-on treatment instead of a mask, as these products need a longer time to work and actually address the issue.

Rinsing them off after ten-fifteen minutes will hardly provide any meaningful results when using over-the-counter masks.

With all that said, here are the best treatments for cystic acne:

DMK Skincare – Beta Gel – $90+

Does aztec clay help with hormonal acne

DMK Beta Gel is definitely the treatment you want to look into if you are dealing with cystic acne.

The main active ingredient in this serum is beta-glucan, a polysaccharide sugar found in the cell walls of various mushrooms, plants, algae, yeasts, or oats.

This component is known to have immune-enhancing benefits, which help protect the body from pathogens, AKA bacteria, thanks to their ability to increase macrophage activity, which are the scavenger cells that search for and destroy pathogens. 

In skincare products, beta-glucans also provide many benefits, from intensive skin repairing and wound-healing properties to antioxidant activity, skin-soothing abilities, and providing an excellent softening and moisturizing action on the skin’s surface.

All these benefits can help reduce acne, inflammation, sensitivity-induced redness and improve your skin’s overall health.

Paula’s Choice – Anti-Redness Exfoliating Solution – $30

Does aztec clay help with hormonal acne

The Anti-Redness Exfoliating Solution with 2% Salicylic Acid is a lightweight toner that contains 2% salicylic acid followed by simpler ingredients such as butylene glycol and green tea extract that focus on hydration and soothing the skin.

It can be used several times a week to address both non-inflammatory and inflammatory acne such as blackheads, whiteheads, and cystic acne. – 2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide – $25

Does aztec clay help with hormonal acne

The 2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide by has certainly been a lifesaver for me when dealing with cystic breakouts.

I still occasionally use it as a spot treatment, especially when I feel like a huge and deep cyst is forming under the surface of my skin.

This formula comes in gel-cream consistency, and it can be used daily or a few times a week if your skin is sensitive to it.

Adapalene Gel 0.1% Topical Retinoid – $30

Does aztec clay help with hormonal acne

La Roche Posay’s Adapalene Gel is a strong anti-acne medication that can work great on moderate to severe cystic acne.

It can be extremely beneficial, but its initial side effects are dryness, irritation, peeling, and sensitivity, which usually last for a few weeks until your skin gets used to it.

Make sure to use any retinoid but especially Adapalene in the evenings, followed by a good moisturizer and a high SPF in the morning.

Tretinoin – $$

Does aztec clay help with hormonal acne

Tretinoin is definitely the game changer and the last resort before you start considering Accutane to deal with cystic acne.

Tretinoin is a retinoid and a stronger option than Adapalene that’s only available through prescription in most countries in the world.

It works by speeding up cell turnover (the rate that your skin produces new cells and sheds them from its surface.)

Slow skin cell turnover, as I already mentioned above, can be one of the main causes of cystic acne because it’s one fragment of what leads to clogged pores and an overgrowth of bacteria.

Therefore, after starting tretinoin, your skin cells will travel faster to the surface, purging clogs in the process and revealing a brighter, smoother, healthier, and more unified complexion.

— Update: 18-02-2023 — found an additional article Amazon Reviewers and Redditors Love This $15 Face Mask, but Derms Recommend Better Alternatives from the website for the keyword does aztec clay help with hormonal acne.

Social media loves a good masking moment, and no mask has achieved cult-fave status quite like Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay ($15). The mix-it-yourself solution is lauded for its ability to unclog pores, and the before-and-after photos Redditors have shared of it clearing away their acne are truly unbelievable. But according to board-certified dermatologist Marisa Garshick, MD, while it does its job well, it’s not great for everyone.

“But it’s not for everyone, just because it can dry out the skin,” says Dr. Garshick. And because the Aztec clay mask only has one ingredient—bentonite clay—its only focus is removing oil. And when you’re using pure clay, it’s easy to strip your skin of good oils. “If you are absorbing too much oil, not just what’s in excess, then you can experience some dryness and sensitivity of the skin. “

That’s especially true during the winter months, explains Mona Gohara, MD,  a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. “This time of year you really don’t want to overdo it [with clay masks] because of the winter air,” she says. “It’s bad for dry skin.”

All that said, you can still use the Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay if you want. You just need to proceed with caution and keep the following tips in mind. However, there are also better, more cosmetically elegant options that provide the deep-cleaning benefits of clay while hydrating and soothing skin (more on those later).

How to use the Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay mask without drying out your skin

1. Asess your skin type

Because the Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay Mask is so drying, you only want to use it if you have excess oil to remove. If you have dry skin, avoid this mask and only use the more gentle options in the next section during the warmer months when your skin can better tolerate it.

2. Only mix it with water

The directions say you can mix the clay with water or apple cider vinegar, and that’s because ACV does have some acne-fighting abilities. But putting it straight on your skin can cause serious irritation regardless of your skin type.

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“Apple cider vinegar contains organic acids—lactic, succinic, and citric acids—that may kill P. acnes, a skin bacteria that is one of many contributing factors to acne breakouts,” says Jeffrey Fromowitz, MD, FAAD, a Florida-based dermatologist. “Applying ACV directly to the skin may cause irritant burns if not properly diluted.” As someone who had to kick her roommate out of the shower after applying a bentonite-ACV mask to her scalp because it burned so bad, I wholeheartedly second this rec.

3. Never let it dry down

You should never leave your mask on long enough for it to dry. “The one thing pretty much everyone gets wrong about a clay face mask is letting it dry completely,” says Sharon McGlinchey, celebrity facialist and founder of MV Skincare. “Everyone does it and most likely believes that very tight sensation they feel after removal is a firming action. It is not!”

A clay mask goes through three stages: the damp phase, the beginning of the dry phase, and the dry phase. “The first two phases are beneficial for the skin: the damp phase, which is when the most beneficial minerals can absorb, and the beginning of the drying phase, which is cooling and a little like exercise for your skin,” says McGlinchey. Avoid the third step, though: “The dry phase is when the clay draws moisture back from the surface of the skin.” This can lead to dry, irritated, and blotchy skin.

4. Use it sparingly

Even if you are oily-complected,  Dr. Gohara still says you should use the mask sparingly, especially if you’ve already got a lot of other drying ingredients, like exfoliating acids and retinol, in your routine. While clearing away excess oil with these things is usually a good thing, if you clear away too much of it your skin will start to dry out. Then, your body will start overproducing sebum to make up for the discrepancy, and you’ll wind up with skin that feels dry, oily, and just plain uncomfortable all at the same time. Because of this, Dr. Gohara recommends using the mask once a month at most.

5 gentler alternatives to the Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay mask

Newer non-drying clay masks give your skin that detox while also nourishing it so it’s not left super dry. “To also be hydrating, [the clay mask] must have moisturizing ingredients like aloe vera, glycerin, or squalane, or it can have anti-inflammatories like chamomile extract or rosehip and other botanical oils,” says Arash Akhavan, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. “That way, the clay will either be less drying, less irritating, or both.”

That’s because moisturized skin is less reactive than dry skin and is able to better handle any potential side effects of the clay. And anti-inflammatory ingredients can keep the skin calm and happy and less likely to get irritated. By infusing these into a clay mask, you’re getting the best of both worlds. Just remember that the clay is still there. So avoid these masks if your skin is feeling dry or sensitized and make sure you never, ever let it fully dry down.

We’ve pulled five moisturizing clay masks at varying price points that are wonderful alternatives to the Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay mask. Learn about each and shop for them below.

— Update: 18-02-2023 — found an additional article The Internet Is Obsessed With Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay—And Now I Am, Too from the website for the keyword does aztec clay help with hormonal acne.

We purchased Aztec Secret's Indian Healing Clay so our writer could put it to the test. Keep reading for our full product review.

I’ve been dealing with hormonal acne for years, and whenever a new breakout crops up, the first thing I do is search for a quick pimple fix online. The one face treatment that always shows up in my search is the Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay, a mix-it-yourself mask that contains just one ingredient: calcium bentonite clay. With thousands of five-star reviews, it’s clear the love of this mask isn’t just hype—it works for many people with a range of skin types. As one of Byrdie’s resident beauty contributors, it was only right I tried it for myself.

Read on for my review.

About My Skin: Sensitive, combination skin

Before I tried this mask, there were a few things I wanted to know. Because I have sensitive, combination skin, I wanted to find out how to make the correct mixture for my skin type—especially since there are a few variations. For example, some people like to mix their clay with water, while others take it a step further by adding apple cider vinegar and even honey to their DIY treatment for added hydration. 

Ingredients: Natural bentonite clay

This mask contains just one ingredient: 100% natural calcium bentonite clay, which is amazing at absorbing excess oil and drawing out impurities in the skin. According to Aztec Secret, this particular clay is derived from volcanic ash and is sourced from Death Valley, California, where it's sun-dried for six months in high temperatures (up to 134 degrees).

Since this mask contains just one ingredient, it’s totally free of additives and fragrances. It’s also not tested on animals and is considered clean by Byrdie’s standards.

How To Use: Mix with apple cider vinegar or water

Aztec Secret recommends mixing the clay with equal parts of apple cider vinegar or water. I chose apple cider vinegar because it was a favorite amongst other reviewers. I could already tell this was going to be a messy process, so I tried a pro-tip from Reddit’s SkincareAddiction thread, which was totally genius: Put your two ingredients into a sandwich bag and swish them around. Mess avoided.

According to the brand, you shouldn't leave this mask on for longer than five to 10 minutes to prevent any redness or drying. I once read that clay masks should be rinsed off as soon as you feel them tighten, which happened at the five-minute mark for me.

Honestly, taking off this mask was a little tiresome. But once I bumped up the water temperature and let my wet towel sit on my skin for 30 seconds at a time, the mixture started to break up. When the goop did finally come off, it was pretty thick. To avoid clogging my sink, I collected the big chunks and threw them in the trash instead of letting them go down the drain. (If you know your sink is prone to clogging, I recommend doing this—it might save you from a plumbing debacle later on.) 

Byrdie / Bianca Lambert

The Feel: Light and airy when wet but dries down

The clay mask alone has a fine texture, but once combined with apple cider vinegar, it becomes light and workable. However, once my mixture started to dry after application, I couldn't move my face and felt a slight tingle (likely from the apple cider vinegar). While I had the mask on, a friend made me laugh, and it was nearly impossible to express myself, which made trying this a fun memory. 

The Results: Smaller-looking pores, ASAP

After my skin was clay-free, it felt soft, but a little dry. Luckily, the dryness was nothing a little rosehip oil couldn’t fix.

I like to think that my nightly skincare products worked more efficiently after rinsing off the gunk this mask brought to the surface.

Byrdie / Bianca Lambert

The Value: Unbeatable

When I opened the brown box with the Aztec clay, I immediately thought, wow, this is a massive jar for a super affordable price. I can't be sure how long this tub of clay will last me, but I would imagine I could get at least 15 masks out of it, which makes each treatment less than a dollar. You can't get more budget-friendly than that—especially for an all-natural DIY treatment that really works.

Byrdie / Bianca Lambert

Similar Products: You have options

While there aren’t many one-ingredient clay mask treatments like Aztec Secret's, there are definitely clay-based masks that can help address similar skincare concerns.

Klei Beauty Clarify SuperGreens & Lavender Green Clay Mask ($14): Most of us reach for a clay mask when we’re oily or want to zap a pimple that decided to take up space (and not pay rent) on our faces. This face mask is made with French green clay, lavender, and aloe and helps clarify, balance, and calm the skin. 

Beneath Your Mask Illuminate Clarifying Face Mask ($70): Treating yourself is always a good idea, especially when it’s time for your weekly face mask. What makes this luxe mask worth the investment is that its French green clay is infused with wild-harvested and organic ingredients like honey, coconut milk, turmeric, and aloe vera that brighten, soothe, and suck up excess oil.


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About the Author: Tung Chi