In high school, pampering myself meant taking a long bath, painting my nails black, and slapping on three-plus goopy layers of whatever mask I thought would suck all the oil out of my T-zone.
Usually, this was a jar of grey, chalky clay that my friends and I had picked up that weekend, and the results were often less than desirable. I had dry skin, and I'd end up drying it out even more by overdoing it with these random treatments.
My face was red and tight and just plain stressed out, unlike my friends who actually had oil to eliminate. So for while, I swore off of clay masks and all they represented, until I became a baby beauty assistant here at MC four years ago. Once I stepped into the beauty closet, I had a change of heart.
I learned that there are hundreds of clay masks out there, and they cater to all skin types—even my dry, flaky complexion. These muddy creations have been optimized and pumped up with hydrating, soothing, and even exfoliating ingredients to take their sebum-zapping powers up a notch.
Different clays have different benefits, so there are some that are perfectly suited for my dehydrated visage—think kaolin to pink to Umbrian. And because my teenage self would have appreciated a bargain, there are thankfully options for everyone, from those looking for a steal to those in the mood to treat themselves. Here, the best options for your skin type and your wallet.
1. The Word-of-Mouth Favorite
Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay : Aztec Secret
Over 12,000 rave Amazon reviews can't be wrong. This mask is straightforward—it's made up of just one ingredient, 100 percent natural calcium bentonite clay—but it's a powerhouse when it comes to clearing out clogged pores, detoxifying build up in your strands, and even for at-home mud wraps.
2. Most Cleansing
Umbrian Clay Purifying Mask : Fresh
The clay harvested from Umbria, Italy has a high mineral content that gives this formula its detoxifying powers. But don't let its potency daunt you: astringent sandalwood and lavender water sooth the skin while it works.
3. Most Detoxifying
Jeju Volcanic Clay Mousse Mask : Innisfree
Volcanic clay from South Korea gives this mousse-y mask its detoxifying kick. (And the bottle eliminates the muddy mess that some jars can cause.)
4. For Your Whole Body
Kaolin Mask : The Inkey List
$7 for a gentle deep cleanse? Sign us way up. Use this formula once or twice a week on any acne prone areas, including your back and chest.
5. For Dry Skin
Mini Pore Waterclay Mask : LANEIGE
K-beauty has never steered us wrong, and this bouncy clay mask is no exception. Its gel texture, given its power from mineral mud from the Yellow Sea, zaps excess oil without stripping the skin.
6. For Sensitive Skin
Squalane + Tea Tree Detox Mask : Biossance
Clay masks sound like they'd cause the opposite of what dry skin needs, but even flakier complexions can benefit from their purifying properties. French green clay reduces the appearance of acne, and squalane keeps all skin types soothed and hydrated.
7. For Mature Skin
Goddess Skin Clay Mask : Charlotte Tilbury
This pink tube isn't just a pretty addition to your medicine cabinet's mise-en-scène. Spanish clay does the oil-absorbing work in this anti-aging formula, while reship oil restores elasticity and softens and sweet almond oil deeply nourishes the skin.
8. For Dry Skin
Rare Earth Deep Pore Cleansing Masque : Kiehl's
This rich formula has been a classic for years. While it purifies and reduces oil to prevent breakouts, it's still moisturizing enough to keep skin comfy.
9. For City Dwellers
Instant Detox Mask : Caudalie
If you live in a big city, pollution can damage the skin more than you realize. The Viniferine in this formula brightens dark spots and clears pores of toxins that dull the complexion, while pink clay eradicates excess oiliness.
10. For Congested Skin
Clarifying Clay Masque : Skinceuticals
This option is an exfoliating one-two punch: A blend of five fruit acids gentle dissolve dead skin cells to leave a polished, smooth complexion, while kaolin and bentonite clays clarify and reduce oil and shine.