Facial Clay Masks, dos and don’ts.

They come in beautiful colors, from all over the world, and provide a myriad of benefits to the skin. The most popular and beneficial clays come from France, although many good ones are sourced from Australia, Morocco, the Middle East, Southern Europe and even from the US. They contain high amounts of minerals and are sold purified specifically for cosmetic use.

But despite their popularity did you know they’re not for everyone? Learn how to properly apply a clay mask, who should benefit from it and which clay to use for your skin.

Who should and shouldn’t use clay masks?

The belief that clay masks are for everyone and every skin type is quite a myth no one knows where it really started. The reality is only oily or combination skins should use clay masks, while dry irritated skins should steer away from them, as they can irritate and dry the skin even more.

What should be the proper way to apply a clay mask?

First and foremost, completely remove all traces of makeup. If you’re wearing makeup, use a good makeup remover to completely get rid of it. Next, cleanse your face with warm water and a foaming cleanser or facial soap to eliminate all traces of makeup remover, leftover makeup and impurities. You want to apply a clay mask on a really clean face. The warm water will soften the plugs within the pores (contrary to the internet, pores do not open nor close). It helps to steam your complexion prior to the application of the clay mask if pores are too compacted.
Second, apply the clay mask evenly all over the face, neck and décolleté as per the manufacturers instructions. Avoid the skin around the eyes at all cost. This skin is quite thin and can get damaged easily. Some clay masks like BVO’s clay masks, provide double performance, a scrubbing/exfoliating action and clay mask, while others don’t offer any scrubbing benefits. If the mask you’re applying is also an exfoliant, make sure to scrub in circular motion while applying it.
Third, let the mask completely dry on your skin if you can (recommended), otherwise remove as the thinner layers dry up.
Fourth, to properly remove the mask just splash enough warm water on face and with the fingertips give a gentle massage scrubbing in circular motion until the clay is completely re-hydrated, rinse off and pat dry with a face towel. Do not use any soap or cleanser after or to remove it.
Fifth, apply a toner to prepare your skin for the best absorption of moisturizers or facial oils. Not all toners are formulated equally and some although called toners, are just refreshing waters formulated to provide some temporary hydration to the skin. At By Valenti Organics we have formulated toners specifically for this purpose.
Sixth, after the toner has dried or evaporated from your skin, apply a light layer of moisturizer or facial oil. Don’t over do it. You should aim to replenish the skin rather than smother it.

Do not apply makeup for at least 12-24 hours.

How long should a clay mask be left on the skin and why should I let it dry completely?

Contrary to the many cosmetologists, a clay mask should be left until it completely dries on the skin. This is when the clay absorbs the most, pulling both debris from inside the pores and excess oils. The belief that a clay mask will also absorb all the moisture off the skin drying it even more isn’t quite accurate. Yes, some moisture along with sebum, dirt and dead skin cells will be absorbed by the mask, but by following with toner and moisturizers, the skin will immediately regain all the little moisture it has lost.

During the application of a clay mask an exchange happens, the skin absorbs the minerals from the clay which provide that radiant look we all love, while the clay absorbs the excess oil and impurities from the skin. When they aren’t allowed to completely dry the exchange doesn’t happen, resulting in a poor experience and little results.

How many times a week should I apply a clay mask?

Clay masks shouldn’t be applied daily. It’s recommended they be applied no more than 1-2 times a week. More often and they could irritate the skin. Less than that and no benefits would be visible.

Which clay mask should I use?

Green Clays: Particularly French Green Clay or Montmorillonite Clay, is the most absorbent of all clays. Recommended for oily and acne prone skins, it helps remove dirt, excess oil and debris from deep down pores.
White/Gray Clays: Bentonite, Fullers Earth, Kaolin and others, are mostly recommended to replenish loss of minerals in the skin and to remove excess oil. Recommended for combination skins, it helps remove absorb excess oil without exacerbating sebum production.
Red/Pink Clays: Rhassoul, Australian Red, French Pink and others, are mostly used to provide complexion with a smooth finish.
Black Clays: Like Australian Black Clay, are mostly recommended for acne prone skin, for its deeply cleansing properties.

Clay Masks DIY

Making your own clay mask formulation isn’t hard. After selecting the clay for your skin, add a few drops of your favorite or nourishing oil, like almond or jojoba, and a few drops of essential oil. Slowly add lukewarm water while mixing until achieving a nice smooth consistency. For an exfoliating effect, add some poppy seeds. Apply immediately using a brush or with your fingers.


  1. Thanks for the great info! If I made a mask out of just French green clay, white kaolin clay, a few drops of orange, lavender & frankincense essential oils and just enough green tea as the liquid to make it the consistency of cake icing…how long will it last before it “goes bad”? It has been a week. it looks fine but smells just a bit different than it did the day I made it. thanks

    1. You may want to avoid the water if you’re planning to store the mask for longer than 1-2 days. Clays are mud extracted from the soil, somewhat purified for cosmetic use, but full of the nutrients bacteria and yeast love to feed on. Preparing the mask with water without the use of preservatives makes it the perfect ground for pathogens to grow freely and rapidly in a matter of days. Bacteria and mold are not invisible to the naked eye in small colonies and only visible when in the millions. If the scent has changed chances are pathogens are already present and growing.

  2. Hello! Thank you for a very informative article. However, I read from another page -LINK REMOVED- about ph level in the bentonite clay. In that article, the author suggested to mix apple cider vinegar with Aztec secret India healing clay to neutralize and balance the ph level in the mixture, rather than using water because water with bentonite clay will cause it to be too alkaline for the skin. I googled it and found many other places do suggested water and some suggested both for diy bentonite clay mask. I come back to ask you, hoping you can help me clarify this.

    1. Aztec clay refers to Calcium Bentonite Clay. Calcium bentonite clay is the only clay with a very high pH level (9-10). Mixing this clay with water won’t alter the natural alkaline pH of this clay, so to alter or lower the pH it’s recommended to use vinegar or a mixture of vinegar and water to lower the alkaline pH and bring it down to a more neutral (around 7) or acidic (around 6.5 or lower) pH. Most clays are not alkaline but acidic or neutral, so this advise only applies to clays with a higher pH. I hope I was able to help.

    2. Thank you for replying and clarifying. I have been mixing Redmond clay with water and was confused when I read about vinegar.

  3. Hi thank you for the info, however i have some questions, really need you favor.
    If my skin is looks greasy, and small pimples everywhere on my face, which clay should i use. How long i can see the result? I got small pimples and my skin darker than it actually is. Hmm i want to look fairer and clean face. Does clay can make our face brighter? It is not easy to get clay here, do you have any recommended products which contains unharmed ingredients(natural). Thank you.

    1. Clay won’t lighten your skin. Clay is good at replenishing the skin of minerals and removing dirt and excess sebum from deep down pores. The darker areas around the pimples is likely caused by the pustules (pimples) themselves, and with time they should become lighter. Before aiming at DIY’s or applying any clay,I would recommend to visit your dermatologist. For what you describe you could have a mild/severe case of acne.

  4. I have used a mud mask and now it has absorbed in to my skin ,even though I washed it off it still looks like I have got it on I don’t know what to do? Can anyone give me any advice on how to get rid of this?

    1. Hello Anisah. Carol here, esthetician and skin care specialist for BVO. In all my years of experience I have never heard of something like this. Clay won’t be absorbed into the skin, unless it’s polluted or adulterated with something else. You need to contact the manufacturer of the clay you’ve purchased and report your problem directly to them. If necessary see your doctor or dermatologist for expert advice.

    2. I don’t know but I have used the product too many times and I left it on more longer than I should have and it still looks like iv got it on do you know any good mud masks to get clear skin

    3. Please contact the manufacturer of the clay mask you’re using and report directly to them. Until your condition clears up avoid using any other clay mask. Consult your doctor or dermatologist if necessary.

  5. I stopped reading once you said pores don’t open and close. As a third year medical student you couldn’t be more wrong. Please know your facts before trying to inform people.

    1. Luke, if as a third year med student you still aren’t clear on the anatomy of the skin, the largest organ in the human body, and the purpose of pores, air follicles, sebaceous glands, etc, you may want to educate yourself on the subject a bit more. Pores do not have muscles surrounding them that could create the opening and closing movement, so in actuality that doesn’t happen. I would recommend some reading on the anatomy of the skin, such as http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1294744-overview and perhaps this scientific study which aims at explaining the correlation of pore sizes with ethnicity https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4337418/. Of course I’m sure your professors might be able to help you find pertinent literature on the subject.

    1. Hello Bridget.
      It would depend on your complexion, your skin type and the ingredients in the mask, as not all clay masks are created equal. Consult your dermatologist prior to buying/applying the mask. He/she might be able to guide you in the right direction.

  6. Is it okay to use Bentonite Clay in the face everyday? I’ve read reviews and blogs that other people use it daily when they have acne breakouts. I have a lot of acne in my face and do you think that it helps? I’m using the famous XXXXXX Clay, by the way.

    1. Regardless of the brand, clay masks shouldn’t be used daily, but no more than once or twice a week. Daily use of clay masks can irritate the skin, exacerbate acne infections, increase sebum (oil) production and/or dry skin. Please consult the manufacturer of the brand of clay you’re using.

  7. Hi, how do you recommend preserving a water-based clay mask? I know it isn’t recommended but this is for production in the personal care industry.


    1. Michelle, please consult with a formulator or private labeling company, as your product will require laboratory testing.

  8. i want to make some diy face masks infused with essential oils and fragrance oils as bridal shower gifts for my sister and her friends using bentonite clay. What is the best way to make the mixture and also keep it in a pasty form for a relatively long time, since it is not advisable to dilute with water in this instance?

    1. Maame, please consult with a formulator or private labeling company. We don’t provide assistance in the manufacturing of cosmetic products.

  9. Im planning to use the innisfree volcanic mask however, i do have pimples and oily skin. Is it okay to use on my skin?

  10. “Facial clay mask do’s and don’ts” was immensely helpful for me! I just started doing masks and would pick a random “mask” and apply.
    I have a combination type of skin and look to use masks to replenish my skin, soften, as well as, to remove toxins. What are some recommended brands that are healthy for the face (with the least amount of chemicals) in facial masks, toners, and moisturizers that I can find in stores?
    I read where putting a toner on the face after a mask is helpful. I have never used a toner and do not know what is healthy or a “good” brand.

  11. Hello,
    Thank you very much for this article, highly professional, as well as your replies to the comments.

    I would like to know how wise it would be to increase the frequency of use of a clay mask (Calcium bentonite in my case) on very localized spots: only on mature pimples, while leaving the rest of the face untouched.
    Would the risks of irritation outbalance the benefits of draining the sebum from the pimple?

    1. Hello Max.
      The only way to see if daily localized bentonite clay applications would work in your case is conducting a test trial and monitor the results. Any dryness or irritation would be temporary and should heal within a short period of time, usually within a week or two. The benefits might outweigh the side-effects, but without testing it out and pinpointing the exact ratio between duration and application amount it would be impossible for us to provide you with a guesstimate. Please do keep us posted on how it goes for you and if the results you are looking for are achieved.

  12. I used Rhassoul clay for the first time and applied it under my eyes as I didn’t know any better. Now my eyes are very hollow and dark underneath. Will this go away? I just did the mask three days ago.

    1. Hi. Carol here shin care specialist for By Valenti Organics. Clay can dry and irritate the delicate skin under your eyes, the reason why clay should never be applied to the eyes area. Because of the absorbing effect clay has on the skin, blood from under the skin was pulled to the surface and that’s why the skin appears darker. The darkness should resolve on its own in a few days. If it doesn’t please consult your dermatologist. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water, and eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Avoid direct sunlight.

  13. Thanks for the article, I have done 2 clay masks recently (about 6 days apart) using bentonite clay and water, I noticed about 5 days after my first mask that my entire face was purging sebum from every pore with just the slightest bit of pressure from my tweezers. It comes out like crazy and I don’t usually have a lot of acne or breakouts. After my second mask I’m still trying to cleanse all this gunk from my pores, I was wondering if anyone else has had this happen and what the nest way to clean it out of my pores is. Should I extracellular the sebum or just try to use an exfoliant? Do another mask? Help! Thanks 🙂

    1. Hello Roni, Carol here skin care specialist for By Valenti Organics. It could be one of three possibilities, either hormonal changes in which sebum production increases; food related, eating foods high in fat can increment the production of oil in the skin; the clay application dried your skin too much exacerbating sebum production. After 5 days it’s highly unlikely the clay mask is to blame but not impossible. I would recommend to stop using the clay and let your skin/body recover for a good 4-6 weeks. Drink plenty of water and eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Avoid red meats and foods high in fat. Avoid heavy makeup applications.

      As a rule of thumb, clay masks are recommended for oily or combination skins. Dry, irritated or normal skins should not apply clay masks. I wouldn’t recommend adding extra procedures or products to your skin right now. If your skin is irritated and dry which would explain the excess sebum production, you might irritate it even further and increase the production of oil.

      I hope this helps. Keep us posted!

    1. Hello Theresa.
      Avoid applying any peeling product alongside clay or any other product that could temporarily irritate the skin.

  14. Thanks for sharing the information it was extremely useful, I noticed a lot of DIY face wash article online using clay, i understand that using clay as mask can be extremely drying to skin, but how about using it as face wash will, when the contact time with the skin is minimal will that help or it still not advisable to be used daily

    1. Hello Pavithra,
      Using clay masks daily as you’ve mentioned, isn’t recommended due to its drying and irritating effects on the skin. However when used alongside with a foaming agent or soap in small amounts, as in some shaving creams or cleansing soaps, clay no longer acts as an absorbing agent but a smoothing/soothing one to provide a silkier, softer feel. In this last case it can be added to soaps or foaming products in very small amounts and used daily.

  15. Thank you for the informative article! Is it okay to use a vitamin C serum after the mask and then moisturize? Also, is it better to apply a clay mask in the morning or evening?

    1. Hello Milani,
      There is no reason to avoid applying a vitamin C serum after a clay mask along with a moisturizer. Just make sure to do a test in a small area in case you get a reaction to it.
      There is no good or bad time of the day to apply a clay mask, unless your skin reacts to it and becomes temporarily red and you need to be some place, then do apply later in the day. Whether you like morning, afternoon or evening is up to you, just make sure you have plenty of time for it.

  16. Hi,
    Great article!
    I have an oily and acne prone skin, and when I used the green and grey clay masks my skin was red and irritated after. The redness passed after some time (a few hours I think).
    I was wondering if this was a normal reaction (maybe it means the it’s working) or if it means I shoudn’t use those masks.
    The red one didn’t have the same impact.

    Thank you 🙂

    1. Hi Julia,
      Redness after a clay mask application is relatively normal and it will resolve itself. That doesn’t mean is or isn’t working, it only means you’re having a reaction to it due to many factors, the clay is too strong or harsh for your skin type, or your skin is too sensitive, there are ingredients or chemicals in the mask you’re reacting to, etc. If the red clay mask works better for you, then just stick to that one. All clay colors provide similar benefits in greater or lesser amount, and all are wonderful. Just stick to the one you’re more comfortable with.

  17. This article is brilliant and has so much great info! I have been hoping to make a face mask for myself without having to make it very time I want to use it. Will I be able to make these masks without adding the water and just storing the dry ingredients in a jar? Thankyou!

    1. Hello Louise, of course you can. Just make sure to sterilize the container you’re using to store the dry ingredients, to not introduce bacteria into your mix.

  18. Clay can also be mixed with pure lemon juice for a skin prone to acne. Just make sure that the clay mask is mixed in a glass recipient with a wooden spoon or wooden stick. The mask should always be freshly made, so just use a teaspoon of clay with the juice of a quarter lemon. That should be enough for one application.

  19. I got a bag of bentonite clay recently, and every time I’ve used it, it has caused my skin to turn red and mildly irritated for a short time. At first I thought this might be a reaction to the clay itself, but today, I washed the mask off while it still had a few not-completely-dry patches, and I noticed that my skin only turned red in the places where the mask had dried. Does this mean that I shouldn’t let it dry completely? Or is it really just a reaction to this type of clay? Or is this normal?

    1. Hello Molly. Temporary mild redness and irritation with clay masks is relatively normal, and although uncomfortable it’s never permanent. Every individual and skin type reacts in a different way to the application of clay masks. Some getting redness, some having irritation, some both and some none of this. Bentonite clay is a strong clay, so perhaps a more suitable clay for your skin type would be a french green clay which is recommended for delicate skins http://www.byvalenti.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=28_31&products_id=119. The redness you’re experiencing on the dry patches of clay is the result of the absorption the clay exercises on the skin. Moisture along with impurities is absorbed by the clay, while a rush of blood floods to the external layers of the skin creating the redness you’re experiencing. Although uncomfortable, like I said, this is a relatively normal reaction. After the application of clay masks it’s important to apply a mild toner to re-hydrate the skin (http://www.byvalenti.com/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=32) and a rich moisturizer to balance the skin and reduce the effects of the clay (http://www.byvalenti.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=28_29&products_id=133).

    1. Hello Debra. There are many reasons why the clay won’t dry as quickly in those areas. Perhaps too much oil mixed in your mask, or your skin is too oily or too humid in those areas. Or perhaps you’re applying a thicker layer of clay, therefore needing more time to dry.

  20. Hello!May I ask if I am too young for clay mask? I am 12 years old.And If I am not too young, what type of clay mask should I use? I have dull skin,combination sensitive skin and some acne and pores.(I want clay masks that have brightening effect)(my skin is really sensitive)

    1. Sensitive skins do not benefit from the use of clay masks. You should avoid using them completely.

  21. Great information it REALLY help but I have a question after a clay or mud mask can you do your regular skin routine like cleansing, spot treatment and more or should you just leave it and moisturized?

    1. Gal,
      Clay masks might temporarily irritate the skin. For that reason it’s always recommended to do one deep treatment per day to prevent damaging or irritating the skin too much. Leave spot treatments for another day.

      Cleansing is done during the morning ours in your morning beauty routine. Always remove all traces of makeup prior to applying a clay mask. After a clay mask application we always recommend applying a toner specifically formulated for your skin type (http://www.byvalenti.com/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=8_11) before the application of moisturizers, oils or serums.

      For more info on when and in what order to apply your beauty products please download our Facial Systems Direction Guide

    1. Hello Tifany. A clay mask application is the complement of a good skin care routine not a stand alone product. Your basic facial system should contain a cleanser, toner and moisturizer. Additional products should be added depending on your complexion and needs.

  22. Is it okay to apply another face mask after I just finished using one? or would be better to use one and then use a different mask a few days after?

    1. Hello Talisha. It would depend on your skin type and the type of mask. As a rule of thumb clay masks shouldn’t be applied more than once a week. More than that and it could have an adverse reaction on the skin.

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