What is a Clay Mask?

Diane Goettel

A clay mask is a beauty product that is used to improve the look and health of the skin. Most clay masks are specifically intended for use on the face, but there are some that can be used on the entire body as well. There are a number of skin care companies that include a clay mask in their product lines. Some sell a few varieties of masks made with clay. There are even companies that specialize in clay masks.

Clay masks should be washed away with warm water.
Clay masks should be washed away with warm water.

The instructions for using a clay mask vary slightly from product to product, but the general procedure is the same. The clay is applied to the face while it is wet. The mask should completely cover the skin but should also not be too thick. This is because one of the key functions of the clay, which is to draw dirt and excess oil out of the pores, cannot be completed if the mask stays wet. If they layer of clay is too thick, it can take too long to dry.

Avocado is good for the skin.
Avocado is good for the skin.

When a clay mask is applied to the face, it should kept off of the skin around the eyes and mouth. This is because the skin in these areas is delicate and may become irritated by the clay. Once the clay has dried on the face, it should be washed away with warm water. Sometimes, when a clay mask is completely dry and ready to be removed, it looks as though it has become polka dotted, especially around the T-zone. These dots are actually little spots of oil that have been sucked out of the skin by the clay as it dried.

Many varieties of clay masks come in a wet form in a bottle or tube that must be kept closed to prevent the product from drying out. There are a few companies that sell a clay mask that comes in a powdered form. The mask is mixed at home before being applied to the face. The benefit of this kind of mask is that the user can get it to an exact desired consistency.

Furthermore, the powdered clay can be mixed with ingredients other than water or in addition to water. Mashed banana, for example, can be added to the mixture to give the skin extra moisture. Mashed avocado, a skin-nourishing ingredient, can also be used. To calm the skin, the water can be substituted with a cooled chamomile tea.

Chamomile tea can be a substitute for water in some clay mask recipes.
Chamomile tea can be a substitute for water in some clay mask recipes.

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Discussion Comments


@croydon - I know sometimes they give you the wrong amount, although I find there are a few places that mix it up fresh and you can just buy it by weight. So you just get what you need.

But even if they do end up selling you too much, I actually quite like using a facial clay mask on other areas, like my decolletage and even my legs occasionally.

I wouldn't do it all the time, but if you've got some left over, why not? The skin on other areas does tend to get neglected and would do just as well with an occasional refresher.


@KoiwiGal - That's one of the reasons I prefer to mix up my own cleansing clay mask rather than buy one from the shops.

Even if you do manage to find a place that sells good, fresh masks, rather than something out of a packet, you still have to pay quite a lot and probably will end up with too much. I don't really have time to use a mask more than once a week or so and they almost always give you way more than you need for two or three masks.

So, anyway, I just buy the mud powder and make up my own masks with whatever fresh ingredients come to hand. I find oats can be quite good, and lemon juice and various other things.


There is a wonderful shop near me that sells really fabulous clay face masks. I actually never knew that you had to try and get them to dry all over though in order for them to really suck out the oils. I thought they just did that over time and it was better to put on a thicker layer.

You should remember that if a mask has more than just clay in it, it will go off pretty quickly. It's a good idea to keep it in the fridge, especially if it has things like avocado or fresh fruits in it.

And even then, you should only keep it for a couple of weeks at a time.

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