The Internet loves a good masking moment, and no mask has achieved cult-fave status quite like Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay ($9). 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 Mona Gohara, MD, you might want to think twice before slathering it all over your face—particularly during dry skin season.
“I think it can be great for someone who has oily skin, but this time of year you really don’t want to overdo it because of the winter air,” she says. “It’s bad for dry skin.” Clay works by drawing out toxins and clearing and tightening pores, which can be a little too intense for skin that’s dry to begin with.
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.
If you do want to add a more regular masking session to your routine in the winter months, instead of clay, look for hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid and ceramides. When the weather is warmer and there’s more humidity in the air, Dr. Gohara says that dry skin will have an easier time handling Aztec Clay. But while the directions indicate you can mix the powder with either water or apple cider vinegar, drier skinned folks will likely want to stick with the H2O option, which is gentler. One more pro tip? Be sure to wash the mask off while it’s still wet, because when you let it dry completely, it’s more likely to dry out your skin in the process. And of course, be sure to post a before and after photo to Reddit so you, too, can get into the cult-fave conversation.
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