Meet the New Generation of Clay Masks That Don’t Dry Out Your Skin

Photo: Stocksy/Guille Faingold
If you're a face mask fan, chances are you've been through this scenario: You slather on a clay mask to draw gunk out of your pores, only to have it shrivel up on your skin 10 minutes later⁠—leaving your complexion really dry (cough cough the viral Aztec healing clay mask). Clay has useful benefits to your skin, though, so it's a good thing that we're in a new era of non-drying clay masks that give you a still-hydrated glow.

"The purpose of the clay in a face mask is to draw out impurities from your skin," says Arash Akhavan, MD, a board-certified dermatologist with The Dermatology and Laser Group in New York City. "The main problem is that people with sensitive skin have classically stayed away from clay masks because of how drying they are. But we've definitely seen a toning down of that, and now, a lot of them are more hydrating."

With the new generation of clay masks, you get the pore-clearing benefits of the ingredient, plus moisturizing perks of your fave hydrating skin-care MVPs. "Clay is something to look for if you have combination, oily, or acne skin, or if you feel like you have a lot of congestion in your pores," says Dr. Akhavan. "To also be hydrating, [the clay mask] have moisturizing ingredients like aloe vera, glycerin, or squalane, or it can have anti-inflammatories like chamomile extract or rosehip and other botanical oils. That way, the clay will either be less drying or less irritating, or both." Adarsh Vijay Mudgil, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in NYC, adds that hyaluronic acid is another good ingredient to look for.

A clay mask is something to use about once a week, according to Dr. Akhavan. And, pro tip: "Don't let your clay mask get to the dry phase, which draws out moisture from the skin," says Dr. Mudgil. (Though these new clay masks likely won't get to that truly brittle point.) Keep scrolling to shop clay masks for your own pore-clearing regimen, below.

True Botanicals Glacial Clay Detoxifying Mask, $75

Photo: True Botanicals

This clay mask, which has a base of clay from the Canadian glaciers, is really gentle since it's packed with both hydrating and anti-inflammatory ingredients. "This one has squalane, which is really good for hydration, and it's also anti-inflammatory, so it's appropriate for acne-prone skin," says Dr. Akhavan, who also points to glycerin as a key moisturizer within the mask. Other botanicals like camellia seed oil and oat extract add to how gentle it is for your skin.

Herbivore Botanicals Pink Clay Exfoliating Mask, $22

Photo: Herbivore

Dr. Akhavan recommends this pink clay mask, which he says "is not as drying as a typical clay mask." It has rosehip in it, which he says is beneficial for acne-prone complexions, and also camomile powder to soothe.

Laniege Mini Pore Waterclay Mask, $25

Photo: Laneige

This mask brings you the delightful, moisture-packed texture of a gel-to-water cream, but in clay mask form. Its formula includes various mineral clays, plus pine needle (to regulate oil) and purifying mint water.

The Organic Pharmacy Purifying Seaweed Clay Mask, $70

Photo: The Organic Pharmacy

If you're dealing with redness, this mask is a game-changer. Vitamin C-based antioxidants plus gentle aloe soothe irritation, and they're blended with calming seaweed extract and clay to rejuvenate your skin and leave it inflammation-free. Dr. Akhavan is a fan of this one as a hydrating, pore-clearing option.

SheaMoisture African Black Soap Clarifying Mud Mask, $3

Photo: SheaMoisture

Grab this drugstore gem to clear your skin with. The fun part is that it's a packet full of skin-purifying mud that you can get dirty with as you slather it all over your face. Besides clay, the concoction includes shea butter and glycerin to keep in moisture, and tea tree oil to help combat breakouts.

Pacifica Cosmic Clay Face Mask, $6

Photo: Pacifica

Another drugstore find? This Cosmic Clay mask, which contains detoxifying clays, glycerin, hemp oil, and blueberry extract, which works as an antioxidant to fend off free radicals.

Tatcha Violet-C Radiance Mask, $68

Photo: Tatcha

Get a concentrated dose of vitamin C via this Tatcha mask, which is really creamy, packed with Japanese superfoods... including Japanese "beautyberry," an antioxidant rich in polyphenols. It also has fruit-derived alpha hydroxy acids for gentle exfoliation, all packed into a gorgeous lavender hue mask that reveals brighter, softer skin.

The Inkey List Kaolin Mask, $7

Photo: The Inkey List

For a basic, no-frills clay mask, this one by The Inkey List contains two different clays, plus aloe vera, glycerin, and sunflower seed oil so that it doesn't leave your skin thirsty for moisture. And it costs less than 10 bucks.

For dermatologist-backed intel on how to fight acne, watch the video below: 

BTW, this is what non-comedogenic really means in beauty products. And here's how to make your pores look smaller

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