He suggests a few: Kiehl’s Rare Earth Deep Pore Cleansing Mask, Cetaphil Dermacontrol Purifying Clay Mask, and the SkinCeuticals Clarifying Clay Mask. All of these also double as spot treatments. “Dab them on individual acne cysts or breakouts rather than all over the face,” advises Dr. Turner. “These products can even be used on the body – for example, to treat shoulder or chest acne.”
Meanwhile, Dr. Zeichner recommends the Simple Purifying Pink Clay Mask, which additionally includes calamine to soothe. That one is pretty hard to find, but you can also try the M-61 PowerSpot Mask.
How often you use it comes down to your skin type and concerns. “If you’re using bentonite clay as part of an anti-acne regimen, you can apply it two to three times a week,” says Dr. Turner. “For those with sensitive skin, use once a week and then work your way up if there’s no irritation.”
Note: A bentonite clay mask shouldn’t be left on your skin for so long that it hardens and flakes. “While wet, the bentonite clay starts to calm and soak up oil,” explains Dr. Zeichner. “But, as it dries on the skin, the initial soothing and absorbing effects can eventually lead to dehydration and irritation.” Stick to the 10 to 20 minutes recommended by most brands and, after rinsing with water, Dr. Turner says you should use a gentle cleanser to whisk away any pore-clogging dirt once and for all.
What about using bentonite clay for hair?
When it comes to shinier, healthier-looking hair, bentonite clay may not be the first thing that springs to mind, but it could be the missing part of the equation. “In the same way that bentonite clay clarifies the skin on the face, it can also exfoliate and deep cleanse the scalp,” Dr. Turner explains. “Its anti-inflammatory properties may help with some scalp dermatitis and flaking. Plus, its high mineral content conditions the scalp skin and hair follicles.”
He adds that to get the most benefit, section your hair and apply the bentonite clay/water mixture to the scalp, pulling it through to the ends. Then leave the mask to sit for 20 minutes.
Bentonite clay can also be used as a substitute for clarifying shampoos to draw out residue and buildup. “Clarifying shampoos are made with chelating agents like EDTA and tetrasodium EDTA to remove excess oil and unnecessary ingredients from your hair and scalp,” says King. “There’s nothing wrong with chelating ingredients for the hair but there are biodegradability issues so people shy away from them. A bentonite clay treatment could be considered a good alternative.”