What Can Clay Do for You? Bentonite Clay for Beautiful Skin & More

Time to get dirty, y’all!  I know it sounds totally counter-intuitive, but adding Bentonite clay to your beauty regimen can actually result in fresher, clearer, cleaner-feeling skin!

What is Bentonite clay? Well, it’s a very specific type of clay – not just any old mud – that comes from volcanic ash, and has been used for centuries as “healing clay” topically and internally, and is especially prized for its detoxification abilities. It may be new to us, but it’s nothing new in the pages of history:

“Cleopatra used clay from the Nile river and the Arabian desert over 1,800 years ago, as part of her beauty ritual.


German and Roman spas have been using clay packs and treatments in the spas they built 4,000 years ago. Many of these spas still exist, and use clay even today.


Pliny the Elder (29-79 AD) devoted an entire chapter of his “Natural History” to the many uses of clay for pimples, black heads and skin tightening.” ~ Aztec-Secret.com

Because Bentonite clay is negatively charged, it will attract and bind with positively charged molecules (toxins and heavy metal residues) once it is activated by mixing with water. Bentonite also pulls extra hydrogen from cells and allows them to replace it with oxygen instead – perfect for gorgeous skin!

I’ve found a little bit more of a science-y explanation of how Bentonite clay actually works, because I’m that person who likes to understand why something works! I’ve found this explanation on 10+ different websites, so quite honestly I have no clue who to cite as the source for this information, but here it is:

“Bentonite clay is a very unique substance, formed primarily of Montmorillonite, which is an extremely flat crystal flake, that carries a relatively strong negative ionic charge. The negative charge is compensated for by adsorbing a cation (either Sodium or Calcium) to the interior of the molecule, this is what makes it either Sodium Bentonite or Calcium Bentonite clay.


To put it another way, think of the Montmorillonite crystal flake resembling two pieces of bread, with a strong vacuum pulling the lunch meat in between them; whatever lands there (Sodium or Calcium) determines what kind of sandwich it will be. Now when you activate this clay sandwich, it will magnetically grab the junk in your body (heavy metals, toxins, acid, etc.) and trade them for the “lunch meat” taking the toxins out.”

Here’s a little illustration of the process courtesy of Aztec Secret, for those who are more on the visual side!

clay chart

So now that I’m telling you all this, I’m sure you’re wondering if I’ve actually tried it myself, and I can assure you I certainly have, which is why I’m here to rave about it!

While I was looking into it, the brand Aztec Secret came up repeatedly, with absolutely amazing customer reviews for its Calcium Bentonite clay. Check it out for yourself on Amazon – 7,800+ reviews, with an overall rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars. Not too shabby, am I right?

With no hesitation, I ordered a 1 lb. jar of Aztec Secret from Vitamin Shoppe’s website, where it’s only $5.09. Since I was ordering some other things too, I scored free shipping – woo hoo! I have to admit, I was so excited for this to arrive so I could get started!

[For those who don’t exfoliate regularly already, I would recommend doing a good exfoliation within the 24 hours before your clay mask, just so you don’t have layers of dead skin cells blocking the clay’s access to the toxins in your skin. My skin is perfectly fine with me doing an exfoliation right before a mask, but if you’re not sure, do it the night before. It doesn’t have to be fancy – nice warm (not super hot) water and gentle but firm circles with a washcloth will do.]


Making up a batch of clay mask is super easy, I promise. Per the directions, you simply mix the clay with equal parts water and/or raw apple cider vinegar. [If you didn’t know, raw apple cider vinegar itself is awesome for your skin when used in moderation – it’s known for helping make pores look smaller due to its tightening abilities, plus said to aid in balancing your skin due to its acidity level. Oh, and let’s not forget its antibacterial properties! However, it should only be used diluted, as it can otherwise result in over-drying, especially if you already have dry or sensitive skin!]


Before I go any further, I have to make a very important note – when working with Bentonite clay, you must never use any metal bowl or utensil! Remember how I mentioned that, once activated, it has a strong negative charge which will attracts positive (metallic) charges? Yeah, you don’t want this stuff on metal.

I took about two teaspoons of clay (eyeballing it) and mixed it with one teaspoon of filtered water and one teaspoon of raw apple cider. It came out really great with the 50/50 ratio of clay to liquid, though if you find it too dry, you can always add a bit more liquid. Your goal is a smooth paste. In my experience, it seems to work best as a mask when you keep the ratio closer to 50/50 though. Here is what the consistency came out like for me:


So there you have it. Easy-peasy mixing process, and then you can simply apply with your fingers. I’ve found that it’s easier to build layers by applying to one area, moving to other areas, then coming back around to do a second layer over each area. Even that little bit of dry time helps the second layer of clay to grab better. Shoot for a 1/4-1/2″ layer overall.

Don’t limit yourself! Did you know you can use this product anywhere on your body that you want to improve your skin? (Let’s not pretend that back and butt-cheek acne aren’t a thing…) I can tell you, though, that I used this batch to give myself a face mask and armpit masks!

Yep, you heard me. Armpit masks. Our armpits are a major location where our bodies rid us of toxins, but applying a daily layer of deodorant (even really healthy, aluminum-free ones) can partially impede that natural cleansing/detox process. Of course, if you’re using an antiperspirant, which will contain aluminum, I hate to tell you this, but you’re really blocking that process, plus adding in an unsafe metal too. [For more on that, you can check out one of my older posts on going aluminum-free.] All of that being said, our pits are totally a great candidate for clay detoxification!

Well hellooooo!

And away I went! I smeared my little concoction under both pits and all over my face, then waited about 15 minutes for drying time (the package recommends 5-10 min. for sensitive skin and 15-20 for normal skin). The hype about this product is no joke – you really, truly do feel your skin pulsing in response to the clay, and can feel a drawing-out sensation. I especially felt the drawing feel on my right armpit, which is my Problem Child pit, so the clay probably had more to work with! By the end of my 15 minutes, my clayed face was stiff and tighter than a drum, and the clay looked about 80-90% dry, so I knew I was done.

Here’s another little disclaimer. While you’re wearing your mask, don’t try to walk around the house. It’s a bad idea. You’ll leave little dried balls of clay in your wake. As you can probably guess, I learned this the hard way. (Honestly, if I had a house with a backyard, I think I’d do this outside. My future neighbors are going to think know I’m nuttier than a squirrel turd.)

This being the case, when it’s time to actually remove the mask, you may want to take advantage of it’s flake-ability and try to get any off (into a trash can) that you can before you undertake the rinsing off. I’ve also learned that it’s really just easier to rinse it off in the shower, so I try to schedule my mask time before I’m going to shower. (On that note, even if you take it off in the shower, make sure you have a hair catcher in place to catch any undissolved mask chunks – you do not want them going down your drain!)

So, from the times I’ve done it so far, here’s my verdict. Immediately after the mask, my skin feels super clean and smooth. (Some people report feeling too dry, and have to use moisturizer, though I have yet to experience that.) Usually the next couple days after my mask, my skin is unusually glowy and my skin tone is visually brighter. My pores undoubtedly look smaller, and many littler ones are no longer visible – score! People struggling with severe acne usually see the most drastic results, so I (luckily) don’t have any earth-shattering results like that to note, but I definitely see improvement! For a mere $5/lb and getting probably at least 20 uses out of this jar, you can’t go wrong. A goal of getting in one face mask a week is super doable with how quick and easy it is.

On the pit side, I was also quite impressed. After the mask, I put on no deodorant afterwards – eeek! My left (nice) pit had almost no wetness or odor the entire day, which is darn notable for wearing no deodorant! Lefty is usually the more well-behaved one anyways, but still. Now, the right (problem) pit is where I saw greater results – there was a very significant decrease in the amount of perspiration, and as a result, much less odor. Barely noticeable. I’m an open book here at a.healthier.happy, so I’ll also say that the smell it did have was somehow better. I know, that sounds insane, but it honestly smelled less, um, pitty? Less “B.O.”? I don’t know what else to call it! After 4-5 days, I would say the effects started slowly tapering off, but overall, things have been better than usual ever since doing it. Definitely worth pursuing! I’m thinking I might try to do a pit mask every couple weeks or so going forward, especially as summer’s real heat arrives.

On that note, for anyone looking to make the switch to aluminum-free, doing a pit detox should help speed up the transition! Most of the unpleasantness when you first get away from traditional antiperspirants is due to your pits finally having a chance to detox, which is why you’ll notice extra moisture and (usually) a worse smell temporarily.

Now, I certainly don’t want to under-represent a great tool. Bentonite clay has many, many other uses other than just topically! For other uses, including internally, check out this article. I really appreciate this article too, which further focuses on clay as an effective means of ridding the body of toxins.

Please let me know if you have any questions, and feel free to share your own experiences with Bentonite clay in the comments! Wishing you healthier, happier days!

{Main photo credit: http://www.mayang.com/textures/}


5 thoughts on “What Can Clay Do for You? Bentonite Clay for Beautiful Skin & More

  1. Love your “problem pit” story and solution! I think I might give it a try this morning!
    By the way, I have a question: on another post you say talc is to be avoided. May I ask why?


  2. Thanks! I hope that doing a bentonite clay pit mask makes a nice difference for you! That reminds me, I’m overdue for one! 😉

    I recommend avoiding talc because I noticed that it’s come up in many of the sources that I reference while writing my posts, regarding potential dangerous ingredients. Better safe than sorry, you know?

    Here is one source, where it’s discussed as #17 on the list (sorry, it’s a long scroll down to it haha): http://www.collective-evolution.com/2012/04/10/you-have-the-right-to-know-17-chemicals-to-avoid-in-cosmetic-and-personal-care-products/

    Here’s another, from the American Cancer Society: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/talcum-powder-and-cancer.html

    And, actually, since the time I published my post, talc made big news here in the U.S., as major company Johnson & Johnson was sued for the alleged connection between the use of its baby powder (containing talc) and ovarian cancer in over 2,000 women who have come forward. Read more on that here: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2016/10/28/johnson-jnj-talcum-baby-powder-ovarian-cancer/92878176/
    Since the first woman won her lawsuit, it looks like two more have also successfully sued and won.


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