Treat yourself to a spa-worthy pamper with one of these purifying products
In the world of skincare masks, recent years have seen new innovations such as sheets, hydrogel and high-tech LED options.
However, the one category of masks that has stood the test of time is the oldest: clay masks have botanical- and mineral-based formulas to help purify and clarify the complexion by removing dead skin cells.
Clay masks do, however, have a bad reputation for their drying properties, resulting in the complexion feeling tight and dull. To combat this and retain the skin’s moisture, look for products with additional emollients, oils, or humectants such as glycerine or essential oils.
And if you have dry skin, be cautious on what type of clay you use. For example, kaolin clay has mild absorption properties, while bentonite clay is stronger and will leave skin feeling more stripped.
How we tested
With a checklist in mind – it had to detox, clarify, brighten, moisturise, hydrate and even out skin – we trialled every clay mask on the market over several weeks to accurately test how well each worked with our skin.
The best clay masks for 2021 are:
- Best overall – Omorovicza ultramoor mud mask: £72, Feelunique.com
- Best for congestion – Beauty Pie super pore-detox black clay face mask: £35, Beautypie.com
- Best for sensitive skin – One Ocean beauty blue algae exfoliating + detox mask: £63, Cultbeauty.co.uk
- Best for hydration – Grown Alchemist deep cleansing facial masque: £25, Net-a-porter.com
- Best for oily and acne-prone skin – Temple Spa purification deep cleansing mask: £28, Harrods.com
- Best for improving texture – Wildsmith Skin double clay refining mask: £65, Harrods.com
- Best for targeting breakouts – Strivectin multi-action blue rescue clay renewal mask: £47, Feelunique.com
- Best for an at-home spa experience – Whind purifying whipped mask: £40, Whind.com
Omorovicza ultramoor mud mask
This mask is a cult classic for a reason. Omorovicza’s cleansing and clarifying Hungarian moor mud seems to instantly replenish and regenerate the skin. Reputed to help with acne, eczema and even psoriasis, the mud, alongside calcium and magnesium, re-energises the skin by diminishing breakouts and boosting otherwise sluggish skin cells.
We loved how the thick yet nourishing mask instantly soothed the skin, and although the mud is heavily formulated within the mask, it didn’t dry out our face as expected. Ripening any blemishes, smoothing and plumping the skin, as well as drawing on the natural acids to brighten the complexion, we would recommend this mask for those that want to use a thorough and efficacious clay treatment once a week. It is heavy duty and so those with sensitive skin would benefit from a milder formula, but we found it worked exceptionally well on oily/combination, normal and dry skin types, and it is the mask for those whose complexion is feeling congested and, as a result, lacklustre.
Beauty Pie super pore-detox black clay face mask
Best: For congestion
Formulated with an abundance of actives such as glycolic, salicylic and lactic acids as well as its famous kaolin clay, the formula instantly gets to work on your skin, targeting any congestion, build-up or impurities that may be clogged under the surface. It’s a cooling, creamy mask that dries instantly and mildly tingles on the skin when applied.
In super minimalist and travel-friendly packaging, this clay mask is the perfect skin pick-me-up for any occasion. Applied both on oilier T-zones as well as on drier areas, the moisturising properties of the kaolin clay make it the perfect mask for any skin type that needs a deep and thorough detox, without stripping the natural moisture from the skin. We do recommend using this mask once a week initially, as the actives truly get to work in detoxifying the complexion, and avoid overuse until your skin is used to its magic.
One Ocean beauty blue algae exfoliating + detox mask
Best: For sensitive skin
Said to harness the power of the ocean, the One Ocean beauty mask is formulated with blue spirulina algae, which has nutrient-rich properties to help enhance the skin’s natural radiance and overall appearance. In addition to this, the kaolin clay is combined with emollients such as soybean and sweet almond oils to hydrate the skin while drawing out impurities.
Taking a teaspoon-sized amount and brushing it onto the skin, the complexion is immediately met with coconut shell particles to gently buff and polish. After removing 15 to 20 minutes later, we immediately saw how matte our skin looked, and how soft it was in texture. We would recommend this for any sensitive skin types, as the mask doesn’t tingle and is rather soothing overall.
Grown Alchemist deep cleansing facial masque
Best: For hydration
This is a creamy white clay that dries down almost instantly. It helps to gently exfoliate the surface level of the skin, reducing the appearance of any excess sebum production. The mask contains vitamins A, E and D, which help to reduce the appearance of the pores, making sure that our skin feels firmer, smoother, and more even.
We loved how our skin felt after just 15 minutes of wearing it – with no tingling sensation, the mask calmed any active breakouts and reduced their texture by the morning. We loved that when we finished our routine with our evening moisturiser, our skin instantly absorbed it and it left our complexion looking plump and feeling revitalised. We would highly recommend this mask for those that don’t necessarily need to purge the skin of impurities but would love an additional hydrating layer to leave skin soft and supple.
Temple Spa purification deep cleansing mask
Best: For oily and acne-prone skin
Not only were we blown away by the mousse texture of this mask, but when washed it after drying down, our skin felt refreshed and renewed. It blends kaolin clay to deeply tone and cleanse the skin with tea tree to soothe, protect and reduce redness as well as marine exolysaccharide to smooth and plump.
We loved applying this product at the end of a long day and would highly recommend it for those suffering with oily and congested skin. The clay deeply purified our pores, helping to extract any impurities, but the tea-tree extract, with its antimicrobial and antibacterial effect, helped to soothe any inflamed breakouts on or underneath the surface.
Wildsmith Skin double clay refining mask
Best: For improving texture
This is a mineral-rich clay mask that captures the best of both kaolin and bentonite clay to clarify the complexion. The bentonite clay, which is slightly more intense, thoroughly cleanses the pores while the kaolin clay works on the surface to eliminate impurities. Combined with calcium, silica, iron and magnesium, they aim to improve moisture levels, while hyaluronic acid works to hydrate and refresh the skin.
We loved working this into our routine more than once a week as the formula was very kind, and was the perfect pick-me-up if needed. We do recommend that, given the higher percentage of clay and the warming sensation provided by the capsicum, those with extremely sensitive skin concerns should avoid using this mask more than once a week. After use, you will immediately notice vibrancy, with visibly reduced pores and an even texture overall.
Strivectin multi-action blue rescue clay renewal mask
Best: For targeting breakouts
Formulated with blue algae, white clay and fermented probiotics, this clay mask was an absolute treat on our skin. It instantly soothed once applied, and we especially loved how the white clay and shea butter worked at drawing out impurities on the cheeks whilst the blue algae soothed any irritation around hormonal breakouts.
Don’t be put off by the blue algae extracts. They get to work on the skin without making a mess when being removed, and the combination of the red seaweed alongside the probiotic ferment helps to balance and renew any dull or congested complexions. The clay formula almost took our breath away with its moisturising factors. Immediately after washing off, our skin felt calm, even and hydrated.
Whind purifying whipped mask
Best: For an at-home spa experience
We absolutely loved this mask for brightening and evening out the skin immediately after use. Thanks to the purifying ingredients of green clay, white clay and salicylic acid, it gently exfoliated the skin and dissolved any excess sebum or dead cells for a smooth and even finish. For those with oily, congested skin or those just craving a detox at the end of the week, we would highly recommend this mask.
The combination of glycerine and allantoin in the formula helps to hydrate, giving a plump and even result. Part of any beauty ritual, the whipped non-drying texture alongside the verbena and mint scent will create the perfect spa-like treatment for when you’re needing to relax and unwind. Wake up to a brighter and clearer complexion and thank us later.
The verdict: Clay masks
Let’s just say our complexions are well and truly clarified, and rounding up our favourites hasn’t been easy. The Omorovicza ultramoor mud mask was the best for not only detoxifying the skin, but for restoring, hydrating and brightening the complexion overall. The Beauty Pie super pore-detox black clay face mask was a close second. The Temple Spa purification deep cleansing mask, meanwhile, deserves a special mention for its incredibly soothing formula alone.