Your Complete Guide to Bentonite Clay

Your Complete Guide to Bentonite Clay

One of the most commonly used types of clay in skincare products (and probably your favorite hair mask, too) is called bentonite clay. Known for its super-absorbent properties and mineral-rich composition, bentonite clay has more than earned its place in skincare regimens due to its ability to address a wide range of skincare concerns.

“Bentonite clay is a multifaceted ingredient that works for many different skin types and skin concerns.”

  • Shani Darden, esthetician

Whether you’re dealing with oily skin, struggle with breakouts, or are just looking for a comprehensive detox for your skin, bentonite clay might be the skincare ingredient of your dreams. To help you decide whether or not to seek out this ingredient for your skincare lineup, let’s talk about what it is, how it can help your skin, and how best to make use of it in your routine.

What Is Bentonite Clay?

Bentonite clay is a versatile ingredient used in a multitude of skincare products — and for a good reason. This naturally occurring clay comes from volcanic ash and originates primarily from places like Wyoming and Montana. In fact, its name comes from a particularly clay-rich area of Montana called Fort Benton.

If you know anything about volcanic ash, you know that it’s valuable because it tends to be so rich in minerals. Bentonite, in particular, is loaded with minerals such as calcium, magnesium, silica, sodium, iron, and potassium. All of these clay minerals activate when mixed with water, making bentonite clay highly absorptive and super adept at drawing out impurities, toxins, and excess oil from your skin.

Bentonite clay also offers some mild exfoliating benefits. Despite this — and despite being so effective at removing impurities and excess oil from breakout- prone skin — bentonite clay is actually pretty gentle on your skin and is known to be well-tolerated by many skin types.

What Can Bentonite Clay Do for Your Skin?

Some studies have shown that bentonite has detoxifying properties. This means it may absorb toxins with a negative charge, leading to an overall healing effect. It’s why bentonite clay is known as a ‘healing clay.’ This detoxification makes bentonite clay a potentially helpful addition to your skincare routine, especially if you’re struggling with recurring breakouts. 

This ability also makes bentonite clay excellent at absorbing excess oils, so it’s a great treatment for oily or even combination skin. It can also soothe red or irritated skin and minimize the appearance of enlarged pores due to its ability to seriously clean your pores.

Lastly, bentonite clay products may also help to address visible signs of aging. There’s some evidence that the topical application of clay alongside other anti-aging ingredients may support skin health.

Are There Any Side Effects of Using Bentonite Clay?

Overall, bentonite clay is pretty gentle on the skin. That said, the risk of side effects is never zero. Before using any new skincare ingredient or product, it’s important to patch-test the product on your inner wrist or forearm and wait 24 hours to ensure you don’t have an allergy or sensitivity.

As long as your skin remains non-reactive, you can feel free to begin applying the product to your face normally. If a bentonite clay product starts to irritate your skin, stop using it immediately and consult a dermatologist before picking it back up again. But in general, you’re not likely to have a negative reaction to this ingredient, even if you have sensitive skin.

The only people who might want to avoid bentonite clay are people with particularly dry skin or those who struggle with dry skin-related conditions such as eczema or psoriasis. This is because bentonite clay’s ability to absorb excess oil might backfire on dry skin types.

How Can You Use Bentonite Clay in Your Routine?

There are so many products available to you when it comes to bentonite clay, from facial masks to spot treatments. To help you find the best way to get all of the benefits of this amazing ingredient, let’s talk about three ways to use it in your regimen.

As a Spot Treatment

Bentonite clay can be a great spot treatment if you think it might help your breakouts but have dry or combination skin that might find it too drying as a full face mask. Spot treatments that are formulated with bentonite clay are often mixed with sulfur, like in my Control Corrective Sulfur Calming Mask.

In fact, if you’ve ever had someone tell you to put toothpaste on your pimples, it might be because bentonite clay is often used in toothpaste formulations due to its cleansing properties and gentle abrasiveness that removes plaque without damaging your teeth.

As a Neutralizer After a Chemical Peel

One of the amazing benefits of bentonite Clay is its ability to help balance and neutralize not just your skin’s sebum production but even other skincare ingredients. Chemical peels can work wonders on a wide range of skin concerns — from fine lines and wrinkles to dark spots and blemishes — but one of the downsides is that they can sometimes be irritating to your skin.

My Triple Acid Signature Peel makes use of three potent yet gentle alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs). These work as chemical exfoliants to help loosen the bonds between your skin cells so that dull, dry skin can be more easily sloughed away in favor of newer, brighter skin.

You can swap out your evening skincare routine for this two-step process once every two weeks. Start by washing your face with a gentle cleanser like my Cleansing Serum, which can clear away all of the grime and impurities of the day and leave you with a blank slate on which to apply the triple acid peel serum.

After letting the peel rest on your skin for one to two minutes, you can apply my Kaolin Clay Neutralizing Mask, which is formulated with both kaolin and bentonite clay.

The combination of these two clays helps to neutralize the peel while giving your pores a deep clean without over-drying your skin. After ten minutes, wash away your mask and the peel solution, leaving your skin renewed, resurfaced, and radiant.

If you have oily skin, finish off this process with my Weightless Oil-Free Moisturizer to hydrate your skin without undoing all of that decongesting you’ve just accomplished. 

The Takeaway

Bentonite clay is a multifaceted ingredient that works for many different skin types and skin concerns. Whether you’re using it as a mask, a spot treatment, or part of your DIY skincare regimen, it can help to manage oily skin, clarify your pores, and overall revitalize your complexion.

However, it’s crucial to remember that everyone’s skin is unique, and what works for one may not work for all. Always seek professional advice before introducing a new element to your skincare routine. But once you’re in the clear, don’t hesitate to work bentonite clay into your routine so that you can experience more balanced, more radiant skin.

To see if bentonite clay could be a fit for your skin, schedule a consultation with my trusted team. We can help you determine your skin type, provide skincare guidance, and get you set up with a personalized skincare routine designed just for your unique skincare needs.


Alpha Hydroxy Acids | Food and Drug Administration

Effect of Topical Clay Application on the Synthesis of Collagen in Skin: An Experimental Study | National Library of Medicine

Decreased Collagen Production in Chronologically Aged Skin | National Library of Medicine

Bentonite Clay as a Natural Remedy: A Brief Review | National Library of Medicine


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