You know what they say, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.
Case in point: bentonite clay. If your skin’s as dry as the Sahara, you want to run in the opposite direction. This stuff will only make you flake more.
But if your skin’s as oily as a frying pan? Then, bentonite becomes your BFF. It’ll help you soak up the oil and keep breakouts at bay.
Curious to know why bentonite is so biased towards oily skin? Read on to find out:
What The Heck Is bentonite clay?
Bentonite is an absorbent impure clay made up mostly of montmorillonite.
There are different types of bentonite. Each one owes its name to its dominant element, such as potassium, sodium, and calcium.
Bentonite usually forms from weathering of volcanic ash, most often in the presence of water. But bentonite can describe clay beds of uncertain origin, too.
Fun fact: bentonite was named by Wilbur C. Knight in 1898, after the Cretaceous Benton Shale near Rock River in Wyoming,
Bentonite has excellent absorbent properties
Have you noticed bentonite is used mostly in clay masks for oily skin? That’s because it’s super absorbent: it can soak up excess oil, shine and impurities from the skin.
Bentonite is what scientists use to determine how much sebum patients with inflammatory acne have. They put bentonite on the skin and, a few minutes later, remove it and measure how much oil the clay absorbed (in case you’re wondering, people with acne produce 3 times more sebum than normal).
Once that oil is out of the way, you won’t look like you have a giant frying pan where your head is supposed to be. Plus, that excess oil can’t accumulate in the pores and clog them anymore. Bye bye breakouts!
Bentonite is also said to be able to draw toxins and impurities out of the skin. I admit I was sceptical. Surely, brands would say anything to get us to buy it?
But when I dug deeper, I found there’s some truth in this claim. Turns out, the army has been testing absorbing agents including bentonite for the “decontamination of supertoxic lethal chemical warfare agents on skin” with promising results.
Still, when it comes to detoxification, it’s your liver and kidneys that do most of the job, so don’t rely on bentonite too much.
Does bentonite clay have any side effects?
Bentonite’s job is to soak up excess sebum. Sebum is simply your skin’s natural moisturiser.
If your skin pumps out more sebum than it needs, bentonite will come to your rescue by getting rid of the excess.
But if your skin is dry and doesn’t pump out enough sebum to stay naturally moisturized? You don’t want bentonite to soak up the little your skin produces. It’s a recipe for dryness and flakiness.
What are the best skincare products with bentonite?
- Clinique Pore Refining Solutions Charcoal Mask ($25.50): bentonite + kaolin + montmorellite + charcoal. For very oily skin only. Available at: Feel Unique and Sephora.
- Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing OIl-Absorbing Mask ($22.00): bentonite + kaolin + antioxidants. Available at: Look Fantastic and Paula’s Choice.
The Bottom Line
Bentonite’s soaking properties make it oily skin’s BFF and dry skin’s arch enemy. Use it carefully!
Do you use masks with bentonite clay? Share your experience in the comments below.
Take The Guesswork Out Of Skincare Shopping
Get access to the “Pro Skincare Library” for exclusive skincare routine “cheat sheets” and tricks to help you navigate the beauty aisles jungle like a pro and immediately know what to pick off the shelves to achieve the gorgeous skin of your dreams - even when you’re drowning in an endless sea of skincare products.