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? 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 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.
Struggling to put together a skincare routine that gets rid of excess shine, acne, and blackheads? Download your FREE “Best Skincare Routine For Oily Skin” cheat sheet to get started (it includes product recommendations + right application order):
Bentonite For Oily Skin: Can It Absorb Excess Oil?
Have you noticed bentonite is used mostly in clay masks for oily skin? 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.
Related: Can Sweat Detoxify Your Skin?
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.
Related: All You Need To Know About Sebum. Your Skin’s Natural Moisturiser
How Do You Use Bentonite Clay?
For best results, use a clay mask with bentonite a couple of nights a week after cleansing. It’s enough to do the job.
What Are The Best Skincare Products With Bentonite?
- Clinique Pore Refining Solutions Charcoal Mask ($25.50): available at Asos, Feel Unique, and Nordstrom
- Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing OIl-Absorbing Mask ($22.00): available at 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!
I have some Paulas Choice products in the mail on their way to me and I have chosen the Hydralight products instead. I haven’t bought a mask, so I will keep the one you recommend in mind!
Tirurit, let me know how you like her. I love her line. So far, none of her products have disappointed me.
You know, I tried that mask from Paula’s Choice and it stung my face like crazy! I guess my skin is too sensitive for it. I’m glad it works well for you, though.
Laurie, I’m sorry you had such a horrible reaction to it. I guess it’s too potent for sensitive skin. Mine is combination and can take pretty much anything, bar a few comedogenic ingredients.
I have not used any products with bentonite.. would try it now 🙂
Anubhuti, if you have oily skin, you’ll love it.
Product with this clay actually help a lot for the oily clogged pores.
Niesha, they do indeed.
Ooo I didn’t know this one! I usually think of kaolin clay for oil-reducing. Superb post! Happy New Year, Gio!!
Janessa, kaolin clay is very good for oil reduction too. Thanks! Happy New Year to you too!
Seeing this I cannot resist sharing that apparently kitty litter (without scent) contains bentonite and can be used…. as a mask! You might read this and then go crazy thinking “what is this girl talking about!?” I´ll attach you the link where I found the video.
Barbara, that’s exactly what I was thinking. People are crazy. I think I’ll keep getting my dose of bentonite from facial masks. But thanks for sharing the link. It’s very interesting indeed.
I am wondering if it is safe to use bentonite powder as a sheer powder for oily skin? Any thoughts on leaving a bit of the clay on your skin for a long period of time?
Furthermore, would it help with oily hair? How can I use it as a mask?
Thank you so much for your website! It is really wonderful!
Hi Denise, as far as I know, bentonite should always be removed after a few minutes. And yes, it works well for oily hair. Just mix bentonite with water, let it settle for a few hours and shake it up. Even so, some of the clay will settle. Don’t use that bit.
I used benonite clay mixed with apple cider vinegar to cure my chronically stinky pits. It worked! I’m now able to use natural deodorant.