best clay masks for oily skin

What are the best clay masks for oily skin? If your skin’s pumping out more oil than a frying pan and your face is riddled with blackheads and pimples, clay masks are your BFF. The key is to choose one that soaks up all excess oil and turns your complexion matte WITHOUT drying it out to boot.

I know that you hate sebum right now, but it is your skin’s natural moisturiser after all. Remove the excess and you’ve fixed all your troubles. Remove too much and you have to deal with oiliness AND dehydration. Ugh. It’s a balancing act. Here are the best clay mask for oily skin that strike just the right balance between oil removal and hydration:

Struggling to put together a skincare routine that banishes acne, blackheads, and excess oil? Download your FREE “Best Skincare Routine For Oily Skin” cheatsheet to get started (it features product recommendations + right application order):

What To Look For In A Clay Mask?

Clay masks should contain… *drumroll* clays! Clays absorb excess oil, leaving your skin matte, shine-free, and less prone to breakouts. But not all types of clays are created equal. Some are more absorbing them others. Some can cause irritations. Here are the best clays to look out for:

  • Bentonite Clay: One of the most absorbing clays, it works great for very oily skin.
  • Green Clay: It soaks up excess oil and balances the pH of your skin.
  • Kaolin Clay: A type of white clay that reduces excess oil and dirt.


What can clay masks do?

Clay masks can absorb excess oil and helps prevent acne. When your skin produces too much sebum, the excess gets stuck in the pores, leading to whiteheads, blackheads, and acne. By absorbing excess oil, you prevent this from happening.

What can’t clay masks do?

Clay masks CAN’T detoxify skin. That’s a job for your liver. And while some clays can remove some impurities from your pores, they can’t unclog them in the same way salicylic acid does. The latter gets way deeper into your pores, unclogging them from within.

Who should use a clay mask?

Combination, oily, and acne-prone skin. If you need to absorb excess oil, a clay mask is for you.

Who should NOT use a clay mask?

Dry skin. Normal skin. Clay masks can be drying. If your skin doesn’t produce excess oil, the clay mask will absorb the little you have and leave your skin parched and tight. Don’t be tempted by the marketing hype. This is a skincare product you DON’T need.

Can I use a clay mask if I have sensitive skin?

Yes, clay masks are suitable for sensitive skin – as long as you have excess oil to absorb. Look for clay mask with hydrating and soothing ingredients, like niacinamide, Hyaluronic Acid, green tea, and allantoin. Avoid clay masks with irritants, like fragrance, citrus oils, fragrant essential oils, menthol, and high concentrations of alcohol.

How often should you use a clay mask?

It depends how oily your skin is. Very oily skin can use a clay mask three nights a week. If it’s only slightly oily, once a week is more than enough.

How do you use a clay mask?

At night. Cleanse your skin, then apply a clay mask. Wait 15 minutes (or however long the instruction recommend it), rinse off with lukewarm water in circular motions. Then, apply the rest of your skincare routine as normal.

Can you leave a clay mask on overnight?

No, you should never leave a clay mask on overnight. It’ll dry out your skin too much.

Best Clay Masks For Oily & Congested Skin

Best Drugstore Clay Mask: L’Oreal Paris Pure Clay Detox & Brighten Clay Mask ($12.99)

Let’s get one thing straight: skincare products CAN’T detoxify skin. Getting rid of toxins is a job for your liver, not your clay mask. But, if you’re looking for a clay mask that absorbs excess oil, reduces shines, and helps prevents breakouts – without breaking the bank, this is it. Enriched with three different types of clay (kaolin, montmorillonite, and Moroccan lava clay), it’s a wonderful weekly treatment for oily and acne-prone skin. It’s also enriched with charcoal, another oil-absorbing active. Fun fact: charcoal gives the mask its black colour.

Available at: Boots, Sephora, and Ulta

  • Active Ingredients: Kaolin, Montmorillonite Clay, Moroccan Lava Clay.
  • Benefits: Absorbs excess oil; Affordable.
  • Cons: Contains fragrance, which can irritate sensitive skin.
  • Skin type: Oily and acne-prone skin.
  • Cruelty-free: No.

Best Clay Mask For Sensitive Skin: Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Oil-Absorbing Mask ($26.00)

Clays have a dark side: when they absorb TOO much oil, they can dry out and irritate sensitive skin. That doesn’t happen with Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Oil-Absorbing Mask. While Kaolin and bentonite clays soak up excess oil, colloidal oatmeal (yes, that’s oats!) and bisabobol soothe irritations. Plus, Paula also added glycerin and other moisture magnets to add moisture to the skin. The result? A matte, soft complexion.

Available at: Paula’s Choice

  • Active Ingredients: Kaolin, Bentonite, Glycerin, Colloidal oatmeal.
  • Benefits: Absorbs excess oil. Hydrates skin. Soothes irritations.
  • Cons: Like all clay masks, it’s messy to use.
  • Skin type: Oily and sensitive skin.
  • Cruelty-free: Yes.

Related: 9 Ways To Soothe Sensitive Skin

niod flavanone mud

Best Clay Mask For Acne-Prone Skin: Youth To The People Superclay Purify + Clear Power Mask with Niacinamide ($36.00)

This multi-tasking mask tackles acne on several fronts. The mix of volcanic, white, and green clays absorbs excess oil, so it won’t get stuck in your pores and cause breakouts. Niacinamide soothes the irritations and redness that always comes along with acne and shrinks your pores, so they look smaller. There’s also a little Salicylic acid, a powerful exfoliant that gets inside your pores and unclogs them from within to prevent and remove blackheads, whiteheads, and acne. FYI, you’ll still need a separate salicylic acid exfoliant to treat acne, but it’s cool there’s some of it here too. Plus, it’s formulated so well, it’s NOT drying at all!

Available at: Cult Beauty, Free People, Sephora

  • Active Ingredients: Kaolin, Bentonite, Montmorillonite, Niacinamide, Salicylic Acid.
  • Benefits: Absorbs excess oil. Soothes irritations. Fights acne.
  • Cons: Like all clay masks, it’s messy to use.
  • Skin type: Oily and acne-prone skin.
  • Cruelty-free: Yes.

Best Mess-Free Clay Mask: Niod Flavanone Mud (£29.00)

If I could only use one clay mask for the rest of my life, it’d be Niod Flavanone Mud. It’s totally mess-free. I’m not kidding. Usually when I use a clay mask, my sink gets all muddy. After I’m done with my skincare, I have to clean that mess up. Ugh. This does NOT happen with this clay mask. It uses a new dispersion mechanism that allows you to apply way less product. Translation: it’s easier to remove and feels more comfortable on the skin. While it’s on, it doesn’t feel like it’s cracking up and you can’t move your face. But what the heck does it contain? Clays to absorb excess oils, antioxidants to fight premature aging and soothing ingredients to calm down irritations. Niod has thought of everything!

Available at: Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty, and Niod

  • Active Ingredients: Montmorillonite, Kaolin, Bisabolol, Naringenin (Flavanone).
  • Benefits: Absorbs excess oil. Fights premature aging.
  • Cons: Stings a little.
  • Skin type: Oily skin.
  • Cruelty-free: Yes.

Related: Niod Flavanone Mask Full Review

Best Natural Clay Mask: Klur Supreme Seed Purification Mask ($60.00)

This is a very gentle clay mask for slight to moderate oily skin. While most clay mask run the risk of drying skin too much, this one is moisturising. While kaolin does its oil-absorbing job, the mix of natural butters moisturises skin, leaving it softer and matte. Plus, it’s with plant extracts that have antioxidant properties to fight premature aging. It’s a great choice for fans of natural skincare and women (and men) with dehydrated skin. Dehydrated skin often feels like it has a layer of grease on top of parched paper. This removes that greasy layer while moisturising parched skin.

Available at: Credo Beauty

  • Active Ingredients: Kaolin, Green Tea, Cacao Seed Butter.
  • Benefits: Absorbs excess oil. Moisturises skin. Fights premature wrinkles.
  • Cons: Expensive.
  • Skin type: Slightly to moderately oily skin and dehydrated skin.
  • Cruelty-free: Yes.

Related: What Are The Best Organic Skincare Products?

Best Clay Mask For Dehydrated Skin: FaceTheory Pink Clay AHA Face Mask M1 (£12.99)

AHA are a family of exfoliants that remove dead cells from the surface of your skin. There’s barely a drop of that here, so don’t expect this mask to exfoliate your skin. Instead, this is a great pick for dehydrated skin. Dehydrated skin is often oily and dry at the same time (confusing, right?). This mask uses a mix of absorbing clays and moisturising oils and butters to soak up excess oil and hydrate skin at the same time. It’s also fragrance-free, so it won’t irritate sensitive skin.

Available at: FaceTheory

  • Active Ingredients: Kaolin, Montmorillonite, Shea Butter, Argan Oil.
  • Benefits: Absorbs excess oil. Moisturises skin.
  • Cons: The concentration of AHA here is too little to exfoliate skin.
  • Skin type: Dehydrated skin.
  • Cruelty-free: Yes.
how bubble masks work

Best Clay Mask For Fun: Elizavecca Milky Piggy Carbonated Bubble Clay Mask (£20.00)

Elizavecca Milky Piggy Carbonated Clay Mask is SO gimmicky. That’s why I like it. I know, I know, a sciencey skincare blogger shouldn’t fall for gimmicks but hear me out here. This mask reacts to oxygen to form tiny little bubbles all over your face. It’s like you’re wearing a cloud. Isn’t that cool? It also does a great job at absorbing excess oil. It’s not the gentlest mask out there, so if you have sensitive skin, I’d avoid it. But if you want to have fun with your skincare and still see results, why not try it at least once?

Available at: iHerb, Stylevana and Yes Style

  • Active Ingredients: Kaolin, Bentonite, Green Tea, Charcoal Powder
  • Benefits: Absorbs excess oil. Turns your face into a cloud (ok, not a benefit, but cool).
  • Cons: It’s a bit gimmicky.
  • Skin type: Oily skin.
  • Cruelty-free: Yes.

Related: Are Bubble Masks More Than Just A Gimmick?

Best Exfoliating Clay Mask: The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Masque ($13.30)

If you’re a regular here, you know I’m on a fan of exfoliating masks. Exfoliants like salicylic acid need to stay on the skin for hours to work their best. If you remove them after 15 mins, you only get minimal benefits. But if you want to cut down one step into your routine or have sensitive skin that can’t tolerate salicylic acid on your skin for long, this’ll do. Salicylic acid is the only exfoliant that get inside your pores and unclog them from within to prevent and remove whiteheads, blackheads, and pimples. In the meantime, Kaolin and Silica absorb excess oil, leaving your skin clear and matte.

Available at: Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty, Sephora, The Ordinary, and Ulta

  • Active Ingredients: Kaolin, Silica, Salicylic acid.
  • Benefits: Absorbs excess oil. Exfoliates skin. Unclogs pores.
  • Cons: Salicylic acid works in leave-on products that rinse-off masks.
  • Skin type: Oily and sensitive skin.
  • Cruelty-free: Yes.

Final Verdict

If I had to choose just one clay mask, I’d pick Niod Flavanone Mask because it does the job and absorb excess oil without making a huge mess in my bathroom. But it stings a little. If you have sensitive skin, Paula’s Choice Skin-Balancing Oil-Absorbing Mask is a better option for you. If you’re looking for a fun experience, you’ll dig Elizavecca Milky Piggy Carbonated Bubble Clay Mask.