Bentonite clay is the best kept secret ingredient you need to bring life back to your dull, oily, acne-prone skin.
Bentonite clay has been used as a skin and scalp healing treatment since ancient times because of its unique therapeutic properties. Found today in an array of beauty products from face masks and cleansers to setting powders, what does bentonite clay actually do for your skin? And how can you cleverly add it into your skincare routine?
Here’s everything you need to know about bentonite clay benefits for skin, and how to use it to achieve and maintain healthy and radiant looking skin!
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WHAT IS BENTONITE CLAY?
Mineral-rich bentonite clay is an absorbent aluminium phyllosilicate clay made of weathered volcanic ash that is abundant in calcium, magnesium, and iron.
The calcium-rich clay is named after Fort Benton in Wyoming, United States of America, where its largest reserves have been discovered.
It is also known as montmorillonite clay, where the clay was first found in a region of central-western France called Montmorillon. Bentonite clay is also available across many countries all over the world.
However, bentonite itself is not a mineral; it is an umbrella term used to describe rocks that originate from ‘altered volcanic ash beds’. The volcanic ash beds or layers result from the accumulation of sedimentary deposits during volcanic eruptions.
When these volcanic ash layers are compacted and infiltrated with water, they transform into different types of clay based on their natural environments.
In acidic habitats, bentonite volcanic ash layers primarily turn into kaolinite. In mildly alkaline (seawater) environments, they change into smectites, and in highly alkaline environments, they become zeolites.
Montmorillonite clay, classified as a “healing clay”, is one type of smectite.
When water is mixed with bentonite clay, a paste is formed that is then applied on the skin or eaten in very small doses to help release negatively charged toxins from the body.
In light of its absorbent properties, bentonite clay has been used by different cultures throughout history, including European, Asian and African tribes to detoxify the skin, improve digestion, fight off bacteria, and purify the body internally from accumulated toxins.
In ancient cultures such as Iran, similar to Rhassoul clay, bentonite clay is used as part of a hair mask to cleanse and soften the hair and detoxify the scalp.
The clay is also popular with many animal breeds like horses and dogs because of its ability to draw toxins out of the skin.
BENEFITS OF BENTONITE CLAY FOR SKIN
Absorbs Excess Oil
Bentonite clay may help your skin better regulate sebum production by sucking up the excess oil produced by your skin. This might be beneficial for oily and acne-prone skin seeking to get rid of dead skin cells and achieve a mattifying skin appearance.
Has Wound And Ulcer Healing Properties
As a detoxifying agent, thanks to its highly absorptive properties, bentonite clay supports the skin barrier repair functions by drying out impurities from skin lesions and ulcers to accelerate the skin healing process.
Improves Skin Complexion
Regular use of bentonite clay mask may gradually help fade dark marks on the epidermis (the outer layer of skin), restore skin health, brighten and even out skin tone.
Minimises The Appearance Of Pores
Weekly use of bentonite clay is helpful in unclogging and tightening pores, making them appear more refined and your skin more unified in texture and softness.
Has Anti-inflammatory Properties
Bentonite clay is helpful in calming inflamed or irritated skin disorders such as acne, dermatitis, and skin rashes.
A study revealed that using a moisturising cream containing Quaternium-18-Bentonite helped improve chronic hand dermatitis in a majority of people with previously uncontrolled dermatitis.
A separate research in 2014 found out that bentonite clay is more effective and faster than calendula in the treatment of diaper dermatitis, a common skin disorder affecting babies and toddlers.
Protects Skin Against Environmental Pollutants
Bentonite clay has the ability to enhance the skin barrier function by protecting the skin from UV-induced light and other daily environmental pollutants found in the air, water, land, sound and temperature.
A study reported that adding bentonite in commercial sunscreens optimises the sunscreens’ ability to absorb the highest level of UV light, better adhere to the skin and repel water, making them more effective against damaging sun exposure.
May Help Minimise Fine Lines And Wrinkles
Consistent use of bentonite clay helps clear dead skin cells from the epidermis when used as a face mask, and maximise your skin protection from UV-induced free radical damage when added to a sun lotion. Both are helpful in slowing down the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and in supporting healthy skin ageing.
Additionally, a 2012 experimental study revealed that daily topical application of clay and retinoic acid with 0.025% strength on skin rats promotes an increase in collagen production. From a human perspective, this may suggest that bentonite clay may be helpful in supporting the skin cells renewal process, which is important in maintaining a healthy, supple, and youthful looking skin.
WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS OF BENTONITE CLAY?
At the moment there are no known serious side effects reported in the use of bentonite clay. However, people with sensitive and dry skin may consider using bentonite clay sparingly or added as an ingredient in a beauty product formulation, as it may further dry out their skin, leading to skin irritation.
The other important factor is to ensure that you select a well formulated product with bentonite clay that is approved by national and transnational regulatory bodies.
Make sure you source your bentonite clay only from reputable brands and health stores that only retail clay powders and products free from heavy metals, contaminants, or pesticides.
HOW TO USE BENTONITE CLAY FOR SKIN
Calcium rich bentonite clay is found either as a stand alone clay powder or as an ingredient in a wide range of beauty products including face masks, setting powders, cleansers, and sunscreens, just to name a few.
You can use mineral-rich bentonite clay in a variety of ways to improve your skin health.
As A Clay Mask
Investing in a high quality over-the-counter clay mask that you can apply one to three times per week or as recommended by the product manufacturer is an effective way to detoxify your face and fight off acne breakouts, eczema, and skin rashes.
Alternatively, go the DIY route by purchasing a bentonite clay mask that you can mix with purified water to obtain a homogenous clay paste that you can apply on your face once or thrice per week. The more adventurous amongst you can add a little bit of charcoal powder or a 1 or 2 drops of your favourite essential oil if your skin can tolerate these ingredients.
Leave the clay on your face for about 10 minutes as it dries out. Remove the clay gently with a wet cotton pad or washcloth.
As A Clay Poultice
Mix your dry bentonite clay with water and apply it as a paste directly to the inflamed area of your body or other wound and skin lesions that you wish to treat. Leave the clay poultice to dry and repeat the process at least once during the day.
In Mud Spas
For a full-body bentonite clay detox experience, head to a mud spa for a pelotherapy session, during which your body will be embalmed with clay to absorb toxins from skin and heat will be provided. This has been shown to improve circulation in rheumatism treatment (Carretero et al., 2014).
In A Cleanser
To enjoy the benefits of gently detoxing with bentonite clay, make sure you select a cleanser containing the word bentonite in the cleanser’ ingredients list. The added ingredient in a cleansing product helps unclog pores, combat blemishes, and mattify the face.
In A Sunscreen Lotion
When selecting your sunscreen, pick a mineral sunscreen such as Pai Skincare British Summer Time Sensitive Sunscreen that lists bentonite on its ingredients list. The bentonite clay helps soak up excess oil and provides an added layer of sun protection against damaging UVA and UVB rays.
TOP SKINCARE PRODUCTS WITH BENTONITE CLAY
As a safe, effective and relatively affordable ingredient, montmorillonite clay is extensively used in the formulation of many wellness and beauty products.
To find out whether the mineral rich clay is already part of your beauty or wellness routine, simply check the products’ ingredients list as a starting point.
Sometimes, the ingredient is incorporated in very small amounts in a product formula, as a little goes a long way when it comes to calcium bentonite clay’s effectiveness.
If you are considering adding bentonite clay into your skincare routine either as a face mask, a cleanser, or a sunscreen, below are some high-performing products worth investing in.
Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay 1 lb
The all natural, multi-purpose, and fragrance free calcium bentonite clay powder has earned its crown as the most effective deep cleansing montmorillonite mask for face, body, and hair.
Revered by people with oily and acne-prone skin, the additives free clay powder is effective in supporting the treatment of acne, blemishes, skin rashes and lesions. It also helps fade dark spots, brighten and unify skin tone when used as a face mask.
Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay powder can also be used as a clay poultice when mixed with water to support wound and ulcer healing. Moreover, it helps reduce the scalp’s redness and dryness.
SkinCeuticals Clarifying Clay Masque 67g
Kiss goodbye to dull and tired looking skin with this deeply nourishing face mask that combines bentonite and kaolin clays with citrus and rose plant extracts to restore your skin health and radiance.
The potent mineral rich clays enriched with a blend Hydroxy Acids and botanicals lift away impurities, helping you to gently exfoliate your skin, get rid of dead skin cells, decongest your pores, and lift away excess oil.
The gentle and non-drying face mask contains calming cucumber, chamomile and aloe vera plant extracts to soothe the face, leaving you with noticeably healthy, mattified, and radiant skin. The face mask works well for people with oily, normal, combination skin types.
Dr. Hauschka Soothing Cleansing Milk 145ml
The gentle cleansing milk helps remove makeup and skin impurities, leaving you with a clean, nourished, and more supple face.
The clever combination of bentonite clay with anthyllis, jojoba oil, apricot oil, and almond oil helps cleanse skin whilst supporting the skin’s natural protective barrier function, balancing oil production, and soothing dry and irritated areas.
This gentle cleanser is ideal for people with sensitive skin, especially if you are seeking to minimise the appearance of redness or skin rashes.
Pai Skincare British Summer Time Sensitive Sunscreen 40ml
Formulated with Zinc Oxide and Bentonite, this non-greasy mineral sunscreen is a fantastic option to protect your skin from damaging UVA and UVB rays.
The bentonite clay enhances the sunscreen’s ability to protect your skin from UV-induced free radical damage and helps the sunscreen better adhere to your skin.
The lightweight and non-irritating vegan formula enriched with jojoba oil is a great base for makeup, as it leaves a faint white cast and it works well for sensitive and eczema prone skin.
Chantecaille SeaScreen 30 Mineral Broad-Spectrum Sunscreen Mist SPF30
The Chantecaille Sun Cream SPF30 is a lightweight, water-resistant formula that protects against the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB rays.
The family friendly mineral sunscreen delivered in a reef-safe mist formula is infused with bentonite, shea butter, sunflower oil, and aloe vera to maximimise sun protection whilst soothing and adding moisture to skin to strengthen its protective barrier function.
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Moosavi M. (2017). Bentonite clay as a natural remedy: A brief review.
Valenti et al (2012). Effect of topical clay application on the synthesis of collagen in skin: an experimental study
Williams L.B. and Haydel S.E. (2010). Evaluation of the medicinal use of clay minerals as antibacterial agents
J F Fowler Jr (2001). A skin moisturizing cream containing Quaternium-18-Bentonite effectively improves chronic hand dermatitis
Adib-Hajbaghery M. et al (2014). The effects of Bentonite and Calendula on the improvement of infantile diaper dermatitis
Movahedi M. M. et al (2014). Production of a Novel Mineral-based Sun Lotion for Protecting the Skin from Biohazards of Electromagnetic Radiation in the UV Region
Carretero M.I. et al (2014). Assessment of three Spanish clays for their use in pelotherapy