Search “Face Mask” on Amazon, and you’ll get over 10,000 results of beauty products promising smoother, clearer, better skin.
When you have that number in mind, wading through the endless pages of product results seems daunting. But then there’s the $11 Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay. It uses 100 percent Bentonite clay in a deep-pore mask and has risen to notoriety among celebrities, like Khloé Kardashian and Mindy Kaling, and Amazon shoppers alike.
The label describes the clay as the “World’s Most Powerful Facial.” It can be used on the face or body, and works to detox skin by giving pores a deep cleanse. Although I can’t speak to whether or not the mask is truly the world’s most powerful facial, it has nearly 4.5 stars and over 15,000 reviews, landing it the No. 1 spot on Amazon’s “Best Sellers in Facial Masks” list. It also owns the No. 6 spot in the Amazon Top 100 “Best Sellers in Skin Care Products” list, an impressive feat, given the all the competition.
Glowing comments for the Aztec Secret bestseller range from “Works Miracles. Consistently.” to “Literally the best mask I’ve ever used.”
Other users have touted its benefits for treating everything from blackheads to eczema.
Plus, at only $11 for what seems like a lifetime supply, it’s a serious steal.
I usually take reviews with a grain of salt, but this product lives up to its hype — at least on paper. It’s packed with Bentonite clay, which dermatologist Michele Farber, MD, of the Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City says is a great anti-inflammatory. She says that the formula’s absorbent properties make it ideal for those with oily, acne-prone skin, but the product can also suit those with normal and combination skin.
“The mask is also versatile since it can be prepared in different ways to suit your needs,” she notes. Although face masks are typically mixed with water, Aztec Secret suggests using apple cider vinegar instead. “Be careful with this — if your skin is sensitive, it may be irritating or overly drying,” says Farber, who recommends mixing the clay with water for a more gentle version of the mask. To avoid any sort of irritation, Farber also suggests spot testing the product before slathering it onto your face.
Something I decidedly did not do before I gave it a try.
The mask arrives as a powder in a 1-pound tub and has to be mixed with liquid into a paste.
After a brief misstep of accidentally mixing the powder with apple cider concentrate my mom bought for Thanksgiving, I whipped up my mask with what I thought was the proper clay-to-apple cider vinegar ratio. Call me lazy, but as someone who prefers her masking ritual to be kept as simple and mess-free as possible (I’m a sheet mask kind of girl), I really hated that I had to mix the clay myself. Even after measuring exact equal parts of the two ingredients, I found myself pouring more and more of each to get the proper consistency. By the time it was smooth with no lumps, I had enough clay mask to last me through the new year.
Since no application tool was included with the mask, I slapped it on using a spatula from my mom’s kitchen (sorry, Mom) and was pleasantly surprised by how smooth the mixture was. There were none of the gross globs that often come with clay masks. It was really, really messy though, and my bathroom, hair and shirt were covered in the stuff by the time I had successfully coated my face.
The instructions suggest leaving the mask on for five minutes if you have sensitive skin or 10 to 15 minutes for normal skin — so I opted for a 12-minute treatment. I didn’t love the fact that my face smelled like apple cider vinegar for nearly a quarter of an hour, but I suffered through it for the sake of my skin.
After my time was up, the mask was dry but not flaky, which made me think I had probably put on too much. And let me just say: Taking it off was nothing short of a feat. I felt like Jim Carrey at the end of The Mask and ruined two washcloths. I would recommend using warm water and resisting the urge to scrub too hard since that will make matters only worse. As soon as my face was free of the green goo, I understood immediately that the beauty was well worth the pain.
My pores were extra clean and my skin was so tight that I felt like I had just walked out of a fancy facial session. I topped off my newly radiant skin with a layer of Sunday Riley Tidal moisturizer ($22), and I had a full-on glow that lasted all day long. In the morning I used the mask, I was also dealing with two cystic suckers that had seemingly popped up overnight, and both of them dried out significantly afterward.
Needless to say, I will be leaving the Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay mask its next glowing review — it might just be No. 16,000.