This $11 clay mask has more than 15,000 reviews on Amazon—is it worth buying?

I've been using this clay mask for years—here's why I swear by it

Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar
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It seems like every day the beauty industry debuts new products that target every inch of your body. Want to make your skin glow? There’s a toner or serum for that. Skin feeling parched lately? There are masks that can give your skin the big dose of hydration it needs. There are even products infused with CBD now—and well, who knows what they do, but they’re trendy, and in the beauty industry, that counts for a lot.

But some products have been on the scene for ages and have developed a cult following. They’re not expensive and the brands don’t spend millions on marketing, but everyone loves them. One of the biggest on Amazon is the Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay mask. With close to 16,000 reviews and a near perfect 5-star rating, it’s safe to say there’s just something about it.

We’ve mentioned the mask before as one of Amazon’s cult-favorite beauty products to keep an eye on. The Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay claims to deliver “the world’s most powerful facial”—but what does that even mean? If you’re wondering what makes this mask so special, you’re not the only one. That’s why I decided to take a closer look at the face mask I've been using for seven years.

Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay Mask Tub
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

This unusually affordable and impressive beauty must-have is so popular for a reason: it works!

What’s it made of?

I started using Aztec Secret when a friend pointed it out during a trip to Whole Foods. I was willing to try anything that could help my oily, acne-prone skin, especially something under $10. After the first use, I was pretty hooked and I have been using it for the last seven years.

The product itself is pretty simple. It’s 100% calcium bentonite clay, which could possibly aid in digestion and remove toxins from the body. When mixed with a liquid (most people use raw apple cider vinegar or water), you can apply it directly to your skin.

“Bentonite clay draws out toxins from your skin, exfoliates, and helps control excess sebum,” says Milly Almodovar, on-air lifestyle and beauty expert and former senior beauty editor of Cosmopolitan for Latinas. “Also, when you combine it with vinegar it has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties as well.”

Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

Making the clay mask recipe wasn't too tricky, and you get a lot for your money.

Although the company claims that a one-pound jar should be enough to make up to 15 masks, in my experience, a single jar is way more than just a dozen or so applications. I’ve had one last for more than a year—it’s all about how frequently you use it. That’s major bang for your beauty buck.

When it comes to mixing it, the company suggests using a 1-to-1 ratio of clay and liquid. Since I’m one of those people who refuse to measure, I just eyeball it. I start with the clay and then add apple cider vinegar until it’s a pudding-like consistency.

Mixing the mask
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

For extra benefits, lots of people, including the reviewer, use ACV instead of water to create their paste.

But one major thing to note is that you need to use a non-metal bowl and utensils when mixing the mask, as it can become less effective when the clay encounters metal. I use a silicone bowl set, which includes a spatula for mixing and a brush. I used to apply the mask with my fingers, as the model in the photo below is doing. It worked fine, but the silicone brush just makes cleanup so much easier.

Applying the clay mask
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

You can use a silicone brush to apply the mask if you want to make less mess, but your fingers will do the trick too.

How long should you keep it on?

How long you leave the mask on can depend on a few factors, including how much liquid you added and the thickness of the layer you applied. I typically leave mine on for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the clay has hardened and my face feels like it’s starting to crack. The jar instructs those with delicate skin to limit use to five to 10 minutes.

The jar states, “feel your face pulsate!” in all caps and red letters, but to me it just feels like a weird sensation as the mask hardens. Regardless of how you describe the feeling, it’s a great thing for your skin, says Almodovar. “It's actually the clay drying. As it's drying, it is pulling the toxins out of your skin.”

Personally, I use this twice a month to keep my acne in check. Sometimes I don’t apply it to my entire face but will use it as a spot treatment for problematic areas like my chin or cheeks.

Face side by side
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

Patrice uses the mask, modeled here by staffer Courtney Campbell, about twice per month to help control skin issues.

Does it work the same for everyone?

The company claims that this clay can lead to clearer pores and shrink the size of pimples, leading to brighter, smoother skin. However, some reviewers (including a few Reviewed employees) mentioned that it may result in redness for some. Even if you don’t have fair skin, you may notice a lot of redness after removing the mask. This can be pretty shocking for some, but it usually goes away after less than 30 minutes.

Another issue that some have is with cleaning up and removing the mask. Since it’s clay that’s hardened on your face, it’s important to be careful about not clogging your drains with the clay chunks. A few solutions? I use a mesh drain strainer that’ll catch any clumps. Another popular solution is to take a warm cloth and place it over your face. That warmth breaks down any thicker, clumpier portions of the clay and then you can just wipe any remnants away. It’s also important not to apply such a thick layer of the mask on your skin.

Mask in use
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

The mask cracks as it dries, creating a "grayscale" look that is much easier to remove with the help of a warm, damp washcloth.

So what’s the big secret?

Almodovar thinks two main factors have made Aztec Secret a favorite: price and instant results.

“I think the mask is so popular because it's super affordable and it works. You see immediate results after using it,” says Almodovar, who has been using the mask herself for more than 20 years.

While Almodovar believes the mask is best suited for combination to oily skin because it absorbs excess sebum, it can be used for anyone who wants to detox their skin.

But it’s not just for the face either. The clay works well for body wraps, insect bites, and you can even drop a few scoops in your tub. Also, the same toxin-removing qualities apply for using the clay on your hair. It can remove any build up and can be a great way to seriously cleanse the scalp.

Though I’ve been using the mask for years, I still find myself occasionally making too much for one application. Instead of wasting it, I store the excess in a small container. There doesn’t seem to be a definite answer on how long the mask can last after it’s been mixed, but I keep a small jar in my medicine cabinet and use within a week or so as a spot treatment. And if it gets dry, just add some drops of apple cider vinegar.

Prices are accurate at the time this article was published, but may change over time.

Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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