Isn’t it curious how sometimes old-fashioned remedies and beauty secrets work the best? Clay has been used for centuries by indigenous peoples in cosmetics. Specifically, bentonite clay —named after Fort Benton,Wyoming where it was first discovered in North America—is a hot skin care topic on Reddit recently. It is a grey or cream-colored powdery substance formed when volcanic ash has weathered, or when it is exposed to water.
Bentonites belong to a group of clay minerals called smectites or hydrous aluminum silicates containing iron, magnesium, calcium or sodium. Bentonite clay is classified according to the dominant mineral component in it. Sodium and calcium bentonite are the most common, and both have a different purpose.
Bentonite clay has been used externally and internally for medicinal, health, and beauty purposes since ancient times.1 Years ago, in the absence of pharmaceutical drugs and other medical treatments, people relied heavily on nature’s ingredients to help alleviate illness. The same goes for taking care of their skin.
At present, bentonite clay is still commonly used as remedy for various skin issues due to its therapeutic and non-therapeutic benefits.2
As an ancient Aztec beauty secret to a modern day treatment, here are the benefits of bentonite clay on the skin.
Helps Reduce Acne
People with oily skin are usually more prone to acne. Acne forms when excessive oil produced by overactive sebum glands clog your pores and trap dead skin cells or bacteria inside.3
Minimizing the oil on your skin with external methods may help to reduce acne breakouts. A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology showed that subjects with acne breakouts had three times more oil secretion than those people with no acne, and that the use of mesh gauze laced with bentonite clay had desirable effects in reducing the oil.4
Now this is some cool science: Bentonite itself has a strong negative electromagnetic charge. If you mix bentonite clay with apple cider vinegar and apply it to the skin, it may actually help to attract positively charged impurities and toxins. Yep, it’s a magnet, absorbing toxins, helping to tighten pores, and, hopefully, preventing the clogging that can lead to acne.5
Restores the Glow of Your Skin
The skin is the largest organ of the body. It is also the organ most exposed to external toxins, including pollution, dirt, and a heavy use of skincare products and cosmetics. We all know that toxins, impurities, and the buildup of dead skin cells can make the skin look dull and tired. That’s where bentonite clay comes into play.
Detoxing with bentonite clay may help bring back the skin’s glow. Being adsorptive, it attracts toxins and impurities deep in the skin, and it can help remove accumulated dead skin cells. If you’re unfamiliar with the word adsorptive, it is a property of a material wherein it attracts other substance with an opposite electrical charge to form a bond. Bentonite clay has a negative charge, while most toxins and impurities have a positive charge.6
Reveals a Healthy Skin from the Inside
Apart from detoxing your skin, you can also detox your body with bentonite clay, which will also benefit your skin.
Cleaning agents, insecticides, products you use on your body, the drugs you take, and the foods you eat may contain substances that are harmful to the body. Some of them may even contain heavy toxins or metals, such as mercury, lead, and benzene.
Your body has a way of filtering and eliminating these toxins with the aid of the liver, kidneys, lungs, colon, and the skin. However, due to constant exposure to these toxins, the body’s mechanism for handling these toxins may not be able to keep up. Toxins will eventually accumulate in the bloodstream which may lead to health problems.
One of the signs that there is too much toxins in your body is the occurrence of persistent skin problems and allergies that won’t easily go away with treatments.7
Detoxing your body with bentonite may help improve your skin’s condition. Bentonite clay’s absorptive and adsorptive properties can help eliminate toxins, heavy metals, bacteria, and other harmful microorganisms in your gut before it gets absorbed into your bloodstream. Bentonite clay is not dissolvable and cannot be digested. Therefore the positively charged harmful substances will be eliminated from your body.8
If you’re interested in trying it out as a cleanse, make sure to buy internal bentonite clay. And consult your doctor before you do, especially if you’re taking prescription drugs.
Relieves Common Skin Problems
Psoriasis and eczema are common skin problems. Both have no permanent cure and treatment mainly relies on managing the symptoms with varying prescription or over-the-counter skincare products. However, people who suffer from these skin problems may have highly-sensitive skin. Choosing products to relieve symptoms may be challenging, because they may contain irritants that can trigger or exacerbate symptoms. Moreover, people with psoriasis and eczema are prone to skin infection caused by bacteria and other microorganisms.9,10
It is believed that using bentonite clay may help to alleviate or to prevent flare-ups of symptoms due it to its adsorptive properties. It does not contain chemicals, and it is hypoallergenic, so it is not as likely to cause adverse reactions in people with sensitive skin.11,12
Beautifying Uses of Bentonite Clay
There are two types of bentonite clay, sodium and calcium bentonite. Each has its own purpose but some brands use a combination of both in their bentonite products. Sodium bentonite is mainly used for detoxing the skin. Since sodium bentonite is a great absorber of water, it may cause constipation when taken internally. Calcium bentonite can be used on the skin, but it is mainly used for detoxing the body.13
There are several ways to use bentonite clay externally. You can make your own face mask or hair mask.
Bentonite Clay face mask
To make your own bentonite face mask, you’ll need equal parts of the clay and water depending on how much you will need to fully cover your face and a plastic spoon and bowl.14 Then follow these simple steps:
- Mix the clay and water until it has a paste consistency.
- Apply the mixture on your face evenly with your fingers.
- Let the mask dry on you face before rinsing it off with plain water.
Bentonite Clay hair mask
A bentonite clay hair mask helps remove impurities and dirt from your hair to restore its natural shine.15 To make your own hair mask, you’ll need:
3/4 cup sodium bentonite clay
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup of brewed herbal tea or water
10 drops of an essential oil
Then, follow these easy steps:
- Mix the ingredient together and it should form a yogurt-like consistency. Adjust portions if necessary.
- You can add almond oil for dry hair.
If we told you at the outset that slathering your face in dirt was beneficial, would you have read this far? Probably not. But science supports the possibility that bentonite clay, which is, let’s face it, dirt, actually has many beautifying properties for skin and hair.
P.S. And as always, check with your doctor before using Bentonite clay, topically or internally, if you have any medical condition or taking any medication.
2Kos K. History and Benefits of Clay | Ancient Minerals. Ancient-mineralscom. 2016. Accessed October 3, 2016.
3Burke D. Acne: Causes, Risk Factors, and Treatment. Healthlinecom. 2016. Accessed October 3, 2016.
4Harris H, Downing D, Stewart M, Strauss J. Sustainable rates of sebum secretion in acne patients and matched normal control subjects. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 1983;8(2):200-203. doi:10.1016/s0190-9622(83)70023-x.
5Which Clay is Best For Your Skin Type? Bentonite Clay for Acne – Holistic Health Herbalist. Holistic Health Herbalist. 2012. Accessed October 3, 2016.
6Which Clay is Best For Your Skin Type? Bentonite Clay for Acne – Holistic Health Herbalist. Holistic Health Herbalist. 2012. Accessed October 3, 2016.
7Hills J. This Paste Can Suck Out Toxins Through The Pores Of Your Skin. Healthy and Natural World. 2013. Accessed October 3, 2016.
8Lagaly G. Bentonites: adsorbents of toxic substances. Progress in Colloid & Polymer Science.:61-72. doi:10.1007/bfb0115705.
9Flour M. The pathophysiology of vulnerable skin. Worldwidewoundscom. 2009. Accessed October 3, 2016.
10Flour M. The pathophysiology of vulnerable skin. Worldwidewoundscom. 2009. Accessed October 3, 2016.
11Zimmerman (Schianetz) B. 5 Amazing Bentonite Clay Benefits to Boost Your Health. 2016. Accessed October 3, 2016.
12Edwards C. Beat Psoriasis and Eczema With Bentonite Clay For Skin!. SpiritDetoxcom. 2016. Accessed October 3, 2016.
13Bentonite Minerals,Calcium Bentonite,Sodium Bentonite,Calcium Bentonite Clay.Mineralszonecom. 2016. Accessed October 3, 2016.
14Bentonite Clay Mask Recipe for Clear and Glowing Skin. Health Extremist. 2014. Accessed October 3, 2016.
15Bhagyalekshmi. Bentonite Clay for Hair – Learn How It Works!. Good Health Academy. 2016. Accessed October 3, 2016.