In the realm of skincare, clay masks reign supreme as one of the best face masks for men, with super-charged benefits. From brightening the skin and evening discoloration to detoxifying pores and treating acne, the best clay masks are like magnets for the bad stuff and are multifaceted in terms of performance.
At SPY, we talk a lot about finding the right skincare routine for ourselves, and we think it’s important to add a clay mask to the lineup. But the best clay mask for each of us depends on the unique skin type and skin concerns we have with special consideration for ingredients that won’t harmfully affect the skin. While there are several kinds of clay masks infused with natural clays, like bentonite and kaolin, each one has mineral-rich deposits that refine and rebalance even the toughest dudes’ mugs.
After weeks of trial and error, while using some of the best clay masks, we’ve finally narrowed down our list of the ones you have to try. Let’s get you up to speed on our findings as we dive into what clay masks do for your skin and which ones belong in your shopping cart.
The Best Clay Masks At a Glance
What Do Clay Masks Do?
When you use the best clay mask, it’s like a jack of all trades — it’ll brighten skin complexion, absorb excess oils and toxins, boost circulation, prevent breakouts and blackheads, restore the skin’s balance, and much more. The benefits are truly incessant. But, were you aware of their ability to reduce the signs of aging?
As we get older, we tend to develop fine lines and wrinkles that put a crack in our appearance. If we could reverse the wheel and look young forever with flawless skin, then we’d have our way. Thankfully, some clay masks also have ingredients that work to fix damaged skin cells and help in the production of collagen.
Ingredients to Look Out For in the Best Clay Masks
Another thing to note when shopping for the best clay masks is that you’ll see two types of clay pop up often in the ingredients so it’s best to get to know them.
- Bentonite clay: Bentonite clay is an absorbent aluminum phyllosilicate clay (a product of volcanic ash), with documented detoxifying capabilities. In short, a lot of toxins have a negative charge and bentonite clay has some positive charge, leading to the absorption of the bad stuff. It has also been shown to diminish some kinds of dermatitis (rashes, common skin irritation), help heal skin lesions and kill some bacteria when mixed with water (which all skin care formulations will do).
- Kaolin clay: Kaolinite, which constitutes kaolin clay (also known as China clay), is a clay mineral that helps remove oils, grime, and toxins from the skin as well as aid in the repairing of blemishes.
How to Use a Clay Mask
Doesn’t all this sound great? Now, the thing is, if you decide to insert a clay mask into your routine, you have to limit your use. You can’t just go smearing it every day or else it’ll actually dry out your skin (which negates the whole reason for using one). Instead, this is a great step to add for a Sunday night before the workweek starts and possibly also as a mid-week pick-me-up.
- Use enough clay to evenly cover your face, starting from the bottom and working your way up.
- Take a seat, relax and let the mask dry and work its magic for 5-15 minutes. (Be sure to follow the product’s recommendations)
- Rinse your face with warm water or a damp washcloth to remove the mask.
- Presto — that’s about it. Enjoy your firmer, cleansed skin.
Okay — let’s start the show. Below, we’ve highlighted the best clay masks for men based on what SPY editors have been using up to now.
|Features||Willow Tree Extract|
Disco’s rejuvenating clay mask received a 2021 Man Award honor in SPY’s end-of-year product awards. Two years later, we can vouch and say it still deserves a gold-star rating. The mask follows a vegan formula, merging natural ingredients such as willow bark extract and Carica papaya fruit extract to purify, restore, and even skin tone.
In our testing, we discovered two things: a) don’t leave the mask on too long or it’ll cause irritation and b) the combination of bentonite clay and charcoal is an incredibly effective deep cleaner. They’re potent in cleansing and exfoliating as well as drawing out grime and impurities to the surface.
Enriched with willow bark extract, the mask minimizes inflammation and puffiness, preventing breakouts and blemishes from occurring. In the end, your skin will be left looking fine and refreshed. Even though you’re going to come out of pocket, it’ll be some time before you have to re-up.
- Natural Ingredients
- Evens skin tone
It’s no mystery we love Aesop products. In fact, one SPY editor’s skincare routine starts and ends with this Australian luxury brand. They’re a reliable source for everything from skin and hair care products to soaps and some of the nicest unisex fragrances. That said, Aesop’s Primrose Facial Cleansing Masque is remarkable for its contents, efficiency, and lasting power.
If you’re looking for one of the best clay masks to get in there and simply cleanse your skin of residual impurities, Aesop’s masque is your best bet. It decongests, balances uneven skin, and delivers replenishing vegetable oils. Once it’s rinsed off, we found our skin felt so much richer and new. This is largely due to active ingredients such as rose geranium, primrose seed, and sage leaf.
Aside from Aesop’s cleanser, toner, and serum, which are daily use products, their body scrub, and cleansing masque are key must-haves. Be prepared to spend money, but make no mistake, it’ll be money well spent.
- Goes a long way
- Hefty price tag
|Features||Climate Neutral Certified|
Versed has a purpose — to provide high performance with products that take care of our skin, body, and planet. SPY’s Reviews Editor fell in love with the brand’s purifying mask and has declared it the best clay mask for men (and women) with a SPY 2022 End of Year Award. The Versed Find Clarity Charcoal Mask arrives in a handy pouch and is formulated with two types of clay (kaolin and bentonite) and two types of charcoal.
Designed to detoxify, this purifying mask has a gentle formula and creamy consistency that spreads almost like a puree — leaving your skin feeling soft and balanced. A small dab of this, about the size of a nickel, is what’s needed to cover your face. In addition to his amazing experience, it earned bonus points for being pregnancy-safe, containing super clean ingredients, and leaving out the bad.
- Free from parabens, silicones, sulfates, and 1,350+ ingredients that have questionable data
- Pouch easily puncturable
|Scent||Smells like clay|
|Features||Amazonian White Clay|
Powered by Amazonian white clay, Kiehl’s Rare Earth Deep Pore Minimizing Clay Face Mask is the softest, most luxurious face mask we’ve ever got our hands on. The handy treatment aims to fight acne and suck the dirt out of pores. And to be honest, it gets that job done.
However, if you looking for instant gratification, you won’t find it here — you need to give it some time. After a few weeks, we saw a major difference in our skin. It was cleaner, pores felt tighter, and there was noticeably less oil and fewer blemishes. While the main downside of the product is the price tag, you can’t put a price on results.
- Quality ingredients
- Without parabens/phthalates
- It’s bulky but there is a travel size
|Size||2.25 fl oz|
Full Review: Caldera + Lab’s The Deep Face Mask is My New Favorite.
Caldera + Lab is a relatively new grooming brand but has become one of our favorite skincare brands in the last couple of years. One of our favorites from their curated collection is their conscious clay mask, The Deep. It’s vegan, made of top-notch ingredients including five different types of clay, and comes in a cool-looking, sustainable metal tube.
Looking for a clay mask that offers deep exfoliation? Or balances skin with enough moisture? And perhaps gives you an overall brighter tone? This unsuspecting tube checks all those boxes and more. It has a soft mud texture that goes on evenly, and a little can take you pretty far — a quality we seek in all of our skincare goods but especially the best clay mask.
As for flaws, it can be a bit runny and sort of difficult to shake up in attempts to circumvent the runniness. Also, it doesn’t really have a scent. Now, if you’re somebody who relishes in smelling stuff, you’ll be missing that here, but this might be the best clay mask for guys who don’t like scented products.
- Free of phthalates and parabens
- Green production facility
- Lacks viscosity
|Scent||Avocado, Aloe Vera|
|Features||Alpha Hydroxy Acid|
And here we have another SPY award winner. Our grooming editors named Baxter’s Clay Mask AHA the “Best Clay Mask” in The 2020 Man Awards, our end-of-year product awards. It was one of the first-ever clay masks marketed toward men to hit the market and even in 2023, the long-standing brand still beats out many emerging products in the men’s skincare world.
The power in this clay mask lies within the ingredients. With Alpha Hydroxy Acid, or AHA, this ultra-cleansing clay mask exfoliates the skin while also working to reduce signs of aging, eliminate dry skin, and balance skin tone. It’s got a nice earthy scent and feels so smooth and satisfying once it’s been rinsed off. All you need is about a nickel-sized amount to complete the job and rid of any lingering blemishes.
- Premium ingredients
- A little costly
|Features||French Green Clay, Matcha Green Tea|
If you’re afraid of a slight tingle, no need to panic. In our testing, we found sometimes guys just like having that invigorating sensation from their clay mask. That’s exactly what we got with the Crude Detox Purifying + Balancing Clay Mask. To form the mask, it requires you to mix two powerhouse ingredients, French Green Clay and Matcha Green Tea Powder, with water for a powder-like substance.
Yes, it’s a little hands-on and can get somewhat messy, but it’s nothing you can’t handle — you’ve got this. One SPY editor swears by this mask and how it leaves his face feeling ultra-revitalized and highly recommends using it one to three times a week.
- 100% certified organic ingredients
- Application can get messy
How We Determined the Best Clay Masks for Men
Here at SPY, we love to sift through an assortment of products to figure out which ones work the best, and that’s what we did to find the best clay mask. We tested a little over a dozen of the most popular products based on reviews on the internet and narrowed it down accordingly.
To do this, we assigned each product a numeric score based on the below factors. We then took an average and got our top choices. Here are the criteria we used to determine the best clay masks for men:
Exfoliation — First, we looked to see whether the mask exfoliates, unclogging the skin to uncover fresh new faces.
Chemicals — What’s NOT in the ingredients? We scored higher for products free of parabens, sulfates, silicones, aluminum, phthalates, and all the bad stuff you don’t want on your face.
Vegan/Animal-Friendly — We upped the rankings on products that were cruelty-free and not harmful to animals as well as humans.
Application — We wanted to know what the price per ounce was based on how much was needed to cover a face. We thought the best clay masks would go a long way with just a little product.
Scent — If there was a gratifying fragrance that imbued our nose, bonus points were rewarded.
Travel-Friendly — We looked to see if the products were 3.4 oz or less to meet the TSA requirement and fit in our carry-on luggage. When you love your grooming products that much, you might want to bring them everywhere.
Why Trust SPY When Choosing The Best Clay Masks for Men
Discovering the most effective grooming products is our passion here at SPY. We dedicate weekends upon weekends to research in order to find hot and trending products.
We’re lucky to have a handful of tastemakers and skincare experts on staff who regularly conduct testing and reviews who, subsequently, contributed to this article. If there’s one thing we’re proud of, it’s this type of transparency and not withholding the dirty details of products because, in the end, we want to do right by you.
Aside from the best clay masks, we’re been scorching hot on grooming reviews in the last few months. Recently, we’ve reviewed the best acne patches, the best hair tonic for men, and even the Dr. Dennis Gross LED Face Mask, which is a must see to believe.
If you’re interested, you can read more about How We Test Products at SPY.
About the Author
Joseph Cheatham is an e-commerce editor for SPY.com covering all the verticals — though he has an affinity for all things fragranced and fashion-related. A Howard University graduate hailing from South Jersey, Joseph loves to help others show up as their best selves. Joseph has written about the best hair tonic for men, what men should don during yoga, and also shared how his DTC candle brand came to fruition during the pandemic.
When he isn’t writing or candle making, Joseph enjoys exercising, shopping, and traveling. Residing in New York City, he spends a lot of time admiring the latest art and design at exhibitions, dining in the East Village, and partaking in outdoor activities. But most of all, Joseph values intimate moments with friends and family.