AZTEC SECRET INDIAN HEALING CLAY
Have you heard of Aztec Healing Clay? The most buzzed-about beauty product on Reddit right now has actually been around for ages.
The label on the jar of this old-school mask, which costs only nine dollars on Amazon, boasts that it is the "world's most powerful facial." A friend who has battled acne for years swears by Aztec's pore-cleansing mojo, and she's not the only one: Its Amazon listing currently has 3,600 mostly positive reviews.
So yeah, Aztec Healing Clay has a serious cult following. But what exactly is it? And should you be using it, stat?
The only ingredient in the product is calcium bentonite clay, which you mix with either water or apple-cider vinegar to make a paste. "Bentonite clay is highly absorbent and helps remove excess oil from the skin," says Joshua Zeichner, a dermatologist in New York City. The clay alone won't eliminate acne-causing bacteria, but the clay-and-vinegar mixture might. "Apple-cider vinegar has antimicrobial properties that may help by killing excess propionibacterium acne bacteria on the skin," says Zeichner. (Fun fact: The combination can also soothe insect bites, says Zeichner.)
The instructions on the bottle are a bit alarming. They suggest applying a one-quarter- to one-half-inch-thick layer of mud to your face and leaving it on for 15 to 20 minutes (or five to ten for sensitive skin). The label warns of a strong pulling sensation and skin redness afterward—seriously, it even says in all caps, "FEEL YOUR FACE PULSATE!" Um...is that normal? According to cosmetic chemist Randy Schueller, it is. "Anytime you agitate the skin—with either the physical action of the clay tightening it or the chemical irritation that may be caused by the acetic acid in the vinegar—some reddening could occur," he says.
So is Aztec Healing Clay safe? We say go for it, but don't go crazy with it. Both Zeichner and Schueller recommend using it no more than once a week. "Any more could lead to skin dryness and irritation," says Zeichner. There's one more quirky instruction on the jar warning that you shouldn't mix the mask in a metal bowl because it will cause the clay to lose its negative charge. Schueller is calling B.S. on that. "A number of websites say that contact with metal will cause the clay to become less effective or lose its 'magnetic charge,'" says Schueller. "This is simply not true. Bentonite clay contains salts that create an ionic charge when dissolved in water, but metal has no effect on this."
How to make a DIY turmeric mask: