The $7 Face Mask That Will Make You Believe in Face Masks

It's like magic for your face, people.

aztec clay mask 2
I’m not easily sold on face masks. I used to try them all, from made-at-home avocado masks to cost-me-one-month’s-worth-of-disposable-income mud masks from Sephora, but none of them ever made my skin look “radiant” or “rejuvenated” or any of the other words the packaging or blog posts I found them on promised. So I gave up on them. I’d rather eat my avocados, thank you very much!

Then, awhile back, I was reading the beauty blog Into the Gloss when I came across a post on bentonite clay masks which highlighted Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay, a 100-percent calcium bentonite clay powder that you mix with equal parts apple cider vinegar to create a mask that, if the post’s comments were any indication, is pure magic. Just an example: “… the BENEFITs are PHENOMENAL LIKE TOTAL ACNE BEGONE I can have TONS of those pesky forehead pimples and swipe some of this & agh it feels so good to feel.” And there were many more like this (though, most not with quite as many caps).

I hopped on over to find it on Amazon (a one-pound jar of it costs $7.65), where it has 4.5 stars and over 4,000 customer reviews and I got lost in the deep, deep hole of miracle reviews for basically an entire afternoon: “By far the best mask I have tried,” “This stuff is amazing! It is like a mini face lift!” “This is the first mask I’ve bought that I actually feel like DOES SOMETHING.” Still, I didn’t buy it. Like I said, I’m not an easy customer when it comes to face masks.

Then, a few months ago, my best friend, who’s dealt with problem skin forever, sent me a photo of her face covered in said mask and asked “Have you HEARD of this stuff? It’s amazing!!!!!!” Still, I didn’t buy it. It appeared the only place to buy it was Amazon, and I am an impatient human who finds no joy in online shopping. But about a month ago, I was walking through Whole Foods on Callowhill when I came across a shelf where the Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay was sitting, staring back at me. I picked it up and threw it in my cart and now I am here to join the chorus of crazy, exclamation-point-loving reviewers: This stuff really is magic, skin-saving dust, people! Plus, it doesn’t contain any weird chemicals you can’t pronounce like many a mask in the aisles of Sephora — and it’s cheaper than a salad from Sweetgreen!

To make the mask, all you do is take a couple spoonfuls of the clay and mix it with equal parts apple cider vinegar. Then you apply a thick layer of it to your face and hang out for anywhere from five to 20 minutes. (I leave it on for 20, because I’m hardcore like that.) It’s not the most relaxing mask experience: It pulls your skin really tight — don’t even dare try to smile while wearing it — and it makes your skin pulsate, in my case particularly around my nose, in a way that can only be described as weird. Removing it is kind of tough because it gets rock hard on your face which, again, makes it a not-so-laidback mask experience. But I’ve used it once a week for the past three weeks, and every time I’ve painstakingly removed it, my skin has instantly felt oh-so-soft (my friend who did it with me jokingly described her post-mask skin as “soft as a baby’s bum”) and pimples that I felt forming before I put the mask on — you know, those painful, under-the-skin ones? — are nowhere to be seen (or felt) come the next morning. It’s that good, people.

The jar says to use it “once per week for the family, more often for problem skin,” and skincare experts say you should stick with the once a week rule to avoid dryness and irritation. Although, some positive reviewers boast that they use the mask every single day, so I’m guessing there’s some trial and error involved in finding what works for your face in particular.

I have told just about every human I know about this mask and now I’m telling you guys because I feel like keeping it a secret would just be rude. I even brought Be Well editor Emily a plastic bag of it, with “Heaven Dust” scribbled across the front of it. Yes, I’m so obsessed with it that I have nicknamed the product Heaven Dust. And I repeat: This Heaven Dust will cost you $7.65 on Amazon or $6.99 at Whole Foods. Then, you just need apple cider vinegar, and if you’re like any other health-blog-reading person I know, you’ve already got some in your pantry. So go, buy the mask, feel your face pulsate, and be happy — just remember not to smile!

Note: Of the few bad reviews on Amazon, some say the mask irritated their skin, which hasn’t been the case for me. But it’s worth trying a test batch on a piece of your skin if you are easily irritated by products. Better safe than sorry, ya dig?

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