9 Ways to Use Clay for Health and Beauty

A black woman has clay painted on her face at a spa.

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Clay is a naturally occurring substance with remarkable skin care properties. There was a time when it was widely used by ancient cultures for beauty, health, and healing, but it has fallen by the wayside in modern times. Clay, however, deserves our attention, particularly if you are seeking to detoxify, purify, and naturalize your skin care routine. It is a true workhorse of an ingredient, capable of doing many different things.

There are many types of clay. The most common is Bentonite, which comes from volcanic ash sediments and is composed mostly of hydrated aluminum silicate. Bentonite clay is supposed to be good for absorbing toxins, heavy metals, impurities and chemicals from the skin. Mountain Rose Herbs explains the process on its website:

“Bentonite is very unusual in the fact that once it becomes hydrated, the electrical and molecular components of the clay rapidly change and produce an electrical charge. Bentonite is a swelling clay. When it becomes mixed with water it rapidly swells open like a highly porous sponge.”

Clay is useful for putting minerals into the body, including magnesium, silica, and calcium. It cleans and exfoliates the skin, clears up impurities and allergic reactions, and cures digestive problems (as well as wards off potential poisonings, as native cultures have done in the past).

Buy yourself a package of high-grade Bentonite clay and start experimenting. It will quickly become a staple of your natural beauty cabinet. Here are some of the many things you can do with clay.

1. Make a Facial Mask

A black woman with clay facial mask looks at herself in the mirror.

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This is the form in which most of us encounter clay these days. Make a paste of clay and water (1:3 is the recommended ratio) and apply to face. Leave on for 20 minutes and rinse off for noticeably smoother, clearer skin. It can be used on the entire body, for irritated skin, cuts, burns, bug bites, cellulite, and eczema.

2. Use for Oral Health

A woman brushes her teeth with a red towel on her head.

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Some homemade toothpaste recipes call for clay, such as this Tooth Powder from Wellness Mama. The powder cleans thoroughly while providing minerals orally. You can also blend 1⁄2 tsp of clay with 1⁄4 cup water and use as remineralizing mouth wash.

3. Bathe in Clay

A black woman drawing a bath.

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Fill a tub and add 1-2 cups of clay. Mix to combine, then soak yourself. Rinse off. Your skin will feel supple and smooth.

4. Use As a Soap Replacement

A woman has her back rubbed with clay at a spa.

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You can use it to wash your entire body, including your hair, although this does require a radically different mindset to how it feels to wash one’s body, not to mention a bit more bathroom cleanup! Clay is very good for exfoliating too.

5. Drink It

A woman drinks water from a glass.

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According to Free People blog, you can cleanse your body from the inside by drinking clay in water, and apparently it doesn’t taste as ‘dirty’ as you might expect. Just make sure that whatever clay you use is deemed safe for internal use, and check with your healthcare provider before starting a cleanse.

6. Diaper Care

A baby in a cloth diaper on a sheet.

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Instead of baby powder, sprinkle dry clay on baby’s bottom while changing diaper. You can also use as a paste in order to speed healing of diaper rash.

7. Hair Care

A black woman with curly hair smiles and touches her head.

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“Mix 1 teaspoon of food grade calcium bentonite clay powder in about 2 ounces of water – but don’t drink right away! The powder needs time to generate its electrical charge in the water. You should wait at least one hour before drinking.”

Bentonite clay can make hair softer and shinier, with curls more defined. Use as a mask to cover hair (recipe here), or try washing your hair with it. Be aware that this can slightly darken the color of your hair temporarily.

8. Reduce Puffy Eyes

A Black woman applies clay under her eyes.

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If you have puffy under-eye bags, you can apply a thick layer of clay paste and let sit for at least 20 minutes. By doing this a couple times per week, the clay will reduce inflammation by absorbing excess fluid, according to In The Gloss.

9. Alleviate Stomach Pain

A woman experiences stomach pain on her bed.

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Spread a layer of clay paste (at least 1⁄2 cm thick) on your stomach if you’re experiencing pain. Lie down and relax, letting the clay calm the ache within before rinsing.

Do you have any preferred uses for clay?