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Can a clay mask make me breakout?

by | Last updated Apr 21, 2020 | Published on Feb 10, 2020 | FAQ | 0 comments

Every once in a while I hear this concern. Can a clay mask make me breakout?

Why? For how long?  HELP!!

Here’s the short answer (more details below):

What causes acne & breakouts?

The main causes for acne and those dreaded breakouts are oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria building up and clogging pores, a new skincare routine or products and stress or diet habits.

What is skin purging, and how long will it last?

Skin purging is your pores expelling all the nasty gunk inside them. It can last anywhere from a few days to a whole ‘skin cycle’. This is what you want to happen for your skin to purge and heal.

Can a clay mask make me breakout?

Yes, a clay mask may cause a breakout, initially. It’s not uncommon to wake up the next day with a breakout. But this can be a good thing. The clay is bringing to the surface what was clogged in your pores. If the location of the pimple is in a different spot than normal, it’s a reaction to the product. But if it’s in a normal blemish area, it’s your skin purging, a good thing!

What if I breakout after a clay mask?

Stay calm, don’t get stressed! The location of where the breakout occurs can help you know if it’s a breakout or a skin purge. Be extra gentle with your skin. Eat healthy and drinks tons of water.

One of the most common questions I get is “Will I break out after a clay mask?” And I understand why- nobody wants to breakout! I was wondering the same thing before I tried clay masks. Especially since I struggled with acne and difficult skin for most of my life.

There is not a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer to this question above, however. Until you have started using clay masks in your regular skincare routine, you won’t know which ones your skin love most.

Here I am going to give you guidance for breakouts after a clay mask, and tip and tricks to keep your skin glowing and healthy.

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What causes acne and breakouts?

Before we ask if can clay masks make your acne worse or cause a breakout, we first have to look at the cause of the issue. The scientific answer is: breakouts are caused by a bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes.

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Don’t those pesky bacteria just look gleeful to be reeking havoc in your pores?!

The main causes of these pesky problems are when your pores get clogged. The usual culprits are oil, air pollutants, dead skin cells and even the microscopic hairs that live on our skin.

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When these terrors team up and clog one of our precious pores, they can get stuck within the skin cell and get infected. That is when the bacteria takes over, and we get unwelcome visitors on our face.

Another cause of breakouts is the products we are using. Sometimes even the facial cleansers and lotions we use in our beauty routine are actually contributing to the problem!

One thing I recommend is to take a look at all of the ingredients in the products you are using on your face and body. Most of them are usually filled with harsh chemicals and unnatural products. Consider swapping these out for products with natural antibacterial ingredients; like clay!

Using a single ingredient, like clay, in your face mask reduces the potential of using breakout causing ingredients.

There are plenty of other issues that may contribute as well; most of them are lifestyle factors, such as stress, diet and hormone fluctuations. Remember to make transitions slowly, and don’t try multiple new things on your skin all at once.

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What is skin purging and how long will it last?

I am sure you have heard the term “things must get worse before they can get better.” Unfortunately, this can be true with our skin sometimes, too. After years of gunk getting trapped in our pores, they may need to go through a purging process to get rid of it.

Skin purging is pretty much just like it sounds: your skin getting rid of toxins and bacteria that has been trapped in it.

The process can look a bit different for everyone, but there are some common denominators.

So what does skin purging look like? It can be any type of blemish, blackhead or even flaky skin.  Purging could come in different forms, blackheads, whiteheads, cysts, pimples. Most often it is in areas that are your typical “problem spots” and can sometimes be just small, skin colored bumps under the skin.

How long skin purging lasts depends on the type of skin as well as how much there is to purge. It isn’t uncommon for blemishes to disappear more quickly than a normal pimple. However, experts recommend patience for about a month. Since our skin has a normal 28 day cycle, it might take that long for full cell rejuvenation.

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Don’t stress, this purging is actually good.  It’s a necessary step to getting to clearer, healthier skin.  You can also ease into it.  Wait a couple days in between clay masks.

Is my skin purging or breaking out?

So your super excited about a new skincare product that’s been recommended to you.  The first time trying it, or two or three you are mortified that the next morning you wake up with a blemish.

Is this the beginning of a purge or a breakout?  The location is the tell-tale sign.

If the blemish is in an odd area, it’s most likely a bad reaction to the product.  In this case, stop using it.

However, if you normally get acne along your jawline or around your mouth and the breakout goes into overdrive. That my friend is purging.  Yes I know it sucks, but it’s necessary.


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There is good news after all!  If you skin is purging, the breakout will pass quickly.  Provide you don’t pick, never pick.

What if I breakout after a clay mask?

There is a possibility that your skin might have a little temper tantrum after trying a clay mask for the first time. But no need to worry; it will most likely be temporary and pass quickly.

If you do experience a breakout after a clay mask, it could be a specific ingredient that doesn’t react well with your skin. So it is possible that it is not clay in general that your skin is mad at, but just one of the ingredients in the specific kind you used.

That’s why I love using the clay powder and mixing it myself, so I know what’s in my skincare.  Bentonite clay can have the strongest detox effect on the skin, so maybe try one of the other types of clay.

Remember, if that breakout is in a normal problem area, this breakout is actually a good thing.

If your skin is in fact going through a detoxifying process, there are a few things you can do to lessen the symptoms and effects. These tips and tricks should help you get your glow back in no time!

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1. Stay hydrated!

Remember that our bodies are 70% water, so the more you drink, the better. Consider replacing all other drinks (except maybe that crucial cup-of-joe in the morning!) with water to help flush out toxins more quickly.

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2. Eliminate stress and anxiety.

It can be hard, but try as much as possible. Easy ways to do this are adding a few minutes of meditation to your routine, or squeezing in a yoga class or two. Consider canceling that Friday night dinner if you just want to chill and read a book.

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3. Sweat!

This may sound counter productive since sweat and dirt are what sometimes clog pores, but 20-30 minutes of aerobic exercise helps reduce toxins and improve blood circulation.

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4. Mind your mouth… as in, what you put in it 😉

Fruits, vegetables and whole foods are best during any kind of detox process. Try to up your dosage of these and eliminate refined sugars and processed food.

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5. Nix the makeup.

I know it is hard for certain occasions, but the more you can let your skin breathe, the better. If you must wear foundation or powder, remember to take it off as soon as you get home or are done for the day. 

All of our bodies are different, especially our sensitive faces! So what works for one person may be the last choice for someone else. I remember a good friend of mine raving about a skincare product a few years ago, and it didn’t work for me at all. So keep this in mind, and have patience when trying to find the right products for you.

Overall, I have found facial clay masks to work wonders on my skin, and haven’t had any adverse side effects. I have even created a few recipes specific for acne prone skin. I hope this info helped give you some clarity around this important issue.

Feel free to reach out if you have any questions or comments. I am always happy to help anyone on their skincare journey!

Disclaimer: Our content does not constitute a dermatologist or medical advice.  Always spot test new products before applying to your face.


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