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How do Clay Masks Clear your Pores?

by | Last updated Aug 19, 2020 | Published on Aug 18, 2020 | FAQ | 0 comments

Pores are troublesome and downright annoying. I know they’re not obnoxiously visible to most people standing at an acceptable distance from your face. But when I have a compact mirror an inch away from my skin, they look like giant craters.

Large pores come with their huge set of problems.

They’re a pain to hide under makeup. They get clogged and give you acne, whiteheads, blackheads and what not.

But the thing is, everybody has them, for some they’re just not as visible.

I always like to describe my treasured bentonite clay as my pore vaccuum.  

So how do clay masks clear pores?  

It’s a bit of a lengthy answer, but here’s a brief answer first and if you are still interested, keep reading.  

In summary

What are pores?

Pores are small depressions on our skin. They contain important structures like oil glands, sweat glands and hair follicles. The secretions from these pores is essential for moisture balance and temperature regulation of skin.

How do pores work?

Pores “open” on the surface of skin to drain their contents. These opening can get blocked by dirt, dead skin cells and sebum. This is called a clogged pore, they can be “open” like blackheads or “closed” like whiteheads. Clogged pores can also get inflamed and infected to form a pimple.

How do clay masks clear pores?

Clays are amazing skin purifiers. They draw out all the impurities blocking the pores by a special mechanism. Charged particles in clay attract and bind to opposite charges on our skin. This is how all the dirt, toxins and excessive oil is effectively removed from the pore when the clay is washed off.

What is a pore?

A pore is just a normal part of our skin’s anatomy. Everybody is born with them but there are some ethnic variations[1].

East Asian people have the least density of pores on their skin. While people of Indian sub-continental origin have the greatest.

Pores on our skin house some very important structures. They have sebaceous glands which are responsible for producing sebum or oil. This oil prevents dehydration and cracking of skin.

Pores also have sweat glands and hair follicles. Sweat keeps the skin cool while hairs prevent heat loss.

Pores are definitely essential for the integrity of our skin for all the above reasons.

how do clay masks clear pores

Why are my pores enlarged?

The size of pore is inherent and you cannot change it.

Many people ask, can you tighten your pores?

Pores don’t get bigger or smaller like a mouth.

So why do sometimes they appear much larger?

What I have noticed with my skin is that my pores look much bigger by the end of the day. This is because our skin produces oil throughout the day.

The pore swells as it fills up with excessive oil. The sticky fluid also reflects light, makes you look shiny and makes the pores stand out.

This is why sometimes you feel like your pores are “enlarged”.


What is a clogged pore?

A lot of things are happening on our skin at a microscopic level. The top layer of the skin called “stratum corneum” constantly sheds its cells[2]. They are then replaced by newer cells.

There are a number of bacteria normally living on our faces[3]. They are the natural flora of the skin.

Our skin is also exposed environmental pollution and the tons of product we like to put on every day.

All these factors like dead skin cells, product buildup, dirt and bacteria can cause our pores to clog. They block the opening of these pores and oil keeps accumulating inside.

This is the root cause of acne and breakouts. A clogged pore can get infected and possibly lead to different types of acne outcomes. Like deep seated cysts and nodules.

How does a clay mask clear your pores?

For generations people have been using some form of clay masks. Clays like indian healing clay have been a local beauty secret used by even my great grandparents.

Now we’ve learned that there are many types of clays and they are all great for skin.

The different composition of minerals gives clay unique properties but how they work is the same.

The 2 main ways that clay masks work for our pores is with absorption and astringency.


Perhaps the most important quality of clay is absorption. In the past clays were used internally to treat acidity. They could absorb the acids and toxins in the stomach.

We do not eat our clays now but this power of absorption is very useful in our skincare. We apply the paste on our skin and it will suck out all the impurities from our pores.

Now how does clay do that?

Through a process called cation exchange. In this process charged particles of one substance helps remove oppositely charged particles from another substance.

Read more: how clay and cation exchange works.

Clay particles are negatively charged. When spread on the skin they attract positively charged dirt, oil and toxins. They bind to each other like a magnet.

These are then removed from the skin when the clay is washed off.

Simple but impressive.  Hence why I like to refer to a bentonite mask like a vacuum for my pores.


Clays are wonderful for clearing out your pores. They are also very effective in making them “appear” smaller.

Myth: pores do not open and close.

As pores sadly cannot change their actual size we rely on ways to make them less visible.

A clogged pore will always look more prominent. Oily shiny skin also bounces off light to make our pores the center of attention. Clays will unclog the pore and absorb extra oil to solve this problem.

But clays are also powerful astringents. These are materials which causes contraction of the surface they’re applied on[4].

When a clay mask is drying on the face, you will feel a stretch on the skin underneath. This is the clay trying to contract the skin with your pores.

This will make your pores look much smaller than before. Unfortunately pores don’t have any mechanism to hold that change in place. They will eventually revert back to their natural size.

This is why it’s better to have clay masks as a regular part of your skincare routine.  We suggest once to twice a week. But how often you use a clay mask varies on your skin type.

Make sure you are always using a clay mask the right way.

In summary,

Oily skin and clogged pores are the root of all evil. By that I mean acne of course. Regular deep cleansing helps a great deal in combating these issues.

Clay masks do what regular cleansers cannot. They absorb all the dirt and oil from deep into the pores like a sponge. Drawing out all the impurities and buildup of the entire day.

Making clays a part of your nightly skincare routine will keep your pores clean. This will prevent acne and blackheads and make your skin glow all day.

Try 4 different types of clay with our facial clay mask assortment pack.

Disclaimer: Our content does not constitute a dermatologist or medical advice.

Featured Clay Recipes:

Bentonite Clay Mask Recipes
How do Clay Masks Clear your Pores? 1

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