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Treating acne can be a full-time job, requiring numerous products that can even be prescribed if it’s severe enough. Among the better tools for fighting acne before it hits the prescription severity threshold are mud masks. These creams pull impurities from your pores and absorb some of your body’s excess natural oils. The moisture in them is also nourishing, so your skin becomes a little healthier overall.

In this article: Peter Thomas Roth Mud Mask, New York Biology The Ultimate Cosmeceuticals Mud Mask and Cetaphil Clay Mask.

Mud masks for treating acne

All mud masks are effective ways to treat minor-to-moderate cases of acne. However, if your acne is on the stronger side, consider using masks with extra ingredients, such as activated charcoal, or masks marketed as exfoliating. Activated charcoal masks can give your skin a deeper and more detoxifying clean, while exfoliating masks can remove dead skin cells and other surface-level grime.

You can also consider using a clay mask rather than a mud one. Compared to mud masks, which lean more toward healing and nourishing the skin, clay masks are more focused on removing oils and impurities.

Treatment duration

Most mud masks require at least 10 minutes to work their magic, but some can take 30 minutes or longer. It’s imperative that you wait the length of time instructed or you won’t get the full benefits of the mask, which is just wasteful. You also shouldn’t go too far over the treatment duration or you could feel grimy afterward, although a few minutes won’t hurt.

Removal methods

Once a treatment is complete, mud masks typically need to be removed in one of two ways.

  • Wash-off masks are more common, and gentler on the skin when it’s time to come off. However, removing them can be messy. There’s also the risk you miss a spot and go about your day with an embarrassing bit of mud still on your face.
  • Peel-off masks are easier to remove, but pulling off the mask also pulls at your skin, possibly leading to irritation, inflammation, dryness and redness. It’s worse for those with sensitive skin; avoid these removal types entirely if that’s you.

Container types

Most mud masks come in either a jar or a squeeze tube.

  • Jars are the most common; they’re the easiest to get the mask from. Don’t use your fingers, though, because you can contaminate the jar. Instead, use a brush or spatula.
  • Squeeze tubes don’t have the same contamination worries as jars since you just, well, squeeze out what you need. However, mud masks can be exceptionally thick, which can make it a struggle to actually get the mask to come out.


Most mud masks cost $10-$20. Some can cost less, but these are usually only worth it if they’re a travel-size version of a good mask. Others can cost more, though these usually cost more because of branding rather than ingredient quality.

Best mud masks

Best Freeman Mud Mask

Freeman Detoxifying Mud Mask

This mask uses activated charcoal and black sugar to exfoliate the skin and clear your pores. The black sugar also helps your skin retain moisture, smoothing out roughness and lines.

Sold by Amazon and Ulta Beauty

Best Glamglow Youthmud Mud Mask

Glamglow Hollywood, California Youthmud Mud Mask

This mask is packed with green tea leaf and volcanic pumice rock to boost your skin’s brightness after using it. It’s gluten-free and takes just 10 minutes.

Sold by Amazon and Ulta Beauty

Best Glamglow Supermud Clearing Treatment

Glamglow Supermud Mud Mask

This mask uses activated-X charcoal to target toxins and dirt deep into your pores. It also helps remove leftover dead skin cells, while eucalyptus leaf adds antioxidants.

Sold by Amazon 

Best Majestic Pure Mud Mask

Majestic Pure Dead Sea Mud Mask

This mask uses mud from the Dead Sea, loaded with some of the highest-quality salts and minerals you can buy. The tub is large, making it easier to scoop out the dregs when it’s almost empty.

Sold by Amazon

Best New York Biology The Ultimate Cosmeceuticals Mud Mask

New York Biology The Ultimate Cosmeceuticals Dead Sea Mud Mask

This is another Dead Sea mud mask, but this one can be left plain or infused with an extra ingredient. The extra ingredient options are turmeric, tea tree oil, lavender oil, manuka honey, eucalyptus oil, or stem cell and collagen.

Sold by Amazon

Best Peter Thomas Roth Mud Mask

Peter Thomas Roth Irish Moor Mud Mask

The mud in this mask comes from Irish moors and also contains hijiki seaweed, volcanic ash  and activated charcoal to cover as many skin health bases as possible.

Sold by Amazon and Sephora

Best Shea Moisture Mud Mask

Shea Moisture African Black Soap Clarifying Mud Mask

This mud mask is cruelty-free and contains ingredients such as cocoa pod ash and tea tree leaf oil. Six ounces are included and you can buy one or two jars at a time.

Sold by Amazon, iHerb and Ulta Beauty

Best clay masks

7-best-mud-masks-acne-Best Aztec Secret Clay Mask

Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay Mask

This mask comes in a powdered form that requires you to mix it with water or apple cider vinegar, meaning there’s no risk of it drying out in the jar. It comes in either a 1- or 2-pound jar. 

Sold by Amazon

Best The Body Shop Clay Mask

The Body Shop Tea Tree Skin Clearing Clay Mask

This mask comes from a brand committed to using ethically sourced products and engaging in fair trade practices. It doesn’t hurt that it’s effective, and vegan to boot.

Sold by Amazon

Best Cetaphil Clay Mask

Cetaphil DermaControl Purifying Clay Mask

This mask, and most other Cetaphil products for that matter, is designed for those with sensitive skin. It’s also hypoallergenic and fragrance-free; it’s noncomedogenic, too, so it won’t block pores. The jar is under the 3.4-fluid-ounce threshold for flying.

Sold by Amazon

Best Fresh Clay Mask

Fresh Umbrian Clay Purifying Mask

This mask uses Italian clay that’s packed with minerals. It can work as a purifying mask, a deep cleanser or a pore-reducing agent, and it smells like lavender.

Sold by Amazon, Sephora and Ulta Beauty

Best Majestic Pure Clay Mask

Majestic Pure Moroccan Red Clay Mask

This mask has a high mineral content and plenty of vitamins, making it as nourishing as it is cleansing. It’s also cruelty-free, so you can use it with peace of mind.

Sold by Amazon

Best Plantifique Clay Mask

Plantifique Superfood Marine Clay Mask

This South Korean-made mask includes a combination of seven superfoods to help it cover more skin health bases: avocado, spinach, blueberry, spirulina, tea tree, aloe vera and calendula. 

Sold by Amazon

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