Not A Secret

Hey come on in and watch me put some weird mud glop on my face.

Yeah, it’s time for another EXPERIMENT! Well, not really, because I’m not a scientist and also a billion people (rough estimate) have already used this stuff — but *I* had never used this stuff, so let’s go.

YEAH, it’s AZTEC SECRET, the awkwardly-named clay masque with a superfug label!


It’s a pretty standard-issue clay masque that you mix up yourself. It arrives in a big plastic jar as a fine powder. When I ordered, Amazon had the one-pound jar listed at like FOURTEEN BUCKS (it’s currently $4.84) … but they had a two-pound jar for eleven bucks (currently $12.04). What? Okay. So now I’ve got a giant 2lb tub o’ clay powder, hurrah.

ANYWAY. Yeah, it’s powdered clay. Specifically it’s bentonite clay, which is extremely absorbent (it can absorb and hold like ten times its own weight in water/liquids/oils). Extra specifically, it’s calcium bentonite clay (bentonite clays come in a variety of types, based on their dominant non-phyllosilicate mineral). Fun fact: calcium bentonite is also the primary ingredient in Fuller’s earth, which is called “Fuller’s earth” because in the middle ages it was used by … fullers. A fuller is someone who treats cloth (usually wool) to remove oils and dirt and other impurities and also bulk it up through felting or pounding or abrasion. FASCINATING. Fuller’s earth is also, slightly less glamourously, used in cat litter. AND! It’s been used for centuries on the Indian subcontinent to clean marble. So there you go.


Like all clay masks, it’s meant to pull oils and such out of the surface of your skin. Note that (according to my half-assed googling) the clay powder itself has a pH of around 8, which is really too alkaline to put on your face, even when mixed with water (which has a pH of around 7, or “neutral”). (Recall that the standard pH scale, like the Richter scale, is logarithmic, in this case by a power of ten — so a pH of 9 would be ten times more alkaline than a pH of 8, and at the other end of the scale a pH of 3 would be ten times more acidic than a pH of 4.)

That pH means you should not put the clay directly on your face. Nor should you mix it with water, even though the sticker on the tub says you can. For one thing, using it with water makes it a lot harder to mix up to a smooth paste. But you really want to mix it with Apple Cider Vinegar — with its pH of around 4 — to end up with something that’s skin-friendly and won’t wreck your acid mantle.

Bonus : when you mix it with ACV, you get to watch it FIZZ. OH YES.

Omg that’s so fun. So, yeah. Mix up equal parts clay powder and ACV in a glass or plastic bowl. You can use a spoon to mix, but I prefer doing it with a wooden stick thing — tongue depressor aka waxing applicator aka wide popsicle stick. (Here’s a hundred for six bucks. Or you could just eat a whole lot of popsicles.) These are handy, disposable, and also it’s MUCH easier and less messy to evenly spread thick glop on your face with these than with your fingers … and then you can use the same one again later (we’ll get to that). How much glop should you mix? I did two tablespoons of clay and ACV, and as per the tub’s instructions applied it nearly 1/4″ thick, and I had a little left over. Probably 1-1.5 tablespoons of each is plenty. Mix until you’ve got a nice smooth paste.

Then smear that shit all over your clean dry face, woo. You’ll look like a swamp monster mated with a golem and it’s super fun. The jar claims that you will FEEL YOUR FACE PULSATE. TBH I felt only a few mild twinges, nothing I’d categorize as “holy shit my face is pulsating, y’all.”

Testing the “keep doing that and your face will stick that way forever” hypothesis.
It’s gonna getcha. Grrr, grrrrrr.
Don’t give me that look. U don’t kno my life.

Now that you’re glopped, you wait around until the glop turns to crust. This will take fifteen to twenty minutes if you had enough sense to spread your clay fairly thinly. I was dumb and piled it on and half an hour later it still wasn’t all the way dry.

I tried putting a shem in my mouth that said “SUCCEED BRILLIANTLY AT EVERYTHING FOREVER.” We’ll see how that turns out.

After you’re done fucking around making monster faces and trying to frighten your pets, who remain woefully disinterested and unamused, you’ll want to take it off. Now … I hope you saved your wooden applicator stick or have another one handy, because the first time I did this I tried kind of wiping it off with a wet paper towel, and then another wet paper towel, and I went through like six wet paper towels and ugh. INSTEAD, grab a hand mirror and your stick, and stand over a garbage can and kind of scrape most of it off.

Having a bunch of hairs come loose and get scraped into the clay dregs is optional but obvs extremely stylish and beautiful. But seriously, this is a much faster and easier removal method, and has the added bonus of not throwing a bunch of what’s basically mortar down your drain. [Probably if you applied this much thinner than I did, you could do the wet-paper-towel-then-rinse thing. Honestly tho I would not want to wash a bunch of this stuff down my drains on the regular.]

Then go rinse and see what happens!


It … kind of, I guess? To be perfectly honest with you, the process was a whole lot of fun, but I don’t feel like it accomplished a ton for me. My little incipient breakout areas were slightly redder and angrier-looking after I washed this off, and I still seemed to have the same level of gunk-clogged pores as usual, boooo. However, while my skin is quite oily, overproduction of keratin is seemingly a larger problem for me (thus my devotion to Skinoren which helps a good bit with that). But if your main issue is simply an abundance of oil, then this might be more helpful for you than it was for me. I’m going to try it a few more times — right after a warm shower when my face has been steaming, and also with a thinner application — to see if semi-regular use has beneficial results. I’ll report back if anything noteworthy occurs! <3

HAVE YOU USED THIS? Do you love it? Do you enjoy making scary faces while covered in crust? Please discuss.