I Tried It

I Tried It: Cetaphil Pro Dermacontrol Purifying Clay Mask

Plus, dermatologists explain why clay is such a beneficial skin-care ingredient.
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My skin is confusing in that it is both very oily and pretty sensitive. No, it's unfortunately not that dewy, glowing skin that everyone is striving for these days. It's just pure excess oiliness, which usually makes its way onto my forehead, nose, and chin circa noon every single day. On the flip side, I also typically can't use any of the traditional oil-banishing skin-care products, either, since they tend to be over-drying and will inevitably make me break out in red splotches, or even lead to flaking and irritation. This is why, when it comes to face masks, I need a formula that will cleanse and clarify my pores (and get rid of any greasiness) without drying out my skin or leaving any irritation behind.

It's a very fine line. So, when I heard about Cetaphil's new Pro Dermacontrol Purifying Clay Mask, which is formulated to straddle said line (working to banish oil and absorb pore-clogging dirt and oil, while also leaving a hydrating finish behind), I had to try it. It's formulated with two different types of clay, bentonite clay and Amazonian (kaolin) clay, which work together (alongside a host of other beneficial ingredients that I'll get to) to pull out dirt and gently exfoliate without stripping the skin of its natural moisture. Simply speaking, "clays will pull oils from your skin and leave it soft and clean," explains Nava Greenfield of Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City.

As such, most clays, while they do work well, tend to also leave my complexion feeling dried out — which is why Cetaphil included other hydrating ingredients, including apple fruit and cucumber seed extracts, for added nourishment.

To test it out, I proceeded as follows: I used the included tiny plastic spatula to apply a thin layer of the mask all over my (dry, clean) face. Right off the bat, the first indicator that I was going to like this mask was the formula: it's a creamy, super-spreadable mask that feels soft on my skin and also surprisingly luxurious. In my experience, many clay masks tend to feel lumpy or grainy, but this one is neither.

When it's on, the mask itself feels almost tightening, with a slight tingle (not to be confused with stinging, because it's definitely not that). For me, a slight tingling sensation is welcome, because then it feels like it's really working to clean out the dirt and excess oil from deep down in the pores. As mentioned earlier, this is the very thing that clay is known for in the skin-care world, explains Marisa Garshick, a dermatologist in New York City, who says that "when it is applied to the skin it can help to grab on to excess oil, dirt, debris and lift it off of the skin surface, helping to clear out pores and leaving the skin looking refreshed."

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Once 10 minutes was up (you can leave it on for anywhere between five and 10 minutes), I rinsed the mask off with lukewarm water, then patted my skin dry with a washcloth. Unlike many other clay masks, this one did not harden completely, which made it much easier to rinse off (and much gentler on my skin, since there was no scrubbing involved).

Afterward, my skin did feel noticeably tighter, but not dried out at all. As you can see in the photos, the mask did work well to absorb most of the excess oil from my skin, giving off an overall mattifying effect, which I love. Like I said, somehow, my skin still felt hydrated afterward — likely thanks to the cucumber seed extract in the formula, which "contains fatty acids, including oleic and linoleic acid to support the natural skin barrier and retain moisture," Garshick explains.

Since it takes less than 15 minutes to apply, use and rinse off, I can see how it would also be easy to incorporate this mask into your routine two to three times per week, as is recommended.

Overall, in my experience, this mask does exactly what it claims to do: it exfoliates and cleans the skin without drying it out, which, also per my experience, is no easy feat.