By Becca Gregg

On the western tip of Martha’s Vineyard, the red, sand-blasted clay cliffs of Aquinnah protrude from the shore and into the ocean as if out of a postcard. Down below on Moshup Beach, small ponds of clay dot the shoreline at the edge of the cliffs. As all those rule-benders out there for whom a visit to the beach on a hot summer day has provided the perfect opportunity to take advantage of legendary healing powers that clay has to offer can attest: clay provides many aesthetic and health benefits for our skin that we want in on!

While we don’t advocate touching the clay, or climbing the cliffs themselves, (it’s forbidden by law, after all,) we can’t help but think that these beach-going rebels are onto something. After all, since the dawn of time, clay has been used for a myriad of purposes. Perhaps most notably (for us, at least) – clay-based skin care products. Known to detox skin by drawing out poisons and impurities, clay provides essential nutrients and minerals, which results in healthy, younger looking skin for all of us.

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Fortunately though, you don’t have to disturb a protected natural habitat to reap the benefits of natural clay. From face washes to leave-on masks, lotions and (yes!) even toothpaste, we’ve rounded up some favorites for you.

Our top picks:

Dermalogica Dermal Clay Cleanser, $33 at
Green clay and Kaolin combine with purifying extracts to remove excess oil and refine your skin’s texture. In addition, anti-inflammatory cucumber and healing sage work to soothe your skin, while refreshing menthol gives a tired complexion a jump-start.

Fresh Umbrian Clay Toothpaste, $20 at
With alkalinity as an ingredient, this dental treatment will fight plaque-causing bacteria, in addition to stimulating circulation in your gums and alleviating sensitivity. In addition, micro-fine clay gently lifts and whitens teeth. Don’t worry though, it doesn’t taste like clay! Rather, wild mint and lemon make for fresh breath after brushing.

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Burt’s Bees Pore Refining Mask, $6 at
Made with French green clay and a selection of eight dried herbs and flowers, this treatment works to tighten pores and stimulate skin, leaving your complexion cleansed, renewed and radiant.

Boots Botanics Conditioning Clay Mask, $8.99 at
Rich with minerals from oceanic clay, this mask deep cleans and conditions, leaving skin feeling smooth and free of build-up in your pores.

Fresh Umbrian Clay Face Lotion, $38 at
Oil-free and light as a feather, this non-comedogenic moisturizer works to hydrate, tone and balance combination skin, all while controlling oil and shine. And with a subtle cucumber extract, it smells just as clean and fresh as it feels!

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