Cosmetic clays are often used in skincare since they are rich in minerals and known for their healing properties. In fact, there are several different types of cosmetic clays like bentonite, kaolin, illite, rhassoul clay, etc., which vary in mineral properties, origin and color. Even though all clays have sebum absorbing properties, they differ greatly in the level of absorbency, and work better for a certain skin type and skin condition. In this article we’ll discuss kaolin clay skin benefits, different types of kaolin, and the best skincare products with kaolin.
What Is Kaolin Clay?
To begin with, kaolin clay is a very fine-grained and odorless mineral substance that occurs naturally all over the world. It is also known as China clay and is the most common and universal cosmetic clay. Kaolin is naturally rich in mineral kaolinite and silica, and it is less drying than other types of clays due to its neutral pH level.
In general, depending on mineral composition and origin, kaolin comes in many different colors. In fact, white kaolin is the one most commonly used in skincare and cosmetics, but other colors like grey, pink, red, yellow and green can be used as well. Even though different colors of kaolin have slightly different properties, all kaolin clays are gentle and they don’t dry out the skin.
Kaolin Clay Skin Benefits
Since kaolin is the most universal clay, it is used in skincare due to its therapeutic, healing and anti aging properties. Some of the key benefits of kaolin clay include ability to detoxify/purify skin, stimulate circulation, balance oil production, sooth skin inflammation, gently exfoliate, increase skin elasticity, and many more.
1. Absorbs excess oil. One of the main kaolin clay skin benefits is the ability to absorb excess sebum from the surface of the skin without drying out the skin. Moreover, kaolin helps to balance oil production, and that’s why it works great for all skin types especially dry and sensitive.
2.Purifies skin/pores. Not only kaolin clears out pores from excess oil, but also it removes other pore-clogging impurities like dead skin build-up, dirt and micro debris. This results in more clear complexion and healthier skin.
3.Helps with acne and breakouts. Often, clogged pores can trap dirt and bacteria, which lead to blemishes, blackheads, pimples and acne. Since kaolin is effective in absorbing excess oils and clearing pore, it also prevents formation of blemishes and pimples, and speeds up skin healing.
4.Soothes skin irritation. In addition to having purifying properties, kaolin also has the abilities to reduce inflammation and redness, calm and sooth irritated skin, as well as speed up healing.
5.Provides mild exfoliation. Since kaolin has lightly grainy texture it can gently remove dead skin cells, impurities and reveal brighter, softer and smoother skin.
6.Stimulates blood circulation. Among other kaolin clay skin benefits is the ability to increase circulation. Why is it beneficial for skin? Not only a good blood flow supplies skin with oxygen and nutrients, but also it promotes overall healthier skin, brighter complexion, and prevents variety of skin issues.
7.Has anti aging properties. When used regularly for a prolonged period of time kaolin clay can increase skin elasticity, tone the skin, and delay some signs of aging like fine lines.
8.Replenishes natural minerals. Since kaolin is naturally rich in minerals it replenishes our skin with necessary minerals, which contributes to healthier skin.
Types Of Kaolin Clay
As already mentioned, kaolin comes in many different colors. Moreover, each color is determined by the mineral composition and has different level of absorbency. That is to say, all kaolin clays are gentle, but various colors have slightly different properties and will work better for certain skin types. Interestingly enough, the more intense the color of the natural clay is, the more absorbent it is.
White kaolin clay
Being considered as the most universal clay, white kaolin is good for all skin types, especially sensitive, dry and mature skin. In fact, it is one of the gentlest, least drying and least absorbent kaolins. It addition to having moisturizing properties, it also mildly exfoliates skin, unclogs pores, clears complexion, and doesn’t dry out the skin.
- For all skin types especially sensitive
Red kaolin clay
This type of kaolin is the most absorbent out of all kaolin clays, yet it is still gentle. It has naturally high levels of silicate and iron oxide, which give this clay vibrant red color. In addition to balancing oil production, red kaolin also increases skin firmness and elasticity. Best for normal, slightly oily, combination, or acne-prone skin that is slightly sensitive.
- Most absorbent kaolin
- Has anti aging properties
- For normal, combination, acne-prone skin
Rose/Pink kaolin clay
To clarify, pink kaolin is also known as rose clay, and these two terms can be used interchangeably. Known for its soothing, balancing, and anti aging properties, rose/pink kaolin is formed by mixing white and red kaolin clays. Also, rose clay is gentle enough so that it can purify the skin while also providing hydration and soothing. Overall, this kaolin clay benefits most skin types especially combination and sensitive skin. It is rich in iron and magnesium, and comes in many different shades of pink.
- Mix of white and red kaolin
- For combination and sensitive skin
Read more about rose/pink clay benefits and products >>
This type of clay is good for all skin types especially dry and sensitive skin due to its mild properties. In terms of absorbency, it is milder than red kaolin but stronger than white clay. Overall, yellow kaolin clay skin benefits include extracting impurities, promoting cell regeneration, and stimulating blood circulation. It is also used as skin brightening ingredient.
- Medium absorbency
- For all skin types
Similar to red kaolin, green kaolin has high absorption properties, and is best for oily, blemish- and acne-prone skin. Rich in iron oxide and ancient plant matter. This clay is used for improving skin tone and revealing brighter and more glowing complexion.
- High absorbency
- For blemish-prone or dull skin
Best Kaolin Clay Products
Since kaolin clay skin benefits include purifying pores, balancing oil production, and soothing irritation, it is a great addition to any skin care. Overall, cosmetic kaolin clays are used for making facial masks, masks for hair, dry shampoos, soaps, cleansers, scrubs, baby powders and mineral bath soaks.
Most products like facial masks that are made with kaolin clay often include other types of clay like bentonite, or ellite, which intensify absorbency level of kaolin. However, kaolin clay is also available as a dry powder (pure cosmetic kaolin), which can be turned into paste by adding a few spoons of water, and used for multiple purposes.
How often to use kaolin mask? For ultimate results use twice a week if you have oily, combination or acne-prone skin, and once a week for normal, dry, mature and sensitive skin.
Teami Beauty Mask
Gentle restorative mask that will bring your dull complexion back to life. This rejuvenating formula combines natural ingredients like kaolin clay, aloe vera, butterfly pea flower, zinc oxide, vitamin E and sweet almond oil. This mask is very gentle and works great for all skin types. Also available in stronger version, Green Tea Detox Mask, with kaolin, bentonite and matcha.
Derma E Firming Magnetic Clay Mask
This anti aging mask removes impurities and unclogs pores with kaolin and bentonite clays. In addition, it exfoliates and brightens the skin, as well as lifts and firms. Spearmint oil gives this mask a cooling sensation, while DMAE, aloe, vitamin E, provitamin B5 and yerba mate provide anti aging benefits.
Burt's Bees Detoxifying Clay Mask for Unisex
Detoxifying clay mask that removes impurities with the help of kaolin clay and charcoal. It brightens complexion, balances and nourishes the skin with antioxidants, vitamin E, probiotics, oils and plant extracts. Can be used by all skin types.
Follain Dual Detox Mask
Not only this mask will deeply purify your pores with white kaolin, bentonite and illite clays, but it will also resurface and exfoliate the skin with a blend of AHAs, BHA and PHA. This dual action mask will make your skin brighter and softer, and all skin types can benefit from it.
Clarity Rx Rehab Mediterranean Detoxifying Mud Mask
This intense clarifying mask contains a rich blend of clays like bentonite, kaolin, fuller’s earth, Mediterranean and Dead sea muds. In addition, it nourishes the skin with herbal extracts, oils, and vitamins. Since it is deeply purifying, it works best for oily, congested and troubled skin.
Caudalie Purifying Mask
If you suffer from congested or enlarged pores this clay face mask is for you. It is infused with white kaolin clay, hyaluronic acid, grapeseed oil, and other herbal extracts, which decongest and nourish the skin at the same time. Since it has gentle and non-drying mattifying formula all skin types can use it.
Swisse Manuka Honey Australian Kaolin
This brightening and cleansing clay mask is designed specifically for combination skin. In addition to Australian kaolin clay it also includes charcoal, oatmeal, manuka honey, Norwegian kelp, salicylic acid, and other natural ingredients. It balances oil production and reveals glowing skin.
Yon-ka Mask 105
Even though this natural mask includes three types of clays that purify pores, it is non-drying and is packed with nourishing oils that sooth dry and sensitive skin. It will help to calm irritated skin, reduce inflammation, tighten pores, and reveal brighter complexion.
Kaolin Clay Powders
If you would like to use pure kaolin you might opt for dry kaolin clay powder, which is very versatile. Not only dry clay mixtures are free of stabilizers, additives and preservatives, but also they can be turned into different skincare products.
How to use it? For example, you can make kaolin paste by simply mixing few spoons of water with few spoons of dry clay. Once you achieve the consistency of the smooth paste similar to yogurt or sour cream, you can use the mixture as a facial mask or hair mask. Moreover, dry clay powder can be added to any cleanser or bath soak for extra purification.
Overall, dry powdered clay usually cost less than pre-made products like facial masks, and due to numerous kaolin clay skin benefits it is a great addition to your skin care. We like the following dry cosmetic grade clays:
- White Cosmetic Kaolin Clay by Monterey Bay (1lb bag on Amazon, origin: USA)
- Light Kaolin Clay by MB Herbals (8oz. re-sealable bag on Amazon, origin: India)
- Kaolin Rose Clay Powder by ClearLee (2lb re-sealable bag on Amazon, origin: USA)
- Clay Mask Multi-Pack (includes mask brush & 4 clays: bentonite, kaolin, French green and Rhassoul, on Amazon)
Other Types Of Clay
In addition to having different mineral properties, various types of clays also have different level of absorbency. In other words, more absorbent clays are more drying and work better for oily, acne-prone or combination skin, while less absorbent clays are more gentle and work better for dry, mature or sensitive skin. Here is a short review of other common cosmetic clays like bentonite, fuller’s earth, French green, and Rhassoul.
Bentonite Clay (aka Indian healing clay or montmorillonite) is type of healing clay derived from volcanic ash beds of different origin. It usually has light grey color, but can also appear in different color hues depending on the mineral composition and the origin. To point out, this clay is detoxifying, and has strong absorbing properties. It is considered a great option for acne-prone, blemish-prone and oily skin, as this clay draws out toxins, excess sebum, deeply purifies, and replenishes vitamins and minerals within skin.
French Green Clay, also know as “illite”, is purifying clay that helps to balance skin’s pH levels. It unclogs pores, absorbs excess oil, deeply cleanses, stimulates cell regeneration, and has antibacterial properties. In comparison to kaolin, this clay has stronger cleansing and absorbing properties, and is great for oily, combination and acne-prone skin. However, it has milder absorption properties than bentonite clay.
Fuller’s Earth Clay is very potent clay that has mild skin lightening properties. Since this clay is very absorbent it can be drying for some skin types, and is recommended for oily and acne-prone skin.
Rhassoul Clay (also known as Ghassoul or red Moroccan clay) is red or brown color volcanic clay from Atlas Mountains in Morocco that is rich in magnesium, silica, potassium, and iron. This non-drying clay has soothing properties, and can be used by all skin types, especially those with dry skin.
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