Kaolin clay is a natural, detoxifying cleanser that is excellent for all skin types. It can be used as an effective exfoliator or as a blemish treatment and is completely vegan and toxin free. If you are looking for a natural and highly purifying ingredient to add to your skincare routine, this guide tells you all you need to know about using Kaolin clay!
Kaolin clay can have many different uses in your beauty routine. It nourishes the skin, adds shine and elasticity to the hair, and can be used in soaps, toothpaste, deodorant and bath bombs.
This post is all about the benefits and uses of Kaolin clay.
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- What is Kaolin Clay?
- Kaolin Clay vs Bentonite Clay
- Types of Kaolin Clay
- Kaolin Clay Uses
- Make a DIY Clay Mask
- Make a Clay Bath Bomb
- Which Clay is Right for You?
What is Kaolin Clay?
Kaolin clay is a clay that is made up mostly of the mineral kaolinite. It is used to make china and porcelain, and named after the hill in China (Gao-ling) where, for centuries, it was mined.
Usually the clay is bright white and is sometimes known as kaolin white china clay, but depending on the region where it was mined it can sometimes have extra mineral content giving it a red, yellow or pink hue.
Since Kaolin clay is regularly used in mineral makeup and cosmetics it is also often known as white cosmetic clay. It is a very soft clay with a fine particle size, making it the perfect base for cosmetic powders.
What is Special About Kaolin Clay?
Kaolin clay has a high silica content which makes it a popular ingredient in beauty products. Silica promotes collagen production making your skin firmer and more elastic. It also strengthens the hair and nails and provides nutrients to the hair follicles, preventing thinning.
Compared with other forms of clay, kaolin clay is the most gentle and therefore can be used on all skin types. It has very mild absorption properties, so won’t dry out your hair or skin.
Kaolin Clay vs Bentonite Clay
Kaolin and Bentonite Clays have different makeups, uses and colours.
Bentonite Clay is made up of sediments of volcanic ash that have been weathered over a long period of time. It acts like a sponge when mixed with water. Kaolin clay on the other hand is far less absorbent and is made up of mostly kaolinite.
Since Kaolin is less absorbent, it is less likely to dry out the skin. It is therefore recommended for sensitive skin types, or people with extremely dry skin. It is also often used in mineral makeup.
Bentonite clay on the other hand is more effective at removing excess oil but can dry the skin. This clay may be more suited to acne prone or oily skin types since its absorbing capabilities make it extremely effective at pulling toxins and impurities out of the skin.
The two clays also differ in colour and texture.
When it is dry, Bentonite clay has a pale, off white colour. It is slightly sandy but smooths when pressed between the fingers. When it is wet the colour remains the same, but the clay forms clumps. After enough water is added it smooths evenly over the skin and appears as a thick oatmeal texture.
When Kaolin clay is dry it has a light tan colour, although the colour can vary depending on the clay’s mineral content. The texture of the clay is very fine and soft. When water is added the clay becomes a dark tan colour and the texture remains fine, and smooth.
The Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay is a very popular bentonite clay that is available on Amazon. It contains 100% bentonite clay which can be used as a face mask, hair mask, bath soak, foot soak, underarm preparation for natural deodorant, or as a chilled clay knee pack.
This product is one of Amazon’s best sellers with over 2,000 five star reviews.
Types of Kaolin Clay
Kaolin clay appears in many different colours: white, yellow, red, pink and rose. Each colour has slightly differently properties and varying mineral content.
The gentlest form is the white clay which is the best for sensitive, dry skin. It is the least absorbent and softens with water providing very mild exfoliation to the skin.
The yellow clay is slightly more absorbent but still gentle enough for sensitive skin. It is slightly better at boosting blood flow and it therefore often added to brightening face masks. See my review of the L’Oreal Yellow Bright Face Mask.
The red clay is the most absorbent and the best for oily, sensitive skin. It is a good option if you want a detoxifying mask for acne prone and sensitive skin.
The pink and rose coloured clays are a mixture of the white and red clays. The white is for extremely sensitive skin, and the red is for less sensitive skin, so if your skin is somewhere in the middle a pink or rose clay would be best. They work well on sensitive skin that needs gentle exfoliation.
The image above is an old Kaolin quarry where you can see the different coloured clays. The lake in the quarry formed an unusual purple hue due to the mineral content in the surrounding rock. The various colors of kaolin clays depend on their mineral content.
White Kaolin Clay
Mystic Moments sell a number of different coloured clays for a reasonable price. You also get a huge bag so it’s great value for money as it will last you a long time. If you are looking for a simple, white kaolin clay this one will do the trick!
Pink Kaolin Clay
This pink kaolin clay is a mixture of both the white and red clay. After adding water you can add herbs or essential oils to the mixture depending on the beauty product you want to create.
Rose Kaolin Clay
This rose coloured clay makes an excellent detoxifying face mask for sensitive skin types. It brightens the skin, and minimises the appearance of pores. It is packed full of minerals and antioxidants to balance and nourish the skin.
Red Kaolin Clay
This is a beautiful deep red clay. Compared with the other clays, the red colour as greater efficacy for oil control but is still suitable for sensitive skin. It improves the skin’s elasticity and firmness. Since it is so gentle, red clay can be used as makeup as well as in skincare treatments.
Yellow Kaolin Clay
This is a brightening yellow clay mask that contains a mixture of both kaolin and bentonite clays as well as turmeric, blood orange oil, papaya, and ginseng. It was formed for all skin types and rejuvenates the complexion to have a natural, healthy glow.
Kaolin Clay Uses
Kaolin clay is a very versatile clay and has many different uses in beauty products. It is often used for skin care and an ingredient in facial masks and also in hair products. It is also used in soaps, deodorants and toothpastes
Kaolin clay is also not just for external use. Food grade kaolin clay has been shown to be beneficial for the digestive tract. Both Kaolin and bentonite are natural clays that are believed to help your gut absorb more nutrients by increasing the flora in the intestines. It can help improve medical conditions associated with the digestive system such as IBS and leaky gut.
Kaolin Clay For Hair
If you want to use Kaolin clay for your hair, it can be applied as a mask or cleanser. It will draw impurities from the scalp and remove excess oil and greasiness from the hair. It also helps improve blood flow to the hair follicles which can lead to faster hair growth and healthier, stronger hair.
If you suffer from product build up on the hair, this clay is good at removing excess products, grime and dead skin cells. It can also be used as a dry shampoo since is absorbs oil and dirt on the scalp and gives the hair renewed volume.
If you are interested in using kaolin clay for natural hair, the video below shows you how to apply the clay. Over time the clay helps to add shine, softness and elasticity to the hair.
Kaolin Clay For Skin
Kaolin clay has been used for skin treatments for hundreds of years, primarily in Asia.
Kaolin clay has many benefits for the skin:
- Improves skin tone
- Draws out impurities from the skin
- Tightens the pores
- Reduces blemishes
- Improves the texture of the skin
- Does not dry or irritate the skin
- Improves blood circulation
- Decreases inflammation and redness
Since it is both gentle and detoxifying, kaolin clay is excellent for acne suffers with sensitive skin. When used in skincare treatments it reduces oiliness and removes impurities, making spots less likely to appear. It is also good at reducing inflammation, redness and swelling around current blemishes.
Recommended Clay Masks for the Skin
The following facial masks contain kaolin clay along with other natural ingredients that benefit the skin. They make a great addition to any skin care routine.
This classic clay mask from The Inkey List contains both Kaolin and smectite clay. It unclogs pores, evens the skin tone and removes skin impurities. It can be used on dry skin types or mature skin as it’s very gentle and won’t strip the skin of its natural oils.
To use the clay mask apply a thin layer to damp clean skin and leave for 10 minutes before rinsing with warm water. Pat your face dry and continue with your skin care routine. Use the mask in the morning or evening once or twice a week.
The Bellezon pink clay mask contains Kaolin clay along with aloe vera, witch hazel and liquorice. It removes blackheads, tightens pores and purifies and brightens the skin. The texture is very smooth and it spreads like butter over the skin leaving the face clean, hydrated and perfectly moisturised.
MeMe Australian pink clay contains aloe vera, pomegranate and witch hazel. The clay pulls toxins from deep within the skin leaving the pores tight and the skin cleansed and purified. The aloe vera and pomegranate both sooth the skin, reduce inflammation and help to fade acne scars. Witch hazel is also excellent at toning the skin and tightening the pores.
The Toulon Deep Pore Refining Mineral Masque contains white kaolin clay along with rosemary, castor oil, stearic acid, glycerin and sunflower extract. Rosemary has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, making it a good skin purifier along with the clay. Sunflower extract protects the skin from the environment as well as being anti-inflammatory. The castor oil, stearic acid and glycerin help to retain moisture in the skin and protect the skin’s natural barriers.
Kaolin Clay Soap
Kaolin clay has many uses as an ingredient in soap. It can be used to fix the scent of the soap, or increase its whiteness and opacity.
Kaolin has many benefits when added to soap including cleaning, polishing and exfoliating the skin.
If you want to try a soap with added kaolin clay, the SOAPS4ME Anti-Wrinkle Handmade Natural Facial Soap is a gentle kaolin soap which also contains calendula, aloe vera, honey, green team gotu kola, turmeric, bee pollen and shea butter.
Kaolin Clay Toothpaste
Kaolin clay is high in calcium, silica, zinc and manganese, as well as being detoxifying. This makes it a perfect ingredient in toothpaste as it is able to polish and whiten teeth. Since this is such a gentle clay it is good for people with sensitive teeth and gums. It gently draws toxins from the mouth while at the same time soothing the gums.
Georganics make toothpaste tablets using kaolin clay. To use you simply chew one tablet, brush the teeth for two months and then rinse the mouth thoroughly with water. The tablet will gently remove stain and reduce plaque.
Kaolin Clay Deodorant
Kaolin Clay makes excellent deodorant since it absorbs both oil and water, so it removes excess sweat and sebum from the skin. It also absorbs odours and toxins while at the same time drawing heavy metals from the skin.
Aurelia has made a multi award-winning, natural cream deodorant which contains kaolin. It has a cream to powder consistency and contains both arrowroot and kaolin which absorb perspiration throughout the day. They also inhibit bacteria.
The cream also contains shea butter, tea tree oil, eucalytpus and peppermint which are all antiseptic and antibacterial. It is fragrances with lavender and bergamot.
Make a DIY Clay Mask
You can make your own DIY clay mask using kaolin clay and mixing in other clays, essential oils or herbs.
DIY Clay Mask with Charcoal
Charcoal has purifying and detoxifying properties and makes an excellent addition to a kaolin clay mask.
DIY Clay Mask with Tea Tree
Tea tree is both anti-fungal and antibacterial, so makes a good addition to a clay mask for acne prone or oily skin.
FAQs on DIY Clay Masks
What do clay masks do?
Clay masks absorb excess oil and grime from the skin and prevent acne and blackheads. Since they remove dirt from the pores, they help to tone the skin and improve its texture.
How often do you use a clay mask?
The frequency that you use a clay mask will depend on how oily your skin is, or if you have especially dry skin. In general you should use a clay mask at least once a week but no more than three times a week.
How long do you leave clay masks on for?
Leave the mask on for 15 minutes before rinsing it with warm water.
How do clay masks draw out impurities?
Clays are negatively charged minerals. When applied to the skin they exchange toxins, chemicals and bacteria in the skin for minerals.
Make a Clay Bath Bomb
If you want to make a Kaolin clay bath bomb, I have a full bath bomb recipe here. Just make sure to add 4 tablespoons of kaolin clay to the recipe!
Which Clay is Right for You?
Use the chart below to discover which is types of clay suit your skin: French green clay, White clay, Moroccan clay, Blue clay, Yellow clay or Black clay.
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