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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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