Remember back when you were a kid playing with bars of modeling clay, or a student sculpting soft blocks of clay for a ceramics class? That soft, buttery texture felt great on your hands, and depending on the type you were working with, might have even made them feel smoother.
That hunch you had was right! Clay can be extremely beneficial for the skin (although maybe not the neon stuff you loved as a child!). One clay, in particular, has a glowing reputation as a gentle, soothing, oil-balancing skincare darling.
Of course, we're talking about the popular kid in class — kaolin clay.
IN A NUTSHELL
Ingredient Category: Absorbing Agent
Main Benefit: Thanks to strong absorbent properties, a slightly grainy texture, and loads of minerals, kaolin clay benefits skin by nourishing it, pulling away dirt and grime, and removing excess oil. The result is a softened, mattified complexion.
Find It In: Prince Charcoal Detox Mask.
What Is Kaolin Clay?
Kaolin is a clay of many names, including white clay, China clay, and kaolinite. Kaolin clay has been used to manufacture china and porcelain for centuries. It's named after the Kao-ling hill where it was mined in China for hundreds of years.
This soft, natural clay is usually found in nature in powder form, but those impressive folks in white coats can also create a synthetic version in a lab. The versatility kaolin clay has is impressive — it's been used for making rubber, paint, paper, makeup, medicines, and much more.
In the skincare world, kaolin is prized for its absorbency and texture. If you've ever treated yourself to a clay mask, there's a good chance it had kaolin clay in it. That's because it feels buttery soft on the skin, works extremely well as a drying agent, and is mild enough for a variety of skin types.
Kaolin Clay Skin Benefits
When it comes to your face, we know anything drying can seem like a no-go. Why would you want to sap away much-needed moisture? Thankfully, kaolin clay has a gentle touch, absorbing excess sebum and other ickies from your pores without taking too much water with it.
While some clays can be overly powerful and pull way too much of your skin's moisture away as it dries, kaolin clay is more benign. Fun fact: kaolin clay has only one-fifth the absorption rate of bentonite clay.
Oily and combination skin types love kaolin for this reason and often use kaolin clay masks weekly to balance natural oils, draw out impurities, and renew and rejuvenate skin. That consistent removal of unwanted substances also helps control oil and shine, giving skin a softer, mattified look. Plus, you're rewarded with cleaner pores, contributing to a more even tone.
Because kaolin isn't too aggressive, dry and sensitive skin types can benefit from its impurity-pulling prowess too! As long as you don't overdo it, there's no reason not to let kaolin give your complexion a little cleanup.
The benefits don't end there, either. Because kaolin clay can have an oh-so-subtle grainy texture to it, it's perfect for a little gentle exfoliation action. While it's busy kicking pore-clogging baddies to the curb, it's also buffing away flakes and dead skin. The result? A glowing, silky complexion. What a pal!
Finally, using kaolin clay alongside other strategically selected ingredients can help stabilize temperamental skin prone to breakouts. By balancing natural oils and keeping dirt and contaminants at bay, your skin has a better chance of staying clean and clear.
How to Use Kaolin Clay
If you're like us, then you love a good clay mask that's packed with nourishing, natural botanicals and other great-for-you ingredients. That's why one of the most popular ways to use kaolin clay is with a mask like our Prince Charcoal Detox Mask.
There are kaolin clay masks for almost every need, from detox ones like ours to masks formulated for overnight use, hydration, intensive cleansing, soothing, clarifying, brightening, and more. Our own Prince Charcoal smooths, brightens, and restores, leaving you feeling regal.
For extra clay goodness, you can find kaolin in exfoliators, body masks, and cleansers. And if you're truly looking to go cray for clay, you can buy the pure stuff in bulk and whip up a few DIY concoctions. Create your own facial cleanser with a few of your favorite oils (jojoba, anyone?), make an exfoliator mask with witch hazel or rose water, or even a hair mask with yogurt and honey.
One thing to keep in mind is that while kaolin is one of the gentlest clays out there for skin, it's still drying. If you have extremely sensitive skin or live in an arid climate, try not to use it too frequently. And don't forget to do a patch test! You'll also want to steer clear if you take any medications or use other ingredients that already have a drying effect on the skin.
The Many Colors of Kaolin
Those interested in really diving into the world of kaolin clay will be happy to know there are a few variations out there to explore. Depending on where it's mined and its mineral profile, natural kaolin clay can have a colored hue.
The purest form is bright white with a neutral pH level. There's also red kaolin clay, which contains high levels of iron oxide that give it an earthy copper tone. Rose pink clay contains zinc, selenium, manganese, and magnesium, while the green variation holds onto more plant matter.
Each version has different strengths, so feel free to experiment!
We hope we satisfied all your kaolin clay curiosity today. This silky, absorbent clay has been used for centuries for myriad purposes, among them promoting clearer, brighter, happier skin. If you're looking to introduce a soothing, rejuvenating purifier into your skincare routine, kaolin has you covered.