- Kaolin clay is the most gentle and mild of all clays used in skin care
- It’s soft and fine in texture, and is typically white to brown in color depending on the plant and mineral content
- This clay provides a number of skin benefits including exfoliating, smoothing, detoxifying, absorbing excess oils and inhibiting acne
- Kaolin clay is appropriate for all skin types but may exacerbate dry skin
There are several types of clay masks available to detoxify and beautify the skin including bentonite, French green, Australian pink and kaolin. While they do share many common benefits and characteristics, each is slightly different. Kaolin clay masks are the most gentle and mild clays of all.
What Is Kaolin Clay?
Kaolin clay is also known as white or China clay and is typically white in color but can also be found in shades of cream, yellow, red, gray and brown.
This clay is composed of tiny crystals of minerals (including feldspar, quartz, silica, copper, magnesium, selenium and zinc) all of which work to cleanse, nourish and protect the skin.
Clay naturally seeks out toxins to bind with and does so via negatively charged particles which attract and absorb positively charged secretions, toxins and contaminants from the skin.
Kaolin clay smooths, exfoliates and detoxifies skin, absorbs excess oils and fights acne; it can strengthen and improve skin health and brighten your complexion. It also has been shown to have antibacterial and antiseptic properties.
This clay is very gentle and mild and has a relatively low pH level—between 4 and 5—which is close to the skin’s natural pH of 5.5. These characteristics make this clay ideal to retain the integrity of skin and to protect the skin barrier.
Clays are effectively used in facial masks as their high absorbency can draw out oils, toxins, pollutants and bacteria but they offer a number of skin-enhancing benefits.
Acne develops due to the accumulation of excess sebum (oil), dead skin cells and debris within pores causing comedonal acne. When bacteria also becomes trapped, acne symptoms worsen and inflamed pustules and papules develop.
The main driver of acne is this overabundance of oils. Having absorbent capabilities, a kaolin clay mask can remove this excess oil along with bacteria, dirt, debris and dead skin cells to clear pores and lower the risk of acne developing. It can also soothe redness and irritation.
Lastly, kaolin clay can gently exfoliate skin to reduce the risk of pore build-up and acne breakouts.
Kaolin clay masks can be an important part of an anti-aging regimen due to its gentle nature; while it will absorb excess oils, it will not strip skin of sebum, which is a necessary and a natural component of healthy skin.
Sebum not only lubricates but protects the skin from damage via the following characteristics and functions:
- Protects skin via antimicrobial activity
- Delivers fat-soluble antioxidants to the skin’s surface
- Offers natural photoprotection to prevent damage from UV rays
- Provides pro- and anti-inflammatory activity due to specific lipids
Collagen also plays an important role in maintaining skin health and density. As part of the aging process, collagen production naturally diminishes and skin becomes thin and lax.
Silica, which is found in kaolin, is a derivative of silicone and necessary for collagen synthesis. As such, it can contribute to skin health by boosting collagen which improves skin thickness and elasticity and delays the signs of aging.
The very small mineral particles within kaolin clay have a slightly gritty texture to gently but effectively exfoliate skin. They can cleanse, purify and exfoliate to refresh and smooth the skin.
These masks not only slough off flaky dead skin cells and environmental contaminants, they also encourage skin cell turnover. This lightens hyperpigmentation, smooths fine lines and wrinkles, improves texture and stimulates blood flow to improve tone.
Clay masks are valued for their ability to absorb and remove excess oils from skin. Kaolin clay has mild absorbency making it an ideal choice for all skin types – especially sensitive, dry or mature.
Oily skin tends to have enlarged pores and these produce excess oil. Eliminating these oils can minimize pore size and produce a smooth, matte look.
Kaolin clay clarifies skin through deep cleansing and elimination of impurities, oils, dead skin cells and pollutants. Kaolin clay is also a mild astringent to temporarily tighten skin and shrink pores. Clearing this debris prepares skin for better absorption of any serums or creams you use afterward.
How to Make a Kaolin Clay Mask
Aloe vera gel and lavender essential oil combine to deeply moisturize, calm and smooth skin.
- 2 tsp kaolin clay
- 2 drops lavender essential oil
- 1 tsp aloe vera gel
- Water (1 tsp or as needed)
- Combine water with kaolin clay to form a thick, wet paste
- Add the balance of ingredients
- Apply the mask evenly to your face, avoiding the eye area
- Allow to rest for 15 minutes
- Wash off with warm water and apply moisturizer
You can experiment with various essential oils to find the best one for your particular skin:
- Chamomile is best known for its effectiveness in calming irritation and redness
- Eucalyptus delivers antibacterial, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory benefits
- Lavender can soothe irritated skin
- Rosehip hydrates and calms dry, irritated skin
- Tea tree targets redness and inflammation; kills acne-causing bacteria
Oily skin may benefit from a clay mask two times per week while other types should find once a week to be adequate. Monitor your skin and adjust frequency of use based on your skin’s reaction.
Kaolin clay is safe for all skin types but may be too harsh for dry skin. Before using, perform a patch test to ensure you aren’t allergic to this substance.
Although the mask itself poses no danger, kaolin clay is a very fine powder and can be harmful if inhaled repeatedly over extended periods. Out of an abundance of caution, wear a protective mask when preparing your solution to ensure your safety.
Kaolin Clay vs. Bentonite Clay
Kaolin clay has mild absorption properties while bentonite clay has more powerful effects. This makes the former suitable for normal to dry skin; the latter for oily. Overall, kaolin has milder effects on the skin than bentonite but is also more gentle. As well, bentonite has a much higher pH level which can trigger itchiness and irritation.
Kaolin clay is mild and gentle, making it ideal for all skin types. When used within a mask, this clay provides a number of benefits such as detoxifying, exfoliating and smoothing skin. It can eliminate excess oils, prevent acne, lighten hyperpigmentation and strengthen skin.
The minerals within this clay cleanse and detoxify, nourish and protect skin – without stripping away the natural lubricating oils. After use, skin is deeply cleansed, refreshed and softened.
You can easily prepare a clay mask at home and adjust the ingredients as well as the essential oils to individualize your treatment.
Those with oily skin may opt for a mask two times a week; once per week for all other skin types. No matter your type, if you find your skin becomes red, dry or irritated, use less often or discontinue use altogether.
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