Updated: Mar 25
What Is Clay?
When many of us hear the word clay, and we think of art and pottery. Certain soils naturally include clay, which is rich in minerals. Due to the notion that it aids in drawing out impurities and lowers oil production, clay is also traditionally used in cosmetics and traditional medicine.
There are numerous varieties of clay, each with a unique colour, origin, and texture. Kaolin, Bentonite, French Green, Fuller Earth, and Rhassoul clay are the major types of clay used in skincare products. These clays frequently vary in colour and purpose. The benefits of the individual clays vary, with some being better for dry or sensitive skin and others being better for supporting acne treatments.
Clay masks and cleansers are well known for their mineral-rich composition, which includes minerals like silicon oxide, aluminum oxide, potassium oxide, and calcium oxide. Nevertheless, if they are not utilized appropriately, they can be drying and sensitizing.
What you need to know about Clay and your skin
ON THE PLUS SIDE: Clay is believed to assists in reducing excessive oil production and possibly aid the skin's natural processes. The skin may also receive minerals and acids from this in addition to other possible benefits.
ON THE FLIP SIDE: If a clay mask is left on until it dries, the skin may become dry. In some skin types, this can lead to both dryness and irritation. More on this later, but the idea is to utilize clay materials carefully and correctly.
WHO CAN USE CLAY?
All skin types, with the exception of individuals who have a known allergy to it. If you have sensitive or irritated skin, keep an eye out for whether the product your using is pure clay or contains other ingredients. Clay may increase the sensitivity of your skin to other ingredients.
The Most Common Types of Clay
Bentonite clay, also called calcium bentonite clay or Montmorillonite clay, has been used by humans for a very long time. It is used in traditional hair and skin care products and promotes the growth of wool.
The aluminum phyllosilicate clay that makes up bentonite clay, which is generated from volcanic ash, is known for having therapeutic effects for the skin and hair. Bentonite, like all clays, is extremely absorbent and is primarily used to extract oils and impurities from the skin. This is how bentonite clay earned its reputation as a helpful ingredient in acne treatments.
Fuller’s Earth Clay
The ability of Fuller's earth clay to absorb oils makes it a popular ingredient in laundry detergents and is frequently used to clean up oil spills on pavement. Fuller's earth clay is one of the less popular clays used in skincare because it may be rather drying, however it is frequently suggested for skin types with oily t-zones.
The primary type of clay used in skincare and cosmetic goods is kaolin clay. It comes in several naturally occurring colours, including white, red, and yellow, and each one has a different texture and set of advantages.
The gentlest of the kaolin clays, white kaolin clay is frequently used on dry or sensitive skin types. Because it is less absorbent than the other kaolin clays but still provides minor exfoliating effects to the skin, white kaolin clay is suitable for drier skin types.
Although yellow kaolin clay is typically thought to be acceptable for sensitive skin types, it is somewhat more absorbent and a stronger exfoliator.
The most powerfully absorbing kaolin clay is red, and it is frequently used in body care products, brightening goods, and products for normal to oily skin. Many companies may combine two or more of these clays to produce a solution that offers the skin a variety of advantages. This also applies to the incredibly well-liked pink kaolin clay, which is a blend of red and white kaolin clay.
French Green Clay
French green clay, which is also known as illite or sea clay, is a type of clay that is found in some parts of France. French green clay is a fantastic clay for normal to oilier skin types because of its powerful exfoliating and oil absorption qualities. When used as a mask this clay will firm and tighten the skin as well as the pores.
A kind of clay that has only recently started to gain popularity is rhassoul clay. Clay classified as "rhassoul clay" is mostly found in Morocco and is prized for having a high mineral content. It is typically regarded as medium strength in terms of exfoliation and absorption strength.
Is Clay Actually Good For Your Skin?
Clay is an intriguing substance because it has a lot of useful qualities yet is easy to use improperly.
The ability to gently exfoliate the skin is one of the key advantages of using clays in skincare. Exfoliation can help eliminate dead skin cells from the skin's surface and improve the texture and look of the skin dramatically.
The other key advantage of utilizing clay-based cosmetics is that they may aid in removing extra oil from the skin due to their high absorption capacity. The natural oil production, or sebum, of the skin may be balanced as a result. It's still crucial to utilise clay appropriately, as it's easy to dry out the skin too much and create a new set of skincare problems.
According to reports, clay is a fantastic source of minerals that could potentially aid in brightening the skin's appearance, however little research has been done on the mineral advantages of clay. So although the clay may contain these minerals, it's hard to know how much, if at all, our skin can effectively utilize and benefit from these minerals.
How Do You Use Clay Products?
If clay products are not utilized correctly, they can be drying and sensitizing to the skin. Clay masks with a high clay content present the worst risk. It is best to avoid letting clay masks completely dry when wearing them because doing so can dehydrate the skin and increase irritation. Dehydration can also negate the effects of the mask, dulling the skin's appearance and possibly raising its production of oil as the skin attempts to protect itself from further moisture loss.
Is Clay Safe?
The safety of clay has not been well studied, like that of many other naturally occurring substances. Yet, except from sensitivity and dryness, the research done thus far shows no evidence of any harmful effects.
References: Williams LB, Haydel SE. Evaluation of the medicinal use of clay minerals as antibacterial agents. Int Geol Rev. 2010;52(7/8):745-770. Moosavi M. Bentonite Clay as a Natural Remedy: A Brief Review. Iran J Public Health. 2017;46(9):1176-1183.