The versatility of clay has made it a mainstay in DIY beauty recipes–both now and in ancient cultures. Clay can have medicinal uses such as detoxifying the body and easing digestive issues, but today we are going to focus on the therapeutic and cosmetic benefits for skin.
What is clay?
Clay is a naturally occurring substance rich in minerals like magnesium, calcium, iron, silica, and potassium and it can be found in volcanic ash, sediment, and soil.
What are the benefits of clay for skin?
Depending on the type of clay you use, it can help pull out impurities from inside pores, heal allergic skin reactions, ease effects of sunburn, boost elasticity and balance oil production. (Never use metal containers, spoons or lids when storing or using clay as the metal will interfere with the clay’s efficacy.)
What is the right clay for my skin type?
Oily or Acne Prone
Moroccan Red Clay and White Kaolin Clay both are ideal choices for balancing oily skin and unclogging pores. They absorb excess oil and are often used in recipes for deodorants and masks. White Kaolin Clay is a very fine and light clay, mostly made up of the mineral kaolinite, and is common in many cosmetic products. Moroccan Red Clay is mined in the mountains of Morocco and deep cleanses the pores while stimulating circulation–yet it’s still gentle enough for sensitive skin.
Normal to Oily
Bentonite Clay, formed from volcanic ash, is the most widely used clay and perfect if you aren’t quite sure which clay is right for you. It can absorb excess oil and tighten skin simultaneously. Bentonite Clay also has healing properties internally and is often used to treat digestive issues. Named from a large deposit found in Fort Benton, Wyoming, this clay can definitely serve double duty in your medicine cabinet.
Sensitive or Reactive
French Green Clay, quarried originally in Southern France and then discovered elsewhere, is both detoxifying and healing. It’s an illite clay that is known to remove metals and it gets its green color from kelp and algae. If your skin is suffering from a sunburn, allergic reaction or a wound, this sea clay is the right choice due to it’s anti-inflammatory properties, believed to come from the plant matter in the clay.
A sedimentary clay, Fuller’s Earth has lightening properties for pigmented and aging skin. Due to its strength, Fuller’s Earth can be combined with small amounts of Bentonite Clay. Receiving its name from textile workers named “Fullers”, who used this clay to remove oil from wool, this has become a choice clay for drawing out excess sebum and decolorizing (lightening) oil out of pores.
Rhassoul (or Ghassoul) Clay, not to be confused with Moroccan Red Clay, is rich in potassium, magnesium, calcium and sodium. Mined in Eastern Morocco, Rhassoul Clay is found to have higher percentages of magnesium and silica, making it silky smooth and the first choice for luxury spa treatments. For skin that is losing elasticity and needs deep exfoliation, Rhassoul Clay is the perfect ingredient to firm and revitalize. This clay is the most hydrating of the clays discussed here, as it swells when water is added, helping the skin retain moisture.
No matter what your skin type, there is a clay for you! Have you discovered your favorite use for clay? We would love to hear about it in the comments.