A clay mask isn’t just a pampering treat. If you’ve got oily, acne-prone skin, putting mud on your face can give your skin a matte, shine-free look and keep breakouts at bay.
But what type of clay is best? For moderately oily skin, go with kaolin clay. Here’s why:
- What Is Kaolin Clay?
- Is Kaolin Clay Good For Skin?
- What Else Is Kaolin Used For In Skincare?
- Can You Use Kaolin Clay Daily?
- Can Kaolin Clay Cause Acne?
- Does Kaolin Clay Have Any Side Effects?
- Kaolin Clay Or Bentonite Clay: Which One Is Right For You?
- What Are The Best Skincare Products With Kaolin?
- The Bottom Line
What Is Kaolin Clay?
Kaolin clay is a naturally occurring clay mineral made up of a hydrated silicate of aluminum.
Pure kaoline is bright white, but this clay often contains other minerals that can change its colour. For example, iron dioxide gives it a pink hue while decomposing plant materials turn it green.
In skincare, kaolin is usually ground into a fine powder and mixed with oils or other ingredients to form a thick paste.
P.S. Kaolin clay is sometimes called China clay. This clay is mined all over the world, China included.
Is Kaolin Clay Good For Skin?
If your skin produces excess oil, yes, kaolin clay is very good for your skin. Here’s why:
Like all clays, Kaolin has absorbent properties that soak up excess oil. Less oil = matte skin + no breakouts.
When I say breakouts, I mean blackheads. Whiteheads. Pimples. All kinds of acne.
They all start in the same way. Your skin produces too much oil. The excess gets stuck in the pores, where it mixes with dead skin cells and whatever else it finds in there, forming clogs that become acne. Cut the chain reaction at the source (excessive oil production) and you’re stopping acne in its tracks.
There’s more. Kaolin clay also has anti-inflammatory properties that reduce the redness and swelling that always comes along with pimples.
Related: Stages Of Acne: How Severe Is Yours? (Plus, How To Treat It)
Want a cheap skincare routine for acne-prone skin that really works? Subscribe to the newsletter below to receive “The Ordinary Acne Skincare Routine” cheatsheet:
What Else Is Kaolin Used For In Skincare?
Kaolin has two other jobs in skincare:
- Thickener: It makes textures thicker. For example, you can find them in lipglosses to prevent them from dribbling down your face when you apply them.
- Anti-caking: It also prevents powder products from caking.
Can You Use Kaolin Clay Daily?
Kaolin clay is a powerful ally in the fight against excess oil and acne. But that doesn’t mean you should use it daily. Too much of a good thing is never good for you. In this case, it can take you from excess oil to excess dryness.
If you’ve got oily, acne-prone skin, don’t use it more than 3 times a week.
Related: The Best Skincare Routine For Oily Skin
Can Kaolin Clay Cause Acne?
Kaolin clay isn’t comedogenic and doesn’t cause acne. But it can help you treat it.
As you know by now, excess sebum is the culprit that starts the chain reaction that leads to blackheads, pimples, & co. Soak up the excess and you have less chance of developing acne.
P.S. Kaolin clay can’t single-handedly rid you of acne. It’s just one of the many tools in your anti-acne arsenal.
Related: Adult Acne: Why It Happens And How To Deal With It
Does Kaolin Clay Have Any Side Effects?
Yep. I know sebum is kind of a dirty word in skincare, but your skin makes it for a reason: sebum is your skin’s natural moisturiser.
When your skin has all the sebum it needs (and not a drop more!), your skin is naturally soft and supple. It’s when it pumps out more that you need the help of kaolin clay to soak up the excess.
But what happens when your skin doesn’t make enough in the first place? This is what happens when you have dry skin. It’s not the result of a lack of moisture (water). It’s the result of a lack of oil (sebum).
If you soak up the little oil you have, your skin is gonna get even drier and parched. That’s why I absolutely do NOT recommend kaolin clay to dry skin – under any circumstances.
Related: The Best Skincare Routine For Dry Skin
Kaolin Clay Or Bentonite Clay: Which One Is Right For You?
Both kaolin and bentonite are two types of clays that absorb excess oil and drag impurities out of your pores. But there’s a key difference:
Kaolin is less absorbent than Bentonite. Yep, that means less effective. But are also less irritating. (The two always go hand in hand in the world of skincare).
If you have very oily skin that constantly pumps out way more sebum than your skin needs, go with bentonite.
If your skin is only mildly oily or oily and sensitive, kaolin clay is the better option.
P.S. Lots of masks contain both types of clays, so you don’t have to choose if you don’t want to.
Related: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Bentonite Clay In Skincare
What Are The Best Skincare Products With Kaolin?
- Clinique Pore Refining Solutions Charcoal Mask ($25.50): Available at Feel Unique, Look Fantastic, Nordstrom, and Sephora
- Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Oil-Absorbing Mask ($22.00): Available at Paula’s Choice
- The Inkey List Kaolin Face Mask ($6.99): Available at Cult Beauty and Feel Unique
The Bottom Line
Kaolin clay is a powerful oil-absorber that mattifies moderately oily skin and helps prevent breakouts. It can’t single-handedly treat acne, but it’s an useful tool to have in your arsenal. Plus, it’s so gentle, even sensitive skin can use it.
Do you use skincare products with kaolin? Share your experience in the comments below.