Four Benefits of Kaolin Clay



What Is Kaolin Clay?

Kaolin clay is a natural clay that is used in skincare and cosmetic formulations to help draw out excess oil or sebum from the skin and to gently exfoliate. Kaolin clay is also used to help bulk out product, act as a mild preservative and improve the longevity of powdered cosmetics. 

Kaolin, also known as China clay, is a naturally occurring porous soft clay that is rich in the mineral, kaolinite. Both are given their names from ‘Kaoling’ which is the hill where it was first mined. Pure kaolinite is white; often other minerals are added to kaolinite to produce kaolin clay. These minerals give the clay a slight colour such as  pink hue from iron oxide or a green color from decomposing plant material. 

Kaolin is mined all over the world, from China to Europe to the United States. In Chinese tradition Kaolin clay was used to make porcelain and to treat stomach upsets. Nowadays, in addition to use in cosmetics and personal care products, kaolin is a component of a variety of products, such as porcelain, toothpaste, paint, paper, stomach medications, and more.

Kaolin Clay

the good: Kaolin’s main benefit is that it draws out oil, lifting impurities from the skin. It also has a mild exfoliating effect and helps to preserve the products that it is in.

the not so good:Kaolin clay can be drying when it has been formulated in higher concentrations or when it is used by itself. Be mindful of this, particularly when using clay masks.

Who is it for?Most skin types except those that have an identified allergy to it and dry or dehydrated skin types.

Synergetic ingredients: Works well with most ingredients.

Keep an eye on:Nothing to keep an eye on here.

Four Benefits of Kaolin Clay

In cosmetics and personal care products, kaolin is used to cleanse and exfoliate the skin, as well as add absorbency, texture, and bulk to products. It is commonly found in face powders, face masks, creams and lotions for oily skin, bath powders, foundation, powdered blush, deodorants, and soaps.

  1. Absorbs excess oilKaolin is used as it is able to absorb excess oil from the skin’s surface. This can help to reduce shine and give the skin a matte appearance. Primarily is it used to draw out oil from the skin, lifting dirt, and other impurities from the pores. This is why kaolin is a popular ingredient in clay masks for oily and acne prone skin.
  2. SoothingKaolin clay is often used to help reduce irritation and redness. While this property of kaolin clay has not been fully investigated, anecdotally it often has this effect on irritated or sensitized skin. It is good to keep in mind that kaolin can dry out the skin, potentially introducing dryness and irritation. If your skin is irritated kaolin should not be your main produce to help soothe the skin.
  3. Exfoliating Kaolin is used in exfoliating products because it does not completely dissolve in water; rather, it forms a paste with very fine particles. These particles serve as a gentle abrasive that can exfoliate the top layers of skin, removing dead skin cells, makeup, excess oil, dirt, and other impurities that may have accumulated on the surface during the day. Gentle exfoliation becomes even more important with age since the skin’s natural cycle of shedding dead cells slows down, however, kaolin is more suited to oily or combination skin types.
  4. Cosmetics Kaolin is also used in cosmetic powders and foundations. Powders and foundations that contain kaolin are used to prevent excess shine from oil. Kaolin absorbs the oil, resulting in skin that has a fresh, matte appearance. Its oil control properties allow the makeup to stay on longer, withstanding perspiration and wet or humid conditions. In addition, kaolin-based products effectively hide imperfections and fine lines.
  5. Preservative Lastly, kaolin functions as a natural preservative because of its absorbent properties. In a water-based formulations, kaolin absorbs the water, preventing the growth of bacteria, yeasts, or molds. These microbes cannot survive without water. Therefore, kaolin is an excellent mild preservative ingredient for skincare and cosmetic formulations.

Is Kaolin Clay Safe?

Kaolin clay is considered to be safe for its indicated uses in skincare and cosmetic products. The Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel, a group that investigates the safety of skincare and cosmetic ingredients has assessed the data on kaolin. According to their review, kaolin clay Is safe in cosmetic and skincare formulations. It is a non-sensitizing ingredient however; it can cause dryness when used in higher concentrations or by itself.

Williams, L & Haydel, S, 2010. ‘Evaluation of the medicinal use of clay minerals as antibacterial agents’. International Geology Review, vol. 52, is. 7, pp. 745-770. Moosavi, M, 2017. ‘Bentonite Clay as a Natural Remedy: A Brief Review’, Iranian Journal of Public Health, vol. 46, is. 9, pp. 1176-1186. Hernández, A, 2019. ‘Colloidal and Thermal Behaviours of Some Venezuelan Kaolin Pastes for Therapeutic Applications’, Minerals, vol. 9, is. 12.



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