As more of us become educated about the toxic ingredients in everyday products, it's no wonder that we're moving away from synthetic chemicals and choosing natural items. Whether it's pesticides in produce, phthalates in cosmetics, or chemicals in our cookware, it's not worth risking the potential long-term health effects.
Fortunately, there are plenty of synthetic-free options these days — and when it comes to self-care, kaolin clay is a winner. In this guide, we'll share all you need to know about this ancient mineral that's popping up in everything from skincare and haircare products to cosmetics, deodorant, and toothpaste.
What Is Kaolin Clay?
Also known as China clay, white clay, or kaolinite, kaolin clay is a mineral that's naturally found in the earth, especially in moist climates. Kaolinite is mined all over the world, including China, India, France, Australia, Morocco, Brazil, and the United States (particularly in the state of Georgia). It has a soft, compact, clay-like texture that is soft yet resilient.
Kaolin clay is composed primarily of the mineral kaolinite as well as silica, magnesium, calcium, iron, sodium, and zinc. (All minerals we need for good health!) Although kaolinite usually has a white color, its hue will vary based on the exact mineral composition of the soil where it originates. For example, kaolin clay rich in iron oxide will have a more reddish shade while kaolinite with a higher degree of plant material will result in green clay.
Kaolin Clay Benefits
While we're seeing kaolin enjoying more popularity in recent years, it was used as a medicinal clay to treat rashes, inflammation, and other maladies as far back as ancient Egypt. Years later in the early 1900s, it was even used as a treatment for cholera. Although it's mostly used externally today, kaolin is still sometimes ingested to treat digestive issues or act as an anti-diarrheal.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) deems kaolin to be generally recognized as safe for such uses, but always talk to your physician before taking any supplement, even if it's natural. There aren't many reported side effects for taking kaolin internally, but it could cause constipation and negatively interact with other medications.
For our purposes, we'll stick to the external uses of kaolin clay, which offer plenty of advantages. More recent studies show that because of its "adsorption and absorption capacities" and "extremely fine particle size," kaolin minerals can "remove oils, secretions, toxins, and contaminants from the skin."
You can use kaolin in the form of clay or clay powder to:
- Cleanse: Kaolin clay is an excellent cleanser that removes impurities and absorbs excess oil.
- Exfoliate: Kaolinite removes dead cells from the skin's surface without over-drying and stripping natural oils.
- Soothe: This clay's cooling and anti-inflammatory properties help calm (and prevent) irritated skin and acne breakouts.
- Stimulate: Kaolin can revitalize circulation and bring a healthy glow to the complexion.
Uses for Kaolin Clay
There are many uses for kaolin clay. Keep in mind that not all kaolin clay products are designed to use on your body. Avoid industrial-grade clays that are intended for household applications or other uses like pottery-making or insect repellent. Always read the labels carefully and only buy high-quality, 100% pure kaolin clay from reputable brands that are transparent about ingredients. Below are some fantastic ways you can include kaolin clay as part of your self-care routine.
More than anything, kaolin is known as a must-have ingredient for natural skincare. From reducing breakouts and soothing flare-ups to exfoliating skin to reveal a smooth and luminous appearance, this multipurpose clay works great as a facial mask, scrub, or cleanser. Give these a try:
- Bare Cleanser liquid face cleanser for sensitive skin
- Earth Face Wash with white kaolin clay and French green clay
- Char-Glow Mask infused with colloidal silver, kaolin, activated charcoal, and coffee
Along with skincare products, kaolinite is becoming a go-to cosmetic clay that offers a natural, skin-enhancing alternative to chemical-laden products. Before making your next makeup run, consider these customer favorites:
- All-natural clay-blend foundation powder
- Lustrous eyeshadow and liners in a variety of shades
- Clay-infused blush for buildable cheek color that can be used wet or dry
Kaolinite isn't just great for taking care of your skin — this natural clay does wonders for your oral hygiene. You can find it in tooth powders for a gently cleansing effect. Here are some products to consider:
- Charcoal-infused toothbrush and toothpowder
- Toothpaste and gum serum (you can choose your flavors!)
- Toothpaste with kaolin clay and colloidal silver
The detoxifying and absorbent qualities of kaolin can help clean and soothe the scalp. Along with removing dirt and impurities that can build up from shampoos and conditioners, it can also remove excess oil. (You can even use it as a natural dry shampoo if you like.) Whether you're looking for a hair clay mask, styling paste, or other hair product, be sure to read the entire ingredient list to avoid any artificial colors, fragrances, and chemical additives.
Different Types of Kaolin Clay
In general, all kaolin clays are safe to use and they act similarly to one another. Still, there are some distinctions between them. Here's what you need to know about these clays so you can make an informed decision when shopping.
- White kaolin clay: The most common kaolin color, this white clay works well for all skin types. It gently exfoliates dry skin and removes dead skin cells without the need for abrasive scrubs that could end up damaging your skin.
- Pink kaolin clay: Also known as rose clay or French pink clay, this is the mildest of the bunch. This pretty pink-hued kaolinite is ideal for those with sensitive skin since it's extremely fine and not as absorbent as green or red clay.
- Green kaolin clay: Also known as French green clay, this popular kaolin clay is highly absorbent, making it perfect for acne-prone and oily skin. Scientific studies show that French green clay is especially effective as an antibacterial agent.
- Red kaolin clay: This red clay gets its vibrant rust color from the presence of iron oxide. Like green clay, it has strong absorbing properties and works great for removing excess oil and toxins as well as toning skin. Because of the high iron levels, red clay is particularly helpful for purifying problem skin.
A Multi-Tasking Clay You'll Love
It seems that no matter what cutting-edge concoction the latest skincare or beauty brand comes up with, a return to basics is what most of us are seeking. We are continuously exposed to harmful chemicals in the environment and even our own homes, so it's more important than ever to reduce the risk and opt for natural, synthetic-free products whenever possible.
Kaolin clay is one way you can clean up your self-care routine. It's an effective ingredient that can draw out impurities from your skin, teeth, and hair to let your natural beauty shine.
Now that you know more about kaolin clay and its many benefits and uses, there's no doubt you'll be adding it to your wishlist. For more ideas on how to adopt a more natural and chemical-free lifestyle, be sure to check out the Primal Life Organics blog loaded with the top tips, trends, and techniques for living your healthiest and happiest life.