Kaolin Clay, also known as China Clay or White Clay, is a soft powder containing primarily the mineral kaolinite and other minerals like muscovite, quartz, feldspar, and anatase. The name “Kaolin” comes from the ‘Gaoling’, a Chinese village, where it was first found and mined. For many years, kaolin clay had an essential value in China’s manufacture, porcelain development, and industrial application such as paper, rubber, organic plastic, paint making. Due to its fine composition, chemical inertness, absorption, and purifying properties, kaolin clay continues to be a valuable component in the cosmetic and beauty industry as well. It is widely used in skin, oral and hair care products. Also, the clay applied as an active ingredient or excipient material in pharmaceutical formulations.
There are different types of kaolin clay occurring in nature; they can vary in colors. Depending on the mineral and plant composition of the soil, kaolin clay may have pink, green, red hues, but its pure form is white. All these clay differ in their characteristics, like absorption level and their softness – the lighter color, the gentler clay is.
White kaolin clay: it is the purest form and the most widely used in the beauty industry; the fine powder can be easily incorporated into products. This clay is the gentlest type, provides mild exfoliation and softens the skin. It is the most suitable for dry and sensitive skin types.
Red kaolin clay: high levels of iron oxide gives the clay red color. Here, the iron works as a skin-soothing, meaning that this clay benefits ageing and damaged skin. 1
Pink kaolin clay: it is a mix of white and red clay that gently cleans the skin and controls the oil balance. It will be a good alternative for sensitive and combination skin types. Pink kaolin clay also helps fight skin irritations and redness. 2
Green kaolin clay: iron oxide and ancient plants add a green hue to the clay. It has the highest oil-absorbing properties, which helps to treat acne and reduce the level of oil. This makes it suitable for oily and normal skin types. 1, 3
Kaolin clay provides beneficial properties for maintaining healthy skin and hair. This clay is the mildest and gentlest among other clay varieties. Its soft texture is suitable for any skin type: oily, dry, sensitive, or combination. The main benefits of kaolin clay are preventing dermatological issues, improving skin conditions, excessing oil or sebum, and treating acne and breakouts. It may also offer healing, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial benefits and be used as an exfoliating cleanser to absorb impurities and refresh the skin. 4 Kaolin clay is rich in silica dioxide and has a neutral pH level that does not harm the skin. 5 Hence, it is commonly employed in the form of a face mask, cleanser, or scrub that is used for certain purposes: purify pores, exfoliate, clean, or soothe the skin. Kaolin clay became part of an everyday skincare routine and found in many beauty products.
- Reduces oily skin symptoms
Kaolin minerals balance skin’s oil production by absorbing excess sebum without pulling away too much skin’s moisture and causing dryness. The clay serves as a cleanser that removes contaminants, minimizes pores’ appearance and leaves the skin clean. Applying once or twice a week will help to sustain a healthy glow. 4, 5, 6
- Treats acne
Dirt and oil trigger the pore-clogging, causing pimples, blackheads, whiteheads and other acne spots. 7, 8 Kaolin clay penetrates the pores, prevents clogging and removes toxins without irritations. The other essential benefit is antibacterial properties that are useful in treating acne. Green kaolin clay has a high absorption level and works as a natural detoxifier, and it fights better with acne and excessively oily skin.
- Calms sensitive skin
According to research, kaolin clay masks are recommended for dry and sensitive skin to ease the discomfort. Healing and soothing properties have a good effect on irritable skin, reducing inflammation and rashes. 2 The kaolin clay treatment should be part of a regular skincare routine to see positive results. However, frequent application can cause skin dryness; using once a week is enough to keep a healthy look of the skin and reduce clogged pores’ likelihood. 8
- Hair strengthener
When it comes to hair, the clay has similar results as when applied to the skin. A gentle exfoliator supports a healthy scalp by eliminating dead skin cells, toxins and revitalizing the scalp. The clay removes dirt and oil, may prevent dandruff, and its minerals soothe the scalp. 4 It also stimulates blood circulation to the scalp, strengthening the roots. However, more studies are required to prove the benefits for hair growth. 4, 8
Even that kaolin clay has a fine texture, the overuse or leaving a mask too long on your skin can still trigger
● redness, or
● rash. 8
To avoid any side effects, it is recommended to use kaolin clay no more than twice a week. Since we all have different skin types, the approach should be individual as well. In some cases, the use of this treatment can be limited even more if required. 4, 8
- Moran, A., 2020, “Kaolin Clay: Everything You Need to Know”, https://www.teadorabeauty.com/blogs/all/brazilian-kaolin-clay-cleansing-detoxifying-stimulating-for-skin-care
- Foster, K., 2020, “It’s Official: Kaolin Clay is the Ultimate Gentle Acne-Fighter”, https://www.ipsy.com/blog/kaolin-clay
- Sinha, R., 2020, “Kaolin Clay For Skin: What Is It, Benefits, And How To Use It”,
- Jensen, B., 2020, “The Benefits of Kaolin Clay for Your Skin”,
- Fox, L., Csongradi, C., Aucamp, M., Plessis, J., & Gerber, M. (2016). Treatment Modalities for Acne. Molecules. 21(8): 106
- C. Hernández, A., E. Awad, M., Meléndez, W., González, G., López-Galindo, A., Sánchez-Espejo, R., García-Villén, F. & Viseras, C. Special Clays and Their Applications. (2019). 9(12), 756 https://www.mdpi.com/2075-163X/9/12/756/htm
- César Viseras, C., Carazo, E., Borrego-Sánchez, A., García-Villén, F., Sánchez-Espejo, R., Cerezo, P. & Aguzzi, C. (2019). Clay Minerals in Skin Drug Delivery. (2019) Clays and Clay Minerals. 67, 59–71 https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s42860-018-0003-7
- E. Awad, M., Lopez Galindo, A. Kaolinite in pharmaceutics and biomedicine. (2017). International Journal of Pharmaceutics. 533(1) https://www.researchgate.net/publication/319982517_Kaolinite_in_pharmaceutics_and_biomedicine