Some of the most effective skincare is found under your feet.
2 Minute Read
Clays have been part of the beauty world for centuries. Our ancient ancestors dug it up from the ground with their bare hands and, shortly after, discovered its skin-enhancing benefits. While it was traditionally used topically to soothe the skin, in modern times, clay is considered one of the most cleansing and detoxifying ingredients you can use on your complexion.
A mineral-rich substance that naturally occurs in some soils, it is a powerful natural skincare ingredient found in face masks, soaps, cleansers, exfoliators, and even toners. From unclogging pores and keeping oil sebum at bay to oxygenating the cells and offering antibacterial effects, clay is the mineral magic needed for soft, smooth, and glowing skin.
But before you start slathering on any old slop from your local DIY store, you should be looking out for certain types of clay, depending on your skin type. Keep reading to discover the best clay for skin, some of which we feature in Nina’s handcrafted artisan soaps.
Types of Clay for Skin
Discovered: 60 BC Rome
Origin(s): Fort Benton, WY
Skin Type(s): Oily & Acne-Prone Skin
Even if you’re new to cosmetic clays, you’re likely to have come across bentonite clay, as it’s arguably the most common type. It was allegedly first used in skincare around 60 BC Rome
where there were references to people employing minerals and “stones” to treat skin issues.
Although it is possible to source it from various parts of the globe, nowadays, this aged volcanic ash is predominantly found in Fort Benton, WY—hence the name bentonite. There are plenty of bentonite clay benefits for skin, particularly if you’re in search of the best clay mask for oily skin.
This is because bentonite clay works as a sponge on your skin. It binds to dirt, impurities, and excess oil to unclog pores, remove blackheads, and control sebum. It is its extraordinary absorbent power that makes it effective in balancing oily skin, as well as its natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that help heal acne breakouts.
Discovered: 7–8th Century
Origin(s): Gaoling Mountain Village, China
Skin Type(s): Sensitive & All Skin Types
Kaolin clay, also known as white clay or China clay, is mainly made up of the mineral kaolinite. Its name derives from the ‘Gaoling’ mountain village in China, but since it's one of the most commonly occurring minerals on earth, it can also be mined in the United States or Brazil. This resource has been used to make porcelain since the 7th century, but how does it help our skin?
Kaolin clay’s most important feature is cleaning, which is why you’ll find it in Nina’s kaolin clay soap
. Even better, it’s considered one of the gentlest facial clays, making it the optimal cleanser and detoxifying agent for sensitive skin. An antiseptic that helps ward off acne breakouts, it extracts impurities and absorbs excess oils without causing inflammation or redness.
Most soaps in our store are made with Kaolin Clay to reflect all your skin needs.
Discovered: 7–8th Century
Origin(s): Mines Around the World
Skin Type(s): Dry & All Skin Types
Rose clay has similar origins to kaolin clay since it is rich in the mineral kaolinite, but it gets its pinkish hue from the presence of iron oxides, lending to its hydrating properties and making it the perfect choice for dry skin types in need of some TLC. What’s more, these chemical compounds also boost circulation to brighten your complexion—hello, healthy glow!
And just like many of the other clays, it deeply cleanses by absorbing impurities such as dirt, makeup, and oil, as well as exfoliates to leave your skin looking more youthful. With all these benefits in mind, there’s no wonder it is mined from South America, Europe, and Asia today.
Yellow Illite Clay
Discovered: 19th Century
Skin Type(s): Combination Skin Types
Considered the ‘goldilocks’ of clays, yellow illite clay (or French yellow clay) fits perfectly in the middle of the spectrum—not too strong and not too mild. This is what makes it adaptable to any type of skin, especially targeting combination skin types, (i.e. normal to dry/normal to oily).
Formed when minerals in the earth react with heat and acidic groundwater, it is extracted from natural rock quarries in France and contains high amounts of iron, magnesium, potassium, calcium, and trace elements. Wondering how they supercharge your skin?
This potent dose of minerals equals an excellent ingredient for those suffering from dry skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis. In other words, yellow illite clay is ideal for cleansing inflamed complexions without drying out the skin or causing any further irritation.
Moroccan Red Clay
Discovered: 1,400 Years Ago
Origin(s): Atlas Mountains in Morocco
Skin Type(s): Damaged & Mature Skin
Guess what? Kaolin is back—but this time it’s red and sourced from the rugged Altas Mountains in Morocco. Red clay for skin (also known as Ghassoul clay) has been used for many centuries as a potent beauty elixir to enhance the hair and skin of Moroccan women.
Fast-forward to the modern day, and it is prized as a powerful, toxin-free skincare product, renowned for its protective, regenerative, and healing properties. It gets its vibrant color from high levels of iron oxide—compounds known for their hydrating and softening effects.
Moroccan Red Clay has been used for centuries to beautify & refresh when used as a facial mask. This clay is a strong cleansing clay that will draw excess oils from the skin, stimulate circulation to the skin, and act as a powerful astringent for oily skin.
We add clays in the soap to reflect all your skin needs and upgrade your daily bath routine to the luxury spa experience.
1. Detoxifies Skin: Clays are known for their detoxifying effects on the body because of their high levels of ion exchange. It draws out not only dirt and sebum but also toxins and wastes clogging the body.
2. Exfoliates Dead Skin Cells: It has a mild abrasive texture which helps to scrub off dead skin cells when mixed in with water or oil to form a gritty paste. This will leave your skin feeling silky smooth and soft, and those flaky dead skin cells will be no more.
3. Deeply Cleanses Pores & Purifies The Skin: The molecular structure of this clay makes it very efficient at deeply cleansing out clogged pores. It helps draw out the impurities and pollution from deep within the pores of your skin.
4. Reduces Excess Oil from Skin; It soaks up surface oils and sebum within the pores.
5. Soothes Skin Irritations: Moroccan Clay has skin-soothing effects as well. It helps with inflammatory skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.
6. Tightens Large Pores: It has natural astringent properties and because of this, Moroccan clay tightens skin and shrinks large pores.
Products to Try Today in our Store:
Bergamot - Lavender Charcoal & Red Clay Handmade Soap.
Classic Charcoal Lavender and Tea Tree Face & Body Soap Bar, Handmade with Red Clay and Kaolin Clay.
Gardenia, Rose Clay & Activated Charcoal Handcrafted Soap.
Alongside its cleansing and detoxifying duties, red clay is your go-to ingredient if you’re looking to restore your radiance. When used regularly, studies
have shown it improves skin tone, texture, and elasticity while boosting collagen production and eliminating dryness.
In this blog about the best clay for skin, we’ve established that Mother Nature has a mineral-rich resource for everyone—use this knowledge to upgrade your skincare regimen accordingly. And if you’re still unsure of which clay works for you, you can’t go wrong with kaolin clay, as it works its magic on all skin types, including sensitive skin.
P.S. You’ll find it throughout Nina’s Soap Collection!
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