Clay has been effectively used for centuries in a variety of heath and beauty treatments. Today, most of us are familiar with images of women receiving clay facial mask treatments or lounging in mud baths. While clay treatments often appear on the service menu at many spas, clay can be conveniently used at home for beauty and health treatments. There are many different types of clay that serve multiple purposes and are best suited for different skin types.
The most abundantly available type of cosmetic clay in the United States is bentonite. Out of the entire world, the largest known reserves of bentonite clay are found in the state of Wyoming. In addition to being taken internally for digestive upset and weight loss, the powerful green clay is also applied externally to remedy multiple skin conditions and to draw out toxins. Bentonite clay causes tingling and redness during use; therefore, it may be uncomfortable for those who have extra sensitive skin. Applying a moisturizer after treating the skin with bentonite clay is recommended.
Also known as cosmetic white clay, kaolin is the gentlest of the clays that are typically used for skincare purposes. The fine-textured clay can be applied as a mask to absorb excess oil and stale sebum from the skin. Kaolin is even gentle enough to be used as a daily cleanser and can be combined with sugar to make an exfoliant. People whose skin is sensitive or easily irritated should consider trying kaolin as a “starter" clay before venturing on to try other clay varieties.
Technically a subtype of kaolin clay, rose clay derives its characteristic pink to orange hue from iron oxide. Similar to white kaolin, rose clay is very easy on the skin and is even more suitable for dry skin due to its very gentle oil-absorbing properties.
French Green Clay
As indicated by its name, French green clay is a fine green clay from France, though nowadays the clay is also sourced from China, Montana, and Wyoming. Strong oil-absorbing capabilities make this clay suitable for very oily skin. The clay derives its green color from decomposed plant matter and iron oxide, and its rich mineral content consists of dolomite, manganese, silica, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, and calcium.
Dark reddish in color, rhassoul clay has been used by royal families in the Middle East and North Africa since ancient times. Found in the mountains of Morocco, rhassoul is rich in magnesium, potassium, calcium, and silica. The clay extracts toxins and absorbs oil without upsetting the skin, making it a milder option for more sensitive skin types.
Those who are new to cosmetic clays will find a wide world of options, each corresponding to certain skin types and conditions. When using clay as part of a skincare regimen, it is best to maintain the improved results by following a daily regimen that includes an organic cleanser, moisturizer, toner, and regular exfoliation. In some cases, results may be immediate, while other users may need to use clay masks weekly along with an all-natural daily skincare routine to observe improved skin over time.