Clay is formed by the slow erosion of granite rocks and for this reason it is a land rich in minerals and trace elements, starting from iron up to gold particles: it therefore has various powers on the skin and different clay colour. The clay contains specifically:

  • clay minerals, natural crystalline earthy materials with fine grain size composed of hydrated aluminum silicates, with magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium or sodium present as essential constituents. Each clay mineral has a unique cosmetic or therapeutic function and can be used for wound healing, skin lightening, color beautification, sebum absorption, hydration, vascularization and elimination of toxins;
  • organic compounds, such as soluble salts, particles of quartz, pyrite, calcite, other non-clay minerals and amorphous components.

Clay: properties in cosmetics

From a cosmetic point of view, clay has the natural ability to attract and absorb toxins and pathogenic bacteria from the epidermis, taking them away with washing. It has a high bactericidal, purifying and healing power and is also recommended for cellulite treatments. Used with water in the baths or through the use of muds and masks, it releases its precious minerals to the skin and simultaneously absorbs toxins and eliminates dead cells. It is therefore excellent for regenerating and cleansing the face and body, making them luminous and re-oxygenated. It is also used for acne-prone skin, to absorb pus and toxins, purifying the pores of the skin and preventing the formation of pimples and imperfections.

Clay colour 

Here are the most common types of clay colour on the market and their known characteristics: white clay, red clay, pink clay, green clay, blue clay, yellow clay.

Clay colour: specific properties

1. white clay is recommended for very delicate, thin and dry skin:

white clay, or also called kaolin, is mainly composed of silicon (48%) and aluminum (36%), which give it the characteristic silvery-white odor). Its mineral content is lower than all other types of clay, plus it has a rather low pH (pH 5). White clay is invigorating and less absorbent than other types of clay, so it is more tolerable for those with sensitive skin. White clay has a predominantly antiseptic and remineralizing action and is more suitable for treating dry or normal skin. It also has purifying, energizing and healing properties. The minerals contained in the white clay promote a cell renewal action so it can be considered as an anti-aging ingredient, even for sensitive skin, which someone also uses for psoriasis.

2. green clay is recommended for normal and oily, non-dry and non-sensitive skin:

the clay is green because it comes from a combination of iron oxides present in the rocks that formed this clay and marine plant material (mainly kelp algae but also other algae). Compared to the white variant, green clay provides the skin with a greater quantity of minerals and trace elements, is rich in silica, manganese, potassium, aluminum, iron oxides and traces of gold, silver and copper, titanium oxide. The pH is about 7. As a base for masks it is more absorbent than kaolin, therefore it is recommended for combination skin with an oily tendency and acne. Green clay is excellent, as well as a mask, to be used in the tub to clean and soften the skin. Green clay absorbs and removes impurities from the epidermis, helps absorb excess sebum from the skin, is great for large pores and blackheads (black or whiteheads). At the same time, this clay has the widest spectrum of effects: it works by purifying and stimulates blood circulation, stimulates skin processes, improves texture and gives radiance, strengthens injured areas and revitalizes cells, in addition it acts as a mild peeling.

3. red clay is recommended for normal skin:

red clay has a high content of iron, magnesium, silica, calcium and potassium, and is low in aluminum. Its deep red color derives from the richness of iron oxides present in the rock that formed this clay. Red clay exfoliates, purifies and detoxifies the skin, making it toned and rejuvenated. It is recommended for cleansing and toning normal skin.

4. pink clay is recommended for delicate and mature skin:

pink clay is also called calamine, and is a mix of red and white clay, rich in minerals, silica and iron oxide, trace elements that make it first of all a powerful antioxidant, able to fight free radicals, slow down the aging and keeping the skin younger and more compact. It is a gentle and delicate clay that stimulates the blood circulation of the skin, as well as providing a gentle exfoliation and cleansing. It is suitable for mature, sensitive or dry skin. Helps reduce irritation and inflammation from aggravating skin conditions, such as acne.

5. yellow clay is recommended for oily, mature skin that needs firming:

yellow clay owes its color to the presence of illite, iron and copper. It can boast (like the others) a purifying, detoxifying, exfoliating, toning effect and is a stain remover. Excellent for combination and oily skin because it rebalances the production of sebum, but also has a deep antibacterial and healing action. Rich in trace elements, it is useful for asphyxiated and dull skin that needs a remineralizing treatment. Yellow clay is also effective against wrinkles, tightens the skin and prevents sagging, so yellow clay is more suitable for mature skin. Yellow clay stimulates circulation and also nourishes normal and brittle hair.

6. blue clay is recommended for combination skins:

Combined skin is probably the most common type of skin: it is the combination of two or more different skin conditions on the same face. Blue clay, in its composition, is a good blend of white and green clay, and is therefore perfect for combination skin; it has moisturizing and tonic properties, with regular use the skin softens and returns its original shine. A good skin balance is also achieved on dry and oily areas of the face. blue clay also effectively relieves stressed skin.

Some rules to prepare a perfect mask

  • do not use clay every day, use it a maximum of twice a week and remember that it is very important afterwards to nourish the skin with a good cream or oil, because the clay really cleans the skin deeply;
  • to prepare a clay mask it is important not to use any container or tool to mix the metal: the containers can be ceramic or plastic and wooden spoons are suitable for mixing. All must be perfectly clean and dry.
  • to prepare the “base paste” of the mask it is necessary to rehydrate the clay; the ideal, in order not to alter the final consistency, would be to add the water (or the extract) without shaking, letting it absorb slowly, mixing only once 15-20 minutes have passed. Any other ingredients will be added at this stage, stirring quickly and continuously during the addition, except for any oils that will preferably be added to the dehydrated powder.
  • the final consistency of the dough must be thick but sufficiently “spreadable”, so if it dries too much it is good to add more liquid to make it more fluid; if it is excessively liquid it does not adhere well to the skin, while if it is dense it does not “penetrate”.
  • the clay mask should be removed from the skin as soon as it dries. If it dries too quickly it risks dehydrating the skin, so next time it is advisable to enrich the recipe with a vegetable oil or honey.

4 steps to making a perfect face mask

  1. Thoroughly cleanse your face to remove all traces of makeup. Tie your hair back and away from your face. Moisturize your lips with some lip balm before applying the mask around the mouth area as this will help prevent the mask from getting on your lips – it doesn’t taste good and could dry out;
  2. using a brush or very clean fingers, apply a layer of mask on the face, avoiding the eye area;
  3. leave the mask until it hardens. how long it takes depends on the thickness of the applied layer and how wet your face is, but wait 15-20 minutes;
  4. to remove, make a grimace, an “or” with your mouth, pretend to yawn; Once the mask is slightly detached from the skin, gently wash or rub the mask in small circular motions to loosen it further, then wash away any traces of the mask.

Clay but not only: synergies!

With clay, which can only be prepared with simple water, you can also prepare it by your choice by mixing it with: hydrosols, essential oils (including: lavender, geranium, rosemary, tea tree), vegetable oils (including: jojoba oil, rose oil, olive oil, calendula oil), aloe gel, fruit, yogurt … depending on what you want to get as a benefit. The choice is truly vast. For example, a 2012 Clinical trial published in PubMed, of which you can find the abstract here, provides preliminary evidence that jojoba oil healing clay facial masks can be an effective treatment for broken skin and mild acne vulgaris.

Dr. Laura Comollo

Visit our cosmetics department or contact us for any clarification or for more information.


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