Mud-masking has been around since ancient times, and for good reason. Good old-fashioned earth has lots of skin benefits. While in recent times the stuff is bottled and sold (because traveling to the Dead Sea for a facial might be a wee bit impractical), the elementary ingredients intrinsically remain the same—and clay masks have become a huge part of our modern-day beauty routines.
Clay is the star component in so many masks because it absorbs impurities and helps heal your skin. As you may have noticed, clay masks come in a multitude of colors and a multitude of clays—all of which have different specialties.
In general, clays are soft, fine-grained mineral substances. There are different types of clay which vary in composition depending on the origin. While the properties of each clay varies, they are most commonly used in skincare because of their absorption properties. When applied, clay pulls oil from the skin, leaving it balanced and clean.
Clay in a few different colors—white, yellow, red, and pink are the more popular ones, all of which vary in their abilities. White kaolin clay is the gentlest and thus great for sensitive dry skin. It doesn’t absorb so much as it does soften with super gentle bits for a mild exfoliation. Yellow kaolin clay is slightly more absorbent and exfoliating but still remains gentle enough for sensitive skin. This can be more circulation-boosting, so you’ll probably find it in a lot of brightening masks. Red kaolin clay has the most absorbing powers of the bunch and is best for oily skin. This is a great addition for acne/detoxifying masks for the face or body. Pink kaolin clay is pretty much a mixture of the white and red kaolin clays, making it an idea balance for those with sensitive skin that needs a bit of oil-vacuuming and gentle exfoliation.
Depending on your skin type, one clay may be better suited for your skin than another. For example, kaolin clay is a fine-grained clay with mild absorption properties, which makes it better for dry to normal skin. On the other hand, french green clay and bentonite clay have stronger absorption properties, making them a good fit for oily skin.
In general, clays are best for normal to oily skin types because they absorb moisture. If you have extremely dry skin, products containing clay can leave your skin feeling a little uncomfortable. Drier skins can still use clay products. But, it’s important to choose a milder clay. If you’re formulating skincare recipes and would like to include clay, learn which is best suited for your skin type below.