Clay has been used for many purposes throughout history such as cleansing, healing and soothing. The structure of clay has the ability to form and retain versatile characteristics due to its particle size and metamorphosis. For centuries the use of clay has been a part of cultural rituals, ceremonies and cosmetics. Clay has been recognized to promote healing and for cosmetic purposes in the beauty industry because of its therapeutic properties. Using clay regularly can benefit the skin and body internally and externally for therapeutic and medicinal purposes. Found near the Earth’s surface, clay is formed by the chemical reaction of weathering rocks and soil in contact with air, steam and water. The makeup of clay is unique to its minerals depending on its classification.
The benefits of clay are not determined by its range of color, but by its natural resource of decomposed organic matter of plant life, animals and other minerals found in the Earth’s crust. Because of its versatility, clay has been commercialized in the beauty industry for its extraordinary benefits and detoxifying abilities. However, the crystallized structure of clay give it specific properties.
Common Types of Clays
Bentonite clay. Comes from volcanic ash that has been altered in the presence of water. Bentonite is said to be one of Earth’s most powerful and useful clays. It is gray or a grayish cream color, draws out toxins and has anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory properties. The “healing clay” is an absorbent clay consisting of mostly montmorillonite. It has a strong absorption property, making it great for oily skin.
Kaolin clay. “China clay” the name derives from the mineral kaolinite, mostly found in tropical rainforest areas, also high in alumina. This fine-grained clay has mild absorption properties. It ranges in various colors such as white, pink or green depending on the mixture of minerals found. The essential properties of kaolin clay makes it ideal for dry to normal skin. Other kaolin clays are Brazilian clay and rose clay. With gentle absorption and exfoliant properties, this clay can enhance tone and clarity of the skin.
Green clay. Usually found in France, the green color comes from decomposed plants and iron oxides. It has a stronger absorption and is a good fit for oily skin. Green clay also has anti-aging properties, stimulates circulation and has great absorbability.
Fullers earth clay. A mineral-rich clay, mostly composed of aluminum and magnesium, it is known to be super absorbent. Fullers Earth clay is not necessarily classified as a clay, however it falls into that category when compared to dirt. It helps oily and acne-prone skin to draw out excessive oil and impurities.
Rhassoul clay. A magnesium-rich clay found in the valley of Morocco, sometimes called Moroccan red clay. Being one of the more gentler clays, rhassoul is more moisturizing and helps soften the skin. It also helps regulate oil, improve clarity and elasticity. It is ideal for sensitive or mature skin.
Although there are namely five different types of clay masks used in the beauty and cosmetic industry today, I believe the two listed below should be included as well due to its benefits, structure and properties. Similar to bentonite, zeolite and the commonly used dead sea clay are both found in parts of France.
Zeolite clay. Microporus mineral formed from volcanic rocks that react with alkaline. Fine-textured crystallized mineral created by lava and water with a porous structure. It is best suited for oily skin.
Dead sea clay. Fine-textured clay that comes from France. Pure sea clay is known for its magical healing properties. It is also an ingredient found in most clays.
As we know, Earth is well equipped to supply humans with many resources that are beneficial for us to sustain life. The Earth’s crust offers us therapeutic properties to care for skin and bodies. Minerals found in clay encourage cell renewal, increase stimulation and circulation, pull out toxins and impurities, as well as replenish hydration in the skin.
Knowing which clay mask is ideal for your client is imperative and should be discussed with your client prior to using any mask on their skin. Some clients can experience irritation from clays due to sensitivity to minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium, silica and other minerals found in clay masks. Clay offers so many wonderful benefits and can be a great add-on to your facial services and for client's to use at home between facial treatments.