Clays are used in facials all over the world for their ability to cleanse the skin, draw out toxins from the skin and tighten the pores.

See an earlier post I made about face masks here,

Clays come in different colours, and different types of clays work best for different skin types.

I want to discuss the various types of clay and the most suitable skin type for each in this post.

First, let me start by saying that clays are mineral products that are mined under the earth surface and are usually formed by the activity of the environment over time on rocks in a certain area.

There are different types of clays depending oh how they are formed such as

  • Illite
  • Montmorillonite
  • and Kaolin clays.

Amongst these 3 types, the montmorillonite types has the most drawing properties, this is because this type of clay is part of the smectite group . These group of clays swell up when wet and shrink when dry, and that shrinking property is what gives the unique ability of draw out oils from the skin. Hence they work best for people with oily skin types

The kaolin clays however, do not shrink when dry and so are not really great at pulling out oils from the skin. So they tend to work better for dry or sensitive skin types

Illite clays are generally light and fluffy and do not  expand when hydrated. They  are mostly anti bacterial and more useful for cleansing and gently exfoliating the skin.

Due to the structural packing of clays, they can be used to absorb toxins from surfaces and hence can be used both internally in the body and externally on the skin to remove toxins.

Before using any clays internally, however, make sure that its a pharmaceutical grade so as not to ingest harmful substances and heavy metals.

So now to the real deal..

Which clay is good for me?

Oily skin types

Typically oily skin types will benefit a lot by using  montmorillonite group of clay, due to their ability to draw oil from the skin as they shrink when dry.

Common Montmorillonite clays include Bentonite clay, French green clay, Fullers Earth clay,  Moroccan Red clay,

Normal Skin types

Normal Skin / sensitive skin types can try Moroccan rhassoul , kaolin or illite clay

Dry skin

Due to ability of clays to absorb oils from the skin, to varying degrees, its best to use illite or smectite group clays for dry skin .

Some oil can be mixed in with the clay to also reduce the drying effect of the clay on the skin.


Feel free to mix more than one clay together depending on what you want to achieve, for instance if you have acne a mixture of illite clay (which is excellent for pulling out toxins and has good exfoliating and antibacterial qualities) mixed with a montmorillonite clay like French green clay which is great for pulling out excess oils from the skin would be a fantastic combination.

Next post we will discuss how to mix clay powder to make a face mask.

Kindly drop your comments below



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