Though its name may not be immediately familiar, kaolin is an active ingredient in many skincare products. Kaolin is a type of soft, clay-like substance that is used in various facial products such as masks, peels, soaps, cosmetics, and other products and treatments. Due to its origins in Chinese clay mixtures, it is sometimes referred to as China clay. It is a natural, white mineral that has been used for hundreds of years for skincare, medicinal treatments, pottery, and other purposes. Kaolin continues to be a popular ingredient in beauty products due to its safe nature, absorbency, and soothing properties. Kaolin is created by the chemical weathering of certain minerals, which leaves the clay behind. It can sometimes be tinted a reddish hue in areas where iron oxide is present.
Kaolin is used in the skincare and beauty industry in a variety of ways. It is most commonly used in facial masks, but also appears in other products. Kaolin is a very absorbent substance. This quality makes it ideal for purifying masks as it helps to clear pores of problematic dirt, oil, pollutants, and other impurities. The clay texture of kaolin makes it a popular ingredient in masks as it provides skincare benefits and also acts as an excellent base. The thickness of kaolin is ideal for holding other ingredients in the mixture and its ability to penetrate the pores makes it a good delivery mechanism for other treatments.
Other serums and products that are intended to reduce the skin's level of oiliness throughout the day rely on kaolin to absorb excess moisture and oil. These products utilize this natural ingredient to keep skin looking fresh and healthy while reducing the appearance of excess shine. Though kaolin may not be ideal for people with dry skin, it is suitable for combination and sensitive skin types. For users with combination skin that experience excess oil on some areas of the face, kaolin works to clear the pores and to soak up excess moisture without causing flakiness or overly dry patches on other areas.
Many cosmetic companies incorporate kaolin into face powders, liquid powders, and foundations. In these products, kaolin works to ensure a smooth finish while preventing the powder or foundation from caking or appearing uneven. Due to its absorbent nature, kaolin is an ideal ingredient in cosmetic powders as it helps reduce oily shine throughout the day. As many foundations and powders can prompt the skin to produce more oil, kaolin products help to fend off this issue and keep skin looking fresh and matte.
Many facial cleansers also include kaolin as an ingredient. In these products, kaolin plays multiple roles. It is excellent for regulating the oil and moisture in skin, promoting a smoother and healthier complexion, and absorbing excess shine. Kaolin provides acne-fighting benefits to breakout-prone skin by improving skin's balance and reducing the levels of pore-clogging oils, dirt, and toxins. General skin inflammation, caused by a variety of environmental factors, can also be addressed with kaolin cleansers. Kaolin increases circulation to the impacted areas of skin, helping to stimulate healing and to reduce irritation. Using a cleanser that contains kaolin prior to applying makeup can help to control oil production and prevent unwanted shine.
Some bath product manufacturers add kaolin into bath formulas to improve the texture of the water and to pamper skin. This is intended to give the bath water a luxurious smoothness. Kaolin bath products are reported to have a soothing effect on irritated or sensitive skin, leaving skin soft and smooth.
In some regions of the world, kaolin was traditionally used to treat an upset stomach or diarrhea. It can also be found in clay used for making pottery. Kaolin is often credited for the signature look of porcelain and other Chinese-style ceramics. Other items include trace amounts of kaolin for various purposes, such as toothpaste, paper, additives used in food, and other common goods.
The only recorded negative health impacts caused by kaolin are associated with high levels industrial inhalation in a setting such as a mine. Pure kaolin is available for purchase as many users like to experiment with creating their own masks and other skincare solutions using the safe and natural mineral.