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The Beauty Glossary: K is for Kaolin

Our Beauty Glossary is your definitive guide to every important beauty term ever. From A – Z, we’ll regularly fill you in on beauty ingredients, personalities, products and treatments, so you know exactly who or what to look out for in the beauty space.


Kaolin (also know as China clay, hectorite or magnesium silicate) is a naturally occurring soft clay. In cosmetics, kaolin helps to cleanse and exfoliate dead skin cells and debris from the surface. It adds absorbency, texture and bulk to cleansers.

Kaolin is an active ingredient usually found in thick skincare products such as mask. It’s a natural, white mineral that goes beyond pottery. Because it’s of a safe nature and has great absorbency and soothing properties, it’s quite the popular ingredient in formulas designed to purify.

Kaolin works well in serums and other blends intended to control oil production and shine. Less for dry skin types, it does a great job for combination and sensitive skin types and will seriously aid in clearing pores and soaking up excess moisture without causing flakiness or overly dry patches.

If you experience cakiness with your base, try cosmetic powders containing kaolin. So many foundations and powders can prompt the skin to produce more oil but kaolin products help to fend off this issue and keep skin looking fresh and matte.

The Bottom Line

Kaolin wages war on acne and breakout-prone skin by improving the skin’s balance and decreasing levels of pore-clogging oils, dirt and toxins. General skin inflammation, caused by the usual 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.

Kaolin can be found in the following SkinStore products:


  1. SkinCeuticals Clarifying Clay Masque, $51.00
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    SkinCeuticals Clarifying Clay Masque, $51.00

    Ideal for all skin types, SkinCeuticals’ Clarifying Masque unites the forces of kaolin and bentonite, the highest quality natural earth clays, to clear any traffic jams in your pores as well as purge impurities. Added botanicals and minerals help heal and calm the skin, while a 5% hydroxy acid blend gently exfoliates.

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  2. Paula's Choice Skin Balancing Oil-Absorbing Mask, $19.00
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    Paula's Choice Skin Balancing Oil-Absorbing Mask, $19.00

    Enjoy a smooth canvas with this mask by Paula’s Choice.

    Skin is matte but never dry, and feels balanced but never tight. Free from active ingredients such as menthol, peppermint or alcohol, the clay’s absorbing action will kick out blackheads and cellular debris, but a soothing blend of anti-inflammatory agents will calm redness and prevent irritation.


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  3. Murad Clarifying Masque, $38.00
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    Murad Clarifying Masque, $38.00

    Murad’s clay-based masque will banish impurities with a natural formula. Soothing zinc and brightening licorice extract will calm and comfort, while antioxidant grape seed extract prevents free radical damange, and allantoin protects and heals.

    Bye breakouts!

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  4. Tammy Fender Epi-peel, $80.00
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    Tammy Fender Epi-peel, $80.00

    Tammy Fender’s Epi-peel is like a facial in a jar for all skin types. An alluring blend of pure Moroccan rosemary, far west native spearmint and purifying clay are the active constituents in this advanced tri-purpose micro-exfoliating mask and peel. Gently and efficiently, this revitalizing and oxygenating formula removes the accumulation of dead surface cells, refines the pores and eliminates impurities, as it brightens and polishes the skin.

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  5. Somme Institute Boost Warming Mask, $40.00
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    Somme Institute Boost Warming Mask, $40.00

    Somme’s Institute Boost Mask will warm right up to your skin, literally. This hardworking treatment will clear and refine pores, invigorating your complexion with a specialized blend of minerals, enzymes and vitamins.

    The warming action increases blood circulation which supports and nourishes healthy skin cells, while preparing the skin to receive the benefits of MDT5 technology. Enzymes are the only thing that biologically feed the skin; this mask uses pumpkin enzymes to smooth without harsh abrasives.

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Remember to check our blog regularly as we update our Beauty Glossary with the beauty terms you need to know about.

Veebs Sabharwal

Veebs Sabharwal

Beauty Specialist

I’m a fan of cult beauty products and adore fragrances with oriental or gourmand notes! My favorite make-up look is lashings of mascara and a hint of sparkle on the eyes, the apples, or the lips. Skin care tip: buy multiple hand creams and keep one in your bathroom, one on your desk and one in your handbag!

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