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Which clays are best for skin?

  • 4 min read

Clays have been used in beauty treatments for years and years – our ancestors scooped it out of the ground with their bare hands and discovered it was beneficial! It’s versatile and, as such, is used as the base in a huge number of beauty products. There are lots of different clays though, so here we look at the best clay for skin by skin type. 

Clay occurs naturally and different types of clay are found in different places. All are packed with various different minerals, including calcium and magnesium. They are found in soil, ash and sediment. If you choose sustainably sourced clay, then it is an excellent natural and vegan skincare product.

What are the benefits of clay for skin?


We’ll look at some of the individual benefits of different clays for different skin types shortly. However, overall, clays are favoured in skincare because they are very effective at drawing impurities out of the skin. Clay is naturally detoxifying. It pulls out toxins, bacteria, viruses and fungi, aiding the health of your skin. 

In general, clays have been found to boost collagen production in the skin. Collagen is the building block of our skin which reduces as we age, and so anything we can do to boost it is a good thing.

Clay is a remarkable natural ingredient and we want to keep it that way. Make sure you choose clay-based skincare products that are packaged appropriately and responsibly sourced. Never store clay in metal containers as this impacts its effectiveness. Instead, choose reusable glass containers. 

Best clay for oily skin


Here at UpCircle, we believe that the best clay for oily skin is kaolin. It’s also a great option for all different types and concerns, from acne-prone skin to sensitive skin.

Kaolin clay is rich in silica and naturally has a neutral pH. You may sometimes hear it referred to as china clay or white clay. It’s typically white – although you do sometimes find it with a pinkish hue. It’s incredibly fine and soft in texture making it a real pleasure to apply.

Kaolin clay has multiple benefits: it’s extremely good at drawing out any impurities from the skin. It’s a brilliant natural cleanser, working as a natural exfoliator too. The reason it’s the best clay for oily skin is that it actively absorbs excess oil without affecting your natural oil level.

As we mentioned, kaolin clay is also the best clay for sensitive skin. This is because it is remarkably soothing, helping to calm irritated skin. Many also find that using kaolin clay regularly brings about a more even skin tone. 

We’re such fans of kaolin clay for all skin types that it’s no surprise that we’ve made it one of the stars of the show in our Clarifying Face Mask with Olive Powder

Green clay is also an excellent detoxifying clay for those with acne-prone or overly oily skin. The green colour in it comes from kelp and algae, bringing it natural anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. We use green clay in our Fennel + Cardamom Chai Soap Bar.

Best clay for dry skin


The best clay for those with dry skin, and also another great option for those with sensitive skin, is pink clay. Pink clay is actually a mix of kaolin clay and red clay, although some naturally occurring pink clay is found in France. 

With pink clay, you get all of the benefits of kaolin with an added mineral composition rich in magnesium, zinc and selenium. This makes it particularly good for sensitive and dry skin. These minerals help to lock in moisture whilst also drawing out impurities.

Pink clay, like kaolin, is rich in silica. This makes both types of clay the best clay for mature skin. The silica helps to boost collagen production in the skin, making it more elastic and supple. Skin cell renewal is supported too. Furthermore, pink clay is lightly exfoliating which helps to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, leaving your skin looking and feeling smooth and silky-soft with a gorgeous radiant glow. 

With all these wonderful benefits, is there any wonder why we’ve used pink clay in our Cinnamon + Ginger Chai Soap Bar

What other clay types are there?


Bentonite clay

A commonly mentioned clay that’s used in skincare products is bentonite clay. This type of clay is formed from volcanic ash. It’s found most prolifically in the US. If you’re using a clay-based product which feels very shiny and smooth, or even slippery, it may well be bentonite. 

Bentonite is also very good for absorption, making it ideal for oily skin. Plus, its glide-ability makes it popular in natural shaving soaps.

Brazilian clay

Brazilian clay comes in a range of different shades of red and pink, as well as purple and yellow. The colours reflect the different mineral compositions. Brazilian clay is actually a type of kaolin clay. The individual compositions of Brazilian clay makes it ideal for a range of different skin concerns.

Green zeolite clay

When volcanic rocks and volcanic ash react with alkaline groundwater, zeolite clay is formed. The texture is notably grainier than most other types of clay meaning it’s really great for exfoliation. It’s still a good clay for absorbing excess oil, and most would say this is a good clay option for normal to oily skin. 

Moroccan rhassoul clay or Moroccan red clay

With a name that comes from the Arabic ‘to wash’, it’s easy to guess what this clay is good for! It’s a red-brown clay which is found in a particular valley in the Atlas Mountains. It’s often used for both the hair and the skin. 

This is a clay which is really rich in magnesium and potassium, as well as other minerals. It is a natural detoxifier and many say that this clay is excellent for mature skin as well as those who are acne-prone. We’ve also found it to be a great natural exfoliator. 


Using natural clays in skincare products, as long as they are sourced sustainably, is an excellent way of gaining natural detoxification, cleansing and exfoliation leading to healthier, brighter and more radiant skin. Shop our range of vegan and sustainable skincare to complement your choice of clay.

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