Time to Dish the Dirt About Clay In Skin Care

Time to Dish the Dirt About Clay In Skin Care

Nothing feels quite as relaxing as applying our Vitamin B3 Balancing Masque at night, especially when you’re dealing with a fresh breakout or your skin feels extra heavy. As the clay hardens and tightens on your skin, you know it’s really, truly, definitely working. But is it really doing that much for your skin? If so, how do clay masks work? Clay has legitimate benefits, especially for certain skin types. Let’s discuss how they work—and what they might do to improve your skin in the long run.

Clay is popular in skin care products due to the fact that it is so effective at clearing out our skin. You can catch red kaolin in our Active Clay Cleanser as well as kaolin (white) and Canadian glacial clay in our Vitamin B3 Balancing Masque. Red and white kaolins differ only by their mineral content as both are in the kalonite families and have similar crystal structure and particle size. They are also non-swelling clays and work chiefly by adsorption of oil. Canadian glacial clay (oceanic, marine or not) is a special clay that is only formed on the west coast of British Columbia. These fine sediments are located underneath live glaciers and through erosion, the fine sediment is washed down along with glacial runoff. Vast deposits of these clays are formed within remote tributaries along coastal BC, and this is where they are sustainably harvested. What makes this clay extra special is it remains submerged for a majority of its time within tidal pools. This daily renewal of water from the Pacific ocean enhances this clay with marine nutrients and phytoplankton to supercharge the clay, not to mention the unique profile of trace elements that help to set it in a class all of its own.[1]

Most clay actives work along the same principles – it helps to detoxify the skin and draw out impurities and oils from the surface.[2] Clays can be dehydrating due to the pulling out of essential oils, so be sure to use a product like the Vitamin B3 Balancing Masque that delivers added hydration with such ingredients as colloidal oatmeal. Clays also tend be to very rich in minerals, like kaolin for example, which is predominantly a mixture of silicon oxide (SiO2– 45.44%) and aluminum oxide (Al2O3 38.52%), plus trace oxides of magnesium, potassium and calcium to name a few.[3] This diverse profile of minerals has several benefits to other skin types too. Silica for one, has a whole slough of beneficial effects for the skin.

Once you activate your Vitamin B3 Balancing Masque with water, beneficial positively charged minerals are made into an amazing mineral paste that are ready to get to work. Water fills voids within the atomic structure of the clays allowing them to swell up. Electrically charged clumps of water are attracted to the positive and negative charges built up within the clay. This electrostatic attraction is what facilitates the ion exchange that occurs within the clay mask and adsorbs any impurities found on the skin, such as bacteria, viruses, heavy metals etc.[4] As the masque dries on the face, the negatively charged impurities are locked away and exchanged with positively charged minerals that become deposited upon the skin’s surface. Since the masque also contains many supportive actives like allantoin, colloidal oatmeal and niacinamide – those actives are going to sit on the face for a time and really have a chance to penetrate deep within the skin’s surface and perform their magic. And once rinsed away, you are left with clarified and fresh skin, a feeling like no other! 

Now you can see why clays are so popular, because they are so effective at what they do! I hope after reading this article you too will see the need to add an essential clay based cleanser or balancing masque to your regime.

By Jamie Stanton, @Jamie_the_Chemist


[1] – “Earth’s Finest Organic Clay.” Glacial Bay Organic Clay, 29 June 2021, glacialorganicclay.com/. 

[2] – “How Do Clay Masks Work? We Asked an Expert.” Dermstore, 10 Oct. 2019, www.dermstore.com/blog/how-do-clay-masks-work/

[3] – “Final Report on the Safety Assessment of Aluminum Silicate, Calcium Silicate, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Magnesium Silicate, Magnesium Trisilicate, Sodium Magnesium Silicate, Zirconium Silicate, Attapulgite, Bentonite, Fuller’s Earth, Hectorite, Kaolin, Lithium Magnesium Silicate, Lithium Magnesium Sodium Silicate, Montmorillonite, Pyrophyllite, and Zeolite.” International Journal of Toxicology, vol. 22, no. 1, 2003, pp. 37–102., doi:10.1080/747398367. 

[4] – “Canadian Glacial Oceanic Clay: Canadianglacial.com: Canada.” CGCCC, www.canadianglacial.com/.