Active Ingredients: Kaolin

Tiffany Ong Beauty Expert
Active Ingredients: Kaolin

What is Kaolin?

Like everyone, I consider self-care to be a necessary part of my life and I think that masking plays a big role in my self-care routine, and I think that might go for a lot of other people as well. There is just something about waiting for that clay mask to dry out and feeling it tug at your skin, especially when you start making smiley and random faces to see the cracks in the clay. When it comes to clay masks, I can almost guarantee you that almost anyone with oily or congested skin has definitely used or heard about the benefits of clay masks; how they help to detoxify and clarify the skin. But a main issue I feel that many aren’t aware of is the importance of choosing the right clay. So we’re here to introduce you to a type of clay that stands out from the rest = Kaolin.

Similar to all clay ingredients, kaolin is an absorbent ingredient that helps with targeting excess oil, blackheads and shine that results in softer, smoother and mattified skin. Unlike the common bentonite clay, kaolin is said to be milder and gentler, making it more suitable for all skin types. Some even considers kaolin to be the mildest of all clays.

Kaolin originates from a hill in China called “Kaoling” where this clay was first mined and obtained, hence, the name. But, now kaolin can be mined from all over the world, from Europe to the US. Traditionally, kaolin was used to make porcelain and in stomach-treating medicines. Kaolin is sometimes referred to as China clay, white clay, hectorite or magnesium silicate, so next time keep a look for these ingredient names in your products! Kaolin is typically white in colour but can come in different colours; pink or green, depending on the various minerals and plant minerals that are either mixed or originally found in the clay. It is said that the whiter the clay, the purer it is.



Reduces excess sebum

  • Kaolin is a drying agent that helps absorb excess sebum (oil) and even moisture (we’ll talk about this below) from the skin, making it an ideal ingredient for those with oily or combination skin.
  • By absorbing the excess sebum, kaolin ultimately controls and reduces shine and reveals a mattified complexion.

Detoxes the skin

  • Kaolin works amazingly well in drawing out impurities, pollutants, bacteria and buildup deep within the skin. This is why kaolin is generally recommended to those prone to acne as it complements topical acne treatments and can even increase its efficacy.


  • With kaolin drawing out all the impurities and grime that are sitting in the pores, this includes all acne-causing bacteria which can prevent future acne breakouts.

Great exfoliant

  • For those with sensitive or dry skin that can’t tolerate potent chemical and physical exfoliants, kaolin is a great choice as it doesn’t irritate or strip the skin of its natural oils due to its mildness.

Soothes the skin

  • Kaolin is rich in silica and has a neutral pH level which is why kaolin is particularly suitable for those with dry and sensitive skin. Kaolin also possesses mild healing properties that help with calming any type of irritation and redness on the skin.

Improves skin complexion

  • Apart from attracting and drawing out the impurities from the skin, kaolin also dries up black/whiteheads and minimizes the appearance of enlarged pores, leaving the skin feeling smoother, softer and overall more radiant.


What to note?

  • Although kaolin is considered a relatively safe and gentle ingredient, excessive use can be drying to the skin as it still draws out moisture from the skin. So those with dry and sensitive skin should use it at a minimum.
  • It is advised to not use kaolin in conjunction with other drying ingredients, as well as medications like digoxin, quinidine and trimethoprim as kaolin may decrease the rapidity of clindamycin absorption.
  • We recommend using kaolin in conjunction with skin soothing and calming ingredients like chamomile.


Products we recommend 

The INKEY List Kaolin Clay

the inkey list kaolin clay

A favourite in our books, this gentle kaolin clay effectively absorbs excess oils and removes toxins from the surface of the skin. Leaving your skin looking instantly clearer and more even. 

Mamonde Micro Deep Cleansing Foam

mamonde micro deep cleansing foam

A daily facial cleanser that uses the cleansing power of lotus extract and micro-sized kaolin to remove grime and impurities that may be clogging pores and gently cleanse the skin with an extra brightening effect. 

Pixi Glow Mud Cleanser

pixi glow mud mask

This mud mask is enriched with 5% Glycolic Acid, soothing botanicals and kaolin to draw out oil, impurities, fights breakouts while giving the skin an energizing and brightening boost. Perfect for those self-care days!

Mario Badescu Cucumber Tonic Mask

mario badescu cucumber tonic mask

This is Mario Badescu’s strongest purifying mask, formulated to target large and congested pores. It features kaolin, zinc oxide and cucumber extract to effectively tighten and refresh oily skin.

Dear, Klairs Youthful Glow Sugar Mask

dear klairs youthful glow sugar mask

This low pH multifunctional sugar mask is enriched with raspberry extract, kaolin, calamine, vitamin C and shea butter to create a glowing complexion by mildly exfoliating dead skin cells and impurities away without drying the skin.

Mamonde Pore Clean Clay Mask

mamonde pore clean clay mask

A clay mask with a silky texture that features Heartleaf (Eoseongcho), natural mint leaves and walnut shell powder that works to gently remove excess sebum and help minimise the appearance of pores. 


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