Kaolin Clay

Kaolin Clay Skin Benefits, Powder,Side Effects & Properties

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Kaolin clay is versatile clay with unique chemical and physical properties that contribute to its skin health benefits as well as side effects. Is Kaolin clay powder good for skin? Read on learn more about what is kaolin clay, its skin and other health benefits, physical and chemical properties as well as side effects.

What is Kaolin Clay?


Kaolin Clay

It is a naturally  occurring clay substance mostly found in soils that have developed from the chemical weathering of rocks in hot, moist climates. A good example of such a climate is the tropical rain forest. It is also called China clay, White clay, White Cosmetic clay, Hydrated Aluminum Silicate, Kaolinite clay amongst other names.

Kaolin Clay Skin Benefits

What are the health skin benefits of kaolin clay? What is China Clay good for? The external use of this kaolin has a long history and it beneficial as you will learn shortly.Some of the benefits of using this clay are mainly based on its rich history in personal use. Not sufficient clinical data exists to support its effects on health. Following are the benefits of kaolin clay for skin

Kaolin is used to Clean and Care for Skin

Kaolin clay has been traditionally used  in caring, nourishing, and soothing different skin types. Currently, kaolin is one of the major active ingredients in most of the facial and skin products, body powders, deodorants, scrubs, and poultices [Awwad, 2011]. It can be used alone or in combination of other products.

The clay can be effectively used to care for wet and oily skin. It is applied on the skin as a dusting powder or in a wet dressing and left for sometimes until dry then washed out. Kaolin clay works by reducing the production of sebum. This makes the oily skin to remains smooth and dry.

Kaolin Helps in Detoxifying the Skin

According to W.N Logan (2009), Indiana Division of Geology,  Kaolin clay is used as skin detoxifying and cleansing agent. The clay contains high content of silica that helps in removing the dead skin and makes it to regenerate. This also purifies and detoxes the skin and makes it moist. In addition, it has unique minerals and phyto-nutrients present, which helps in eliminating toxin and oil from the skin.

To detoxify and clean the skin, kaolin clay is used as facial masks and body wraps, where thin layer is applied on the face or on the body and left to stay intact for averagely 20-30 minutes. When it is washed out, the skin, remain with remarkable regenerative properties.

Kaolin Clay can Treat Various Skin Conditions

Kaolin clay can be used to treat and heal various skin conditions. For instance, in the gastrointestinal tract, kaolin clay has been effectively used to treat and heal soreness and some swellings in the oral mucosa (mouth) that result from radiation treatments (Barker, et al. 2007).

In combination with other products, kaolin clay can also be used to treat some ulcers or inflammations of the larger intestine, such as ulcerative colitis. This is because kaolin clay provides a protective coating to the epithelia of the gastrointestinal tract, hence preventing damage cause by radiation drugs or the irritant hydrochloric acid that causes ulcers and inflammation.

China clay can be used as a topical emolument to treat some skin conditions, such as soreness of the muscles, aches, and pain, inflammations, small and moderate cuts, bruises, boils cold sores, insect bites, and zosters. According to Berker, this is because kaolin clay enhances blood circulation to the skin. Kaolin is mild hence very efficient in improving circulations of the blood to the skin, which facilitate healing of the skin conditions.

Kaolin Clay Powder for Skin

Kaolin also comes in form of powder. Kaolin powder is mostly used to soften or make your skin dry. Simply take a teaspoon of the clay powder then mix it your lotion then apply the mixture on your body and hands. To spice it up with more benefits add a few drops of essential oils. Many users agree with the fact that it makes your skin soft. Have you tried kaolin clay powder? Give it a try today to understand its effect.

Other Kaolin Clay Medicinal Health Benefits

China clay is also has medicinal health benefits. It is not only good for skin but also other conditions. Here are a few medicinal health benefits of kaolin

  • Kaolinite clay can be used to treat various kinds of diarrhea-Kaolin clay has been conventionally used to treat mild-to-moderate diarrhea. In some cases, it is used to treat severe diarrhea, such as dysentery and cholera. It works mainly by adsorbing substances from the gastrointestinal tract.
  • White clay can be used to manage spontaneous pneumothorax –Kaolin has been considered effective in the treatment of spontaneous pneumothorax. This is because the small crystals of kaolin act as an abrasion particularly on the pleura endothelial lining. This makes it produce pleurodesis, which successfully prevent recurrence of pneumothorax or pleural effusion.
  • It is used as a food additive
  • It is also used to relief soreness and swelling in the mouth.

Kaolin Physical & Chemical Properties

In this section let us look at the chemical and physical properties of the white or China clay

Physical Properties of Kaolin Clay

China clay is often white in color, especially in its pure natural state. However, the color may vary when it occurs in combination with other elements. For instance, kaolin clay appears pink-orange in combination with iron oxide, and yellow or light orange when in combination with aluminum silicate (feldspar). Sometimes, white clay may appear brown when mixed with sand. See more kaolin clay varieties basing on colors.

White clay occurs in crystal forms of varying sizes. The crystals of kaolinite as seen under electron microscope are hexagonal in shape arranged in platy layers. Kaolin clay is soft powder and earthy in texture. It has low capacity to shrink and swell, which means that it has low extent of expanding when wet and low capabilities of contracting when dry.

Chemical Properties of Kaolin Clay

Kaolin clay is inert (dose not react with other elements) at widely varying pH and temperature and it often exists in nature as a free element.

Its chemical name is hydrous aluminum phyllosilicate (Al2Si2O5 (OH) 4

Kaolin clay hardly dissolves in water, but form slurry suspension. Kaolin clay has very low cation-exchange aptitude (approximately between 1 and 15 mEq/100g). This implies that it can only hold very minimal quantity of any class of cations at any given pH value. Therefore, it is very less reactive. However, it may transform under extreme temperatures above 500oC.

Side Effects of Kaolin clay

Is Kaolin safe? Does using this clay have adverse effects on our health? What are the side effects or cons eating kaolin or using this clay as mask or in other skincare products? Read on to find out.

  • Kaolin clay has few side effects and limited severe toxicities. This is mainly because it is not absorbed systematically. However, according to studies, kaolin clay may cause lung (pulmonary) problems, such as pneumoconiosis  in cases of prolonged exposure such as occupational contact. This indicated by reduced Forced Expiratory Volume in one second (FEV1) and Forced Vital Capacity (FVC) due to destruction of the airway, such as in restrictive lung disease. .
  • Kaolin pectin may reduce the absorption especially those that chelate with aluminum salt such as digoxin, lincomycin, and clindamycin. Again, it may also reduce the absorption of quinidine, trimethoprim.
  • Kaolin clay is also remarkably safe in pregnancy. However, there may be consequences for the unborn child for instance;it is sometimes associated with low birth weight when consumed regularly during pregnancy.
  • For those who eat China clay caution should be taken because prolonged usage may lead to Low blood-hemoglobin level, a sign of anemia. Ingesting the white clay inhibits absorption of iron from foods.
  • Many of the women who eat kaolin-specific pica complain of constipation: some even suffer ruptured colons.
  • Chalk –eaters (those who eat kaolin clay) at the expense of healthier foods often develop malnutrition.
  • Some kaolin varieties such the Red kaolin are known to possess strong drawing power should be used minimally avoid adverse effects

Kaolin clay is a clay mineral with numerous benefits as well side effects. Its chemical and physical properties explain how this clay is lets us understand its deep features.It has medicinal and health benefits such as caring for dry skin, treatment of various skin conditions, and detoxifying skin. It is also used to treat different kinds of diarrhea. Its uses are based on its inertness (inability or low capabilities of reacting with other elements). Kaolin clay is also very less toxic even in human, since it is not well absorbed into the body systems. However, there should be more human and clinical studies to substantiate and back up the beneficial uses of Kaolin especially on humans.

Suggested Further Reading

More on Clay

Rhassoul (Red Morrocan, Ghassoul) Clay

Bentonite Clay

Aztec Healing Clay

Montmorillonite Clay

Multani Mitti (Fuller’s Earth) Clay


Awwad, A. (2011). Nano-Structured Kaolin clay and Its Industrial Applications. New York: VDM Publishing.

Barker, J., Holaschke, M., Fulton, A., Evans, K. A, & Powell, G. (2007).  Effects of kaolin particle film on Myzus persicae (Hemiptera: Aphididae) behaviour and performance. Bull Entomol Res, 97(5), 455-460.

Indiana Division of Geology- Newton Logan  (2009). Kaolin of Indiana.  Bilbao Bazaar


  1. mark

    August 10, 2015 at 8:36 am

    Hi there, my name is mark and I was wondering if you could possibly help me with a question I have regarding Kaolin clay? I just wanted to ask if you think it is safe to use as part of a homemade toothpaste recipe if I have dental fillings? (mercury or amalgam) I have read that Bentonite clay is not recommended as it draws mercury out of fillings, so I just wondered if you knew if Kaolin clay did similar or was safe to use?

    • Charl

      August 11, 2015 at 3:19 am

      Hi Mark.Thanks for visiting DurableHealth.That was a good question. Unfortunately as per now, there is not enough information, in terms of research, studies or user experiences, to affirm that kaolin clay is SAFE or NOT SAFE with mercury or amalgam fillings. However, what is known is that kaolin clay is non-abrasive and chemically inert (nonreactive). And most clays, including kaolin, work by absorbing and adsorbing…but it could be a good idea if you consult a holistic dentist if you really want to try it.

  2. Phio

    November 9, 2015 at 11:56 pm

    I’m made because the people who made regular Kaopectate were bought by another company and replaced the clay with that nasty flavored pink junk.
    Why should I buy it now and pay their price when it’s no better that the grocery store product sold for $1.00.

    I just don’t care for faked flavors is another reason.

  3. NANCY

    March 17, 2016 at 1:44 pm

    Please what are the quantities of calcium and other nutrients found in kaolin clay?
    Can mere eating of clay cure fibroids or prevent ageing?
    Thank you.

    • Charl

      March 18, 2016 at 2:04 pm

      Hi Nancy, thank you for visiting DurableHealth. Kaolin or China clay is mainly made up of kaolinite (hydrated aluminium silicate crystalline mineral) Can eating clay cure fibroids? The causes of this condition is not fully known. It is said that fibroids are under control of hormonal changes but still studies are underway to find out more.
      No scientific evidence exists to support the idea that eating clay can cure fibroid or prevent ageing. In fact some individuals claim that clay may cause fibroid. On the other hand, some claim that the same clay can cure the condition. The information is anecdotal in nature. That is, it is based on
      hearsay therefore not necessarily true or reliable.

  4. Colleen

    March 22, 2016 at 4:43 am

    Hi Charl,
    I have very dry, flaky itchy skin. I believe it is Melasma on the face only (around nose, upper lip and forehead. Is this clay good for very dry skin?

    • Charl

      March 23, 2016 at 2:21 am

      Hi Colleen. Thanks for visiting DurableHealth. Some varieties such as the Red kaolin have strong drawing power thus not good for dry skin. If you must use this clay, use it minimally with a moisturizer. Avoid ingredients that may further dry your skin.

  5. Kimberly Carey

    March 31, 2016 at 12:14 pm

    hello I have a questioned about using Kaolin Clay? I am a esthetician and I was reading about Kaolin Clay and it says it could be dangerous if you breath it in. I have lung issues from using the chemical DHA in tanning sprays. I had inhaled to much and I got it all in my lungs and now I have lung issues. Would you say it would be dangerous for me to use kaolin clay mask on a client?

    Thank you

    • Charl

      March 31, 2016 at 6:25 pm

      Hi Kimberly, Thanks for your insightful question. It is possibly dangerous especially if it is in form of dust. It also depends on the duration of exposure. A study of kaolin clay miners at Georgia established some workers who had more than 5 years of exposure had radiographic evidence of kaolin pneumoconiosis. The workers in question spent majority of their time in the processing area of the mine where exposure to kaolin dust was the highest. It all depends on how use and the duration.

  6. kimberley

    April 7, 2016 at 1:47 am

    just read this article. Thank you so much for posting. I’m interested in using Kaolin Clay as a base for making a baby powder. Is it safe for babies, in terms of it being sensitive enough and everything else? Are the risks still high for contracting lung problems for the babies?

    • Charl

      April 12, 2016 at 5:37 pm

      Hello Kimberly, thanks for your question. In terms of using it for the skin, Kaolin Clay is thought to be safe because it is the mildest of all clays. There are a couple of baby powders that use it as a base. In terms of risks of contracting lung problems, there isn’t enough information/evidence to support or oppose this idea. All that is known is that this clay may cause lung problems in cases of prolonged exposure especially in adults not babies.

  7. Geraldine Montes

    May 14, 2016 at 3:02 am

    I want to use kaolin clay in soap making, is it safe to use if use regularly as soap

    • Charl

      May 16, 2016 at 3:03 am

      Hi Geraldine,it is safe. Kaolin has few side effects and limited severe toxicities.

  8. Amandine

    May 19, 2016 at 2:08 pm


    Could you tell me what INGNL means in “According to INGNL 2009” ? I am looking for an article about kaolin… thank you !

    • Charl

      May 19, 2016 at 6:46 pm

      Hi Amandine, thank you for your contribution. IDG for Indiana Division of Geology- Newton Logan (2009). Kaolin of Indiana.That was a typo. See the references. Thanks a lot for noticing it.

  9. Jyoti

    June 23, 2016 at 4:55 am

    Respected Sir
    I want to buy Kaolin clay. From where I can get it?

    • Charl

      June 25, 2016 at 5:10 pm

      Hello Jyoti, it depends on what you want to buy it for. For skincare purposes, find it on Amazon.

  10. Peggy

    September 16, 2016 at 4:27 pm

    Is hydrated aluminium silicate crystalline mineral the same aluminium that has an association with Alzheimers disease?

    • Charl

      September 17, 2016 at 5:13 pm

      Hi Reggy, yes it is the same mineral. It was thought to have an association with alzheimer’s disease but studies that have been conducted do not show any connection.

  11. rubi

    December 8, 2016 at 5:04 am

    Hello.. . In case of eczema…china clay is helpful? I have dark black mark on my leg caused due to eczema.

  12. Yasmin

    December 11, 2016 at 7:43 pm

    I have researched enough about kaolin clay and it looks like a good remedy for oily skin.
    So, do I use it regularly or weekly for a face cleansing product?

    • Charl

      March 3, 2017 at 12:05 pm

      Hello Yasmin, for a normal skin, use it once in a week and an oily skin apply thrice a week.

  13. Cornish Dowser

    January 11, 2017 at 12:11 pm

    Hi, I am intending to use this powder to treat occasional diarrhea in my dogs as it has become increasingly difficult to obtain kaolin suspension. Please would you advise about the ration of kaolin powder to water for this use. Thank you for your help.

    • Charl

      March 3, 2017 at 8:03 am

      Hi Cornish, Try Amazon

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