Kaolin, What it is and How You Can Benefit from this Versatile Ingredient


White clay, Kaolinite, China clay, French Green clay—this ingredient has such a long history of use in so many different industries that it has a whole slew of common names.

What is Kaolin?

The main component of kaolin, as we call it, is the mineral kaolinite. It is mined all over the planet from China to Europe to the US. Pure kaolinite is bright white, though kaolin clay often has other minerals present that add slight coloration to the clay, most often it has a pinkish hue from iron oxide or a greenish color from decomposing plant material.

In general, the brighter white the kaolin clay, the better quality it is considered.

A versatile clay

Because of its abundance as a mineral all over the world and it's beautiful bright quality, kaolin is thought to have been used as one of the first clays used to make pottery by our ancestors. The other historical uses of this clay involve health and beauty.

In fact, kaolin clay has proven itself to be useful for every part of our evolution. We still use it in pottery, health, and beauty but it’s even found its way into the paper industry. A thin layer is often brushed on as a final coating for paper to give it a smooth texture and bright white color.

Internal uses of kaolin

Kaolin has been used internally to help with the digestive system. Because the clay doesn’t breakdown and isn’t absorbed into the body, it’s very useful in issues like ulcers, sores, and swelling because it coats the inside of the whole digestive tract.

The digestive tract has natural acids and bacterias that can exacerbate these types of issues and the kaolin coating helps protect the epithelial lining and allows the body space to heal itself.

how to use kaolin internally

Although it is considered safe to consume, this ingredient is all about the dosage. The clay is absorbent so it’s helpful with issues like diarrhea and has the potential to improve conditions like IBS and leaky gut. Pharmaceutical companies even use it in their medications to make the chemical constituents easier on the stomach and to control absorption rates.

On the flip side, eating too much kaolin can cause constipation and long term internal use can make it difficult for the body to absorb certain nonessential minerals (minerals that we have to consume) from food because of how well it coats the lining of the digestive system.

People exposed to the powder in large quantities long term, like mine workers, can develop lung issues because the powder can get into the air and get stuck in the lungs when it’s breathed in.

External uses of kaolin

While kaolin may be a popular ingredient right now, its an ancient beauty tradition that's truly been around for hundreds of years. Since then, it has been used in cleansers, shampoos, toothpastes, and beauty products abound; we use it in our Kaolin Micro Exfoliant. Here are just some of the benefits:

Cleanses and detoxifies

Kaolin gently cleanses and pulls impurities from the pores without causing redness.

Helps with oily skin

Kaolin is absorbent so it absorbs excess oils and it can help balance the oil production when it’s used over time.


Because it doesn’t completely dissolve in water and makes a really nice paste, the crystals in the clay make a really great exfoliant.


Kaolin is stimulating to the skin and with long term use, can offer a toned and tightened appearance.


Kaolin is a really gentle clay that can be used with any skin type, including those people with sensitivities to scrubs and cleansers.

Do you use Kaolin? Let us know how in the comments.

Aspen. “10 Beauty Benefits of Kaolin Clay for Skin, Hair and More.” Beautymunsta. N.p., 20 Dec. 2016. Web. 10 Apr. 2017.
Charl. “What is Kaolin Clay? Benefits, Powder, Skin, Side Effects, Properties of China /White Clay.” DurableHealth. N.p., 19 May 2016. Web. 10 Apr. 2017.
“KAOLIN: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions and Warnings.” WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2017.
“Minerals.net.” Kaolinite: The clay mineral kaolinite information and pictures. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2017.

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Reader Interactions


  1. Jenny says

    Thank you for such an informative article! Kaolin is also used in organic agriculture in orchard crops like pears and apples and vegetable crops like cucumbers and squash. A fine layer of the clay is sprayed on leaves leaving a white film that acts as a natural, harmless protectant from insect pressure and sun scald in hotter months.

  2. Maria says

    As a child I had the mumps & Kaolin Clay was helpful, it was made into a paste looking like chewing gum, spread on a strip of muslin or cotton sheet, which was folded up then held over steam until warm. This was wrapped around your swollen face and neck with a thick scarf over the top.

    • Annmarie Skin Care says

      Both are very mineral rich & achieve similar results. Kaolin clay is not as oil-absorbing as French Green Clay which makes it ideal for drier skin types 🙂 Hope this helps!

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