Ingredient focus

Ingredient in Focus: Clay

Which clay is right for my skin type

We’re totally potty about clay (ha), but with its spectrum of colours and myriad metals, finding the ‘right’ one is no easy task; there’s kaolin, bentonite, french green and rose… and these different goops have distinct compositions, so here’s a guide to help locate your skin’s clay-based soulmate.

If your skin’s normal to easily upset…

Look for white or yellow kaolin clay, to coax reluctant grime and stubborn city grit from cosy caves (pores, same thing…); some clays can be drying, but these two will quickly suck out the impurities, without leaving skin feeling overexposed. French rose clay is another mild kaolin – it’s purdy (it’s pink!) – and has exfoliating properties, to brighten things up as it purifies. The {Konjac Sponge with French Pink Clay} helps refine and rejuvenate sensitive skin prone to redness and flare ups (while the sponge removes every last trace of residual make up and dirt). Montmorillonite clay – found in Borghese’s {Fango Mud Brillante} is (sometimes) pink, and incredibly healing; it lures out the bad whilst replenishing moisture, to enhance skin’s resilience, soothe irritation and quickly restore equilibrium. And Aesop’s {Primrose Facial Cleansing Masque} is gentle enough for all skin types – clarifying without dehydrating, to leave stressed skin looking clear and contented.

If your skin’s combination or oily…

Try French green clay – it’s powerfully absorptive, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and circulatory-boosting – to eliminate toxins as it mops up excess oil. MV Organic Skincare’s {Purifying & Balancing Mineral Mask} is pure french green and superfine kaolin clays, brimming with skin-boosting minerals (calcium, magnesium, iron oxide and potassium) to ‘re-set’ skin’s balance and tackle the causes of spots. Alpha-H’s {Balancing & Pore Refining Mask} stars bentonite clay – a sponge for pore-clogging sebum – together with calming aloe vera and normalising jojoba, which makes it brilliant for those who’re prone to breakouts. And Borghese’s {Fango Mud Active} is alarmingly sludge-coloured, but harnesses the grime-attracting properties of bentonite, with the (sk)invigorating benefits of Aqua di Vita (Tuscany’s thermal waters) to refine, revitalise and make skin glow from top to toe.

Expert Tip…

MV Organics founder Sharon McGlinchey wants us to stop getting masks wrong!! Never let a clay mask dry completely on your skin – the drier it gets the more moisture it needs, and your face is the only place to find it. Instead, wait until it’s starting to make the transition – is no longer wet but still tacky – and gently rinse away with tepid water and a muslin.


Verity Douglas

Verity Douglas

Content Editor

Verity is our Content Editor and a Cult Beauty veteran. Currently on maternity leave, raising Cult Beauty’s honorary ‘word nerd’, Tabitha, she speaks fluent ‘beauty’ and loves nothing more than the marriage of language and lip balm (and cleanser and candles… ad infinitum). Nothing can stop her from quoting Nancy Mitford, treating herself to yet another Bella Freud candle for her desk or buying that pilgrim-esque collared or heavily fringed outfit she’s been eyeing. You can trust her to debunk widespread beauty myths and dispense invaluable advice with ease…