Natural therapy for Skin: Clay

Natural therapy for Skin: Clay

by: Gretchen Schempp, Wellness Buyer

Used to cleanse, detoxify and exfoliate skin, clays are rich in silica, calcium, iron, magnesium and other trace minerals that detoxify the skin and draw out impurities.  There are many clays out there with many uses.  Today I am going to tell you about the three that we handle at the Co-op.


Bentonite, also known as montmorillonite,  is pale grey and comes from volcanic ash.  Most natural deposits of pure sodium bentonite are in the western United States, primarily Wyoming, Montana, California and South Dakota.  Bentonite is considered one of the most powerful healing clays because of its swelling and absorption properties.  When water is added to bentonite it produces an electric charge.  The clay will swell like a porous sponge and the electric attraction draws out toxins from the skin and binds them to the clay.  Some suggested uses for bentonite clay are as follows:

• Add 2-3 ounces to your bath for a detoxifying soak

• Make an elastic paste with bentonite clay and equal parts warm oil (olive oil is fine) and warm water. Apply to inflamed or injured area on body.  Allow 20-30 minutes and rinse.  This has been said to ease pain from injuries or overuse and ease inflammation.

• Some have used bentonite to ease itching caused by poison ivy, poison oak, eczema, psoriasis and other skin conditions.

• Some organic producers have even used bentonite to treat inflammation in cattle due to foot rot, while many organic dairy producers have used bentonite poultices for mastitis.

French Green

This popular therapeutic clay is mined in China, Wyoming, Montana and southern France.  It is sundried, crushed  into a green powder and dried again to remove remaining water.  The clay’s green color comes from iron oxides and decomposed organic matter, mostly phytonutrient-rich sea kelp and algae.  Its mineral content includes magnesium, calcium, potassium, manganese, phosphorus, zinc, aluminum, silicon, copper, selenium and cobalt which all nourish skin according to aesthetician Evan Healy.

French green clay is best for toning and exfoliating skin as well as pulling out excess oil.    French green clay is said to have analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties which make it beneficial for muscular pain, swelling and arthritic or rheumatic conditons.  Cosmetically, it is revered for its abiltiy to stimulate blood and lymph circulation, remove dead skin cells, absorb impurities and fats and tone and strengthen connective tissues.  Many people have had success treating acne with weekly masks.   It is also fine to use daily on problem spots.   I have used french green clay masks on my face in the sinus area, under and above the eyes, to ease sinus congestion and pain.


This clay is only found in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, where it has been used for over 1400 years  as a skin conditioner, soap and shampoo.  This clay was also used in ancient Rome and Egypt by those of nobility.  Rhassoul is a mineral rich reddish brown clay that blends very well with water, making for a smooth mask when applied to the face and skin.  Because of the high mineral content, astringent properties and absorption properties Rhassoul clay is effective for cleansing, detoxification and for general skin care treatments.  In clinical tests it has been shown to be effective on skin elasticity, clogged pores, removing dead skin layers, removing surface oil from the skin, improving skin clarity and appearance and reducing flakiness and dryness of both scalp and skin.

First Aid

Mix dry clay with any combination of the following: water, aloe vera gel or juice, warm oils or flower water.

Stir until a smooth paste is achieved.  Apply directly to cuts, minor burns, stings, bites or rashes.

Facial Masks

Mix a small amount of chosen clay with water until a smooth paste is obtained.  Feel free to get creative and use carrier oils, flower waters for added healing, aloe or  small amounts of essential oils.  Apply a thin layer of the paste to your face and neck.  Leave for 10-15 minutes or until dry.  For more intense detoxification leave longer and spritz with flower waters as mask dries.  Rinse with warm water.  Don’t be alarmed if your skin is red after rinsing the mask.  As clays are highly detoxifying, they increase blood flow to the surface of the skin.  This can be especially true with the French green clay.  To calm the reddness and nourish the skin, spritz with lavender flower water.


Add 2-3 ounces of clay to your bath water and mix thoroughly.  Feel free to add essential oils or other herbal infusions.  Soak and enjoy.

You can find all of these clays in the Wellness department.  We carry bentonite and French green clay in bulk, so you can try as little or as much as you like for great bulk pricing.  Aesthetician and skin care founder Evan Healy makes two lovely healing clays, French Rose Clay with Morrocan Rhassoul and Green Tea Clay, which is a French green clay with green tea.  We also carry Now brand European clay which is montmorillonite (bentonite) clay.  We are also able to special order 1# bags of clay for those wishing to purchase larger amounts.