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Yellow Clay: What are its properties for the skin?

Also known as yellow illite, yellow clay is a sedimentary rock. This ingredient has several interesting properties in cosmetics that make it a part of the formulation of many skincare products: masks, soaps, gels, creams... Let's explore together the properties of yellow clay for the skin.

What is yellow clay?

Yellow clay is an aluminum silicate known for its mineral richness. There are several types of clay, such as yellow, green, white, or pink clay. Besides their different colors, they are distinguished from each other by their composition. Yellow clay is primarily composed of silica but also contains aluminum, iron, magnesium, and calcium.

The use of clay dates back to antiquity. Primarily used in pottery, it also held its place in the therapeutic, cosmetic, and agricultural fields, where it was notably used to repel certain vine parasites. It also possesses interesting properties for the skin and can be used by people with sensitive skin. Moreover, yellow clay is highly appreciated by those with combination to oily or mature skin.

Yellow clay has a "purifying" effect.

Yellow clay is an ingredient with absorbent and adsorbent capabilities that enable it to combat excess sebum. It thus helps to unclog the skin's pores and "purify" it from certain microorganisms. Yellow clay works by absorbing excess sebum produced by the sebaceous glands, like a sponge, which can potentially lead to the emergence of skin imperfections (absorption).

Furthermore, its ionic composition and crystalline structure make it negatively charged on the inside and positively charged on the surface. This charge difference allows it to attract and bind to its surface (adsorption) certain bacteria such as Cutibacterium acnes, which is responsible for acne. Therefore, the application of a skincare product enriched with yellow clay helps to cleanse the skin and make it less oily.

The yellow clay for its healing properties.

If yellow clay is so well integrated into both cosmetic and therapeutic care, it's due to its healing effects on minor wounds. Indeed, this ingredient contributes to theepithelialization of tissues and accelerates this process. It works by stimulating the synthesis of collagen and elastin fibers. This is due to the presence of copper in the composition of yellow clay. This metal ensures the proper functioning of lysyl oxidase, an enzyme that catalyzes the formation of aldehydes from lysines. The aldehydes produced during this reaction are reactive and assemble together, which causes the cross-linking of collagen and elastin fibers, a process essential for their stabilization.

Yellow clay is an antioxidant.

Yellow clay is often regarded as an ingredient capable of preventing skin sagging, due to its antioxidant properties. These effects are derived from the metals it contains, particularly iron and copper. These are indeed necessary for the activity of superoxide dismutase enzymes (SOD). SODs are metalloproteins that catalyze the degradation of certain free radicals. These molecules are reactive species that damage cells and tissues and promote skin aging. However, for SODs to be functional, they require metallic cofactors, such as copper and iron. Yellow clay thus helps to neutralize free radicals before they weaken the structure of the extracellular matrix and thereby prevents the appearance of wrinkles.

Yellow clay, a solution against wrinkles?

There are reasons to believe that yellow clay helps to reduce established wrinkles as this ingredient promotes the synthesis of elastin and collagen by fibroblasts, according to the mechanism previously described involving lysyl oxidase. However, no scientific study has yet highlighted the firming property of yellow clay, so caution is advised.

The Radiance Mask with Yellow Clay from Typology.

Affecting all skin types, dullness is often exacerbated by lack of sleep, pollution, or a deficient diet. However, this dull effect can be mitigated by incorporating antioxidants into skincare treatments.

Our antioxidant mask with yellow clay (INCI: Kaolin), turmeric (INCI: Curcuma Longa Root Extract), and lemon verbena floral water (INCI: Lippia Citriodora Leaf Water) is an essential ally for restoring the radiance of your complexion. The synergy of these ingredients revitalizes the epidermis and protects it from the effects of oxidative stress, by neutralizing free radicals.


  • CARRETERO M. Clay minerals and their beneficial effects upon human health: a review. Applied Clay Science (2002).

  • Thèse de François HERNOT. L’argile, son utilisation à l’officine (2016).

  • FRERICH B. & al. Silicon-dioxide-polyvinylpyrrolidone as a wound dressing for skin defects in a murine model. Journal of Cranio-Maxillo-Facial Durgery (2017).


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