Clay Cleansers

Clay-containing cleanser or clay mask used as cleanser. One of the product actually contains calamine (a mixture of zinc oxide, ferric oxide, and other minerals -- not technically clay), but

I use it as a second cleanse after balm/oil cleanser and as a quick cleanse in the morning when I want to get rid of gunks that build up overnight,.

Although my skin is dry, it is a bit prone to inflammation. I found clay and calamine help calm things a bit, albeit temporarily. Also, I need a type of cleanser that is not balm/oily base, that rinses off easy, but without stripping my skin further. Clay cleanser/mask seems to fit the bill.

Which ones?

LUSH Aquamarina ($58/lbs - about $3.62/oz)

I never actually use any LUSH's skincare until this one. I feel the whole idea of freshness + parabens-laced products is just a bit oxymoron. But, Aquamarina came highly recommended by a personal friend, so I have to check it out. It looks like a big soft roll of sushi, wrapped in nori (hopefully unseasoned nori). You suppose to pinch a pea-size worth of product and mix it with a little bit of water on your palm to make a spreadable paste (see Lush's own video here). Easier said than done. The concoction is a sticky wicket, and it takes a while to mix it into a paste without some lumpiness. Plus, all the seaweed disintegrate and gets everywhere, including the hairline, under the jaw, etc. (did I also tell you that the seaweed is not just the outer wrapping, but also mixed in inside the paste?). Considered yourself warned.

Ingredients: Glycerine , Calamine Powder , Kaolin , Irish Moss Infusion (Chondrus crispus) , Aloe Vera Gel (Aloe barbadensis) , Sea Salt (Sodium Chloride) , Nori Seaweed (Fucus vesiculosus), Sweet Orange Oil (Citrus dulcis) , Patchouli Oil (Pogostemon cablin), Carrageenan , Perfume

Pros: you can buy a little at a time, so that minimizes the chance of product going unused. It rinses well (apart from the seaweed). Although it contains sea salt, it feels only mildly drying. 

Cons: It is not the most sanitary product, it gets man-handled so many ways by customers and shop keepers alike. I saw some high-schoolers poking and prodding the log in the store. If you don't like typical LUSH scents (i.e. lots of Patchouli) good luck with this one as this is heavily patchouli-scented, and it lingeeerrrrrsss. Perfume + sensitive skin rarely mix together so the idea of calming the skin is by using products laced heavily with perfume is yet another oxymoron. 

Sure enough, a few welts emerged right after I rinsed it off the first try around. I guess all the calamine in this cleanser did not even help with that. It's not cheap either, so I suggest you ask for a small sample if you are interested.

REN Clearcalm 3 Clarifying Clay Cleanser ($32/5.1 fl oz - $6.27/oz)

I'm normally super cheapo when it comes to cleanser. I don't believe in spending lots of $$ on something that will be rinsed off in a few minutes. This one is definitely the most I've spent on a cleanser. Again, comes highly recommended, so I just had to try this out. The ingredient list is quite interesting: a mixture of kaolin clay, oils and thickener, suspended in water. This one inspires me to make a DIY at home (minus the bulk-former/emollients such as cetearyls and triglycerides).

Ingredients: Anthemis Nobilis (Chamomile) Flower Water, Kaolin, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Cetearyl Alcohol, Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Oil, Cetearyl Glucoside, Glycerin, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Salix Nigra (Willow) Bark Extract, Benzyl Alcohol, Oryzanol, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Oil, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Leptospermum Scoparium Oil, Anthemis Nobilis (Chamomile) Flower Oil, Linalool, Limonene, Zinc Gluconate, Bisabolol, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Dehydroacetic Acid, Crataegus Oxyacantha Stem Extract, Glucose, Xanthan Gum, Lactic Acid, Tocopherol.

Pros: love the pump bottle: super hygienic, least amount of wastage, and efficiently pump just the right amount of product (one pump is enough for face & neck, and I use half-pump for face & neck in the morning). The product spreads quite nicely with just damp hand and face. I use a flannel/washcloth to wipe off the products before rinsing it thoroughly with water. My face is left fresh and not stripped at all.

Cons: contains benzyl alcohol (a solvent), but I didn't feel the product all that drying. It also contains perfume but not to the same potency as LUSH product above. Expensive -- although I love it, I'm really not sure if I'd shell out this much again.

Boots Botanics Conditioning Clay Mask ($9.39/4.2 oz - $2.23/oz)

The dark horse of the bunch (pardon the pun), I got this on sale for $6 during Black Friday sale. The most liquid of the trio, this mud needs to be shaken well before poured onto your palm. It has the grittiest texture among the three, so it can be mildly exfoliating as well (think about super fine grains of sands rub against your skin). Boots skin care products have slowly grown on me, I really think they hit the nail with the simplicity of the ingredients and the products actually deliver.

Ingredients: Natural oceanic clay, Aqua (Water), Glycerin, Butylene glycol, Arctium lappa (Burdock Root Extract), Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate.

Pros: It does the job well both as cleanser and as mask. My skin feels fresh and not stripped. No fragrance, no irritation whatsoever. In case you notice, the tube in the above picture is full because this is my second one already. I love it that much!

Cons: The texture is really thin, it is not the most user-friendly "cleanser." It is really meant to be mask that gets smeared on your face with a fan brush or such contraptions. I use about a quarter-size dollop to cover the whole face and neck and while smearing, I keep adding drops of water on my hands to help spread the products before it dries. The dark greenish-grey color temporarily will stain your flannel/washcloth temporarily and can become a slight annoyance. All in all, these are little inconveniences that are easily eclipsed by the benefit and the price!
(Note to self: for DIY cleanser, can easily mix this with triglycerides/cetearyl alcohol to turn it into similar consistency as the REN's).

THM: I'd certainly repurchase the Boots No.7 (at less than $10, why not?), and maybe the REN but definitely trash the LUSH.

Have you tried any clay cleansers? Any other clay cleanser that I should try?


  1. Excellent review and comparisons!!!! UGH that lush sushi seaweed thingy sounds kinda yuck. Especially the part about seeing people poke and prod the log in the store. That boots one sounds really good, even though the consistency is really thin. Reminds me of the fresh clay mask/cleanser thing I tried. Anyway...like that it has minimal ingredients and the price is very nice :-)

    1. Actually, upon further inspection, Boots smells a bit like the sea (in a good way), whereas I think they put lots of scent on LUSH's because seaweed tends to stink a bit esp when damp.

  2. I feel you on a lot of Lush products - they're neither 100% natural nor good for sensitive skin, so I skip their skincare altogether (though I do really like their bubble bars and massage bars!). I have and currently use the REN cleanser and like it very much, and thanks for recommending the Boots clay mask - I'll have to give this one a go once I'm done with the Origins charcoal one. For more clay cleansers but with foamier texture, you could try Osmia's Black Clay, there are also other soaps (like the Middle Eastern Aleppo) that often have some clay/mud mixed in. BTW, you should totally do a DIY post on your own clay cleanser! Pretty please?

    1. Yes, I remember you mentioned Osmia on one of your blog post, I'll have to look into that. I'll post a DIY recipe when I finally find a time to make one, I love DIY skincare, definitely a bit of a side hobby, but takes up a lot of time (much like cooking & finding the right recipe).