Thursday, April 13, 2017

Three Tips on Using Clay in Balms



This past winter has been all about skin-loving balms in my lab.

I've been working on a few melt-and-pour less-is-more formulas to see how minimalistic it is possible to get without sacrificing function (or luxury factor).

This kind of create-the-perfect-synergy 'roots' formulating has become a bit of an obsession. It's both fun and educational all at once, and you can't help but get real up close and personal with every aspect of every ingredient in a formula.

So let's talk about clay!


It can seem a little odd to add clay to an anhydrous product, but there is a purpose.

No, two.

  1. to help cut the greasy feel 
  2. to tint the product with a natural colorant 


My color goal with this balm: a light, baby's-breath barely pink.

Above are the ingredients: 2 butters, oil, e-vitamin and 'rose' clay (a blend of kaolin and red illite).

It took a few batches to learn how much clay is needed to color a balm.

Which brings me to the first tip.

Tip One - Less is Enough

If the clay is purely added as a colorant – use less than you might expect.

See that bowl up there? That portion of clay will give a deep rose – it is about 6 times more than I needed to create a delicate pink.

Need a certain amount of clay overall in your formula and don't want a darkly colored product? Mix your colored clay with kaolin until you have the desired shade.

Tip Two - Don't Panic

If you add clay the moment your butters have melted (and temperature is at its highest), the color will turn much much darker than you expect. Don't panic. The color lightens up again as the product cools.

Trying to create a very specific shade? Make a few small batches and keep copious notes on the amounts of clay you add to each one. Wait until the balm has cooled completely before adjusting the amount of clay.





Tip Three - Take Your Time

For even color throughout, don't pour up too early.

Pictured above: what happens to impatient people who pour into containers too early.

To avoid streaky bits of clay residue settling at the bottom, stir your balm gently until trace. Then pour up.


Do Tell

Have you ever used clay to color any of your products? 

4 comments:

Signe said...

I've been making rosy face cream (the original recipe is from Jan Berry), where I've used little bit of pink clay. That has been nice, both in colour and texture, even if I was scared at first if clay could ever work in facial creams. I did some back round checking before I used clay and found out that even some commercial products have clay in them.

Ola said...

Thanks Lisa. Are you not concerned about the risk of the clay introducing bacteria etc. into the balm.

Lise M Andersen said...

@Signe - Good for you working with clay. I love clay and it has literally never failed me in a formula.

@Ola - bacteria needs water in order to grow and develop. These are anhydrous balms. :)

Signe said...

Ola, when you are making cosmetic products at home, everything can introduce bacteria to the products. That's why you are using preservatives and making small batches which are supposed to be used quite quickly. I've been making them for years now and bacteria growth haven't been a problem so far.