Dirt is dirt. Which is all well and good, until you decide to rub it all over your face, body, and scalp. That’s when all the little micro differences — the mineral content, porosity, grittiness, organic matter — start to make a macro difference. Our latest obsession? Red clay, a variant that can hail from France, Morocco, and the good ole USA. The ruddy color indicates high levels of iron, which studies have shown carry major skin benefits.
“All clays contain minerals that soothe skin and absorb excess oil, but the high levels of iron oxide in red clay explain why it’s particularly useful for purifying, brightening, and strengthening the skin,” says dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, the director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai in New York City. Cosmetic chemist and founder of Beauty Stat, Ron Robinson, also adds that red clay won’t leave your skin overly taut. Here, our favorite ways to see (and scrub and soak and smear and suds) red.