Fuller’s earth is a clay-like substance that’s mostly composed of aluminum magnesium silicate. This name comes from its use to remove dirt and oil from wool. A wool refinery worker called a “fuller” would apply it to the wool.
It’s also called Multani mitti, or “mud from Multan,” which comes from the history of mineral-rich clay in that city in Pakistan.
Fuller’s earth uses
Fuller’s earth has had a number of uses over the years, including:
Cosmetics and skin care
Decontamination of clothing and equipment used by servicemen and emergency personnel
Special effects in films
Gut absorbent used to treat poisoning by herbicides and other toxins
Industrial cleaners used to clean marble and absorb gasoline and oil spills
Ingredient in commercial cat litter
Skin decontaminant used by the military to treat exposure to chemical warfare
Fuller’s earth can be found in skincare products, such as facial clays and masks used to fight wrinkles and treat acne. It’s also used in cosmetics to bind other ingredients, to keep other powders from caking together, to provide gentle exfoliating properties, or to otherwise stabilize products.
Fuller’s earth and your skin
Fuller’s earth is known for its ability to absorb oil and other impurities, which can make it an effective skin cleanser for people with oily skin or clogged pores. It’s also said to improve skin tone and complexion and soften the skin.
During World War II, fuller’s earth was mixed with water and applied to feet to reduce inflammation.
Fuller’s earth is also believed to have a skin-lightening effect, which makes it a popular ingredient in creams that are marketed to reduce the appearance of dark spots. There is no scientific evidence available to back this claim.
A number of beauty products containing fuller’s earth are available, including: