5 Best Clay Lightener Options (real Reviews and Buying Guide)

Tired of looking the same and have finally settled on doing your own balayage? Good for you! Changing our hairstyle once in a while is certainly one of the key acts we can do to improve our appearance.

If you have finally decided to get your balayage, then you are in the right place because the right products for a big change like this one are key, among those products there is, of course, a clay lightener.

The reasons for coloring your hair are many, and most importantly, you don’t always need one. If you’ve been dreaming of getting a balayage this is certainly a sign from the universe telling you two things: research is important and the time has come for you to take the plunge.

Balayage is a type of hair coloring technique that removes harsh lines of demarcation from the different shades of color on your locks. The key to a fabulous balayage then relies on a perfect blend of the lighter highlights on your hair with the rest of the darker locks.

This is where the best clay-based lightener you can get will work its magic and give you a gradual effect, characteristic of the perfect balayage. In other words, the best clay lightener for balayage will give your balayage the perfect seamless color application.

Whether you are taking balayage into your own hands or not, knowing exactly what your mane will be submitted to is important. This way you can choose the right products for your hair needs. To help you in your balayage journey, we’ll be sharing with you, some of the best balayage clay lightener options, where to find them, tips, and more.

Clay Lightener Reviewed In This Guide

How To Choose The Perfect Clay Lightener For You?

Everyone knows that when it comes to balayage, the technique is crucial. Balayage application, balayage placement, etc. These are the things that get most of the attention. However, just as important as the technique, your lightning product is just as critical.

In order to achieve the results that your guests are looking for, you need to make sure that you are not only using the right type of product, but also the right consistency.

The best clay-based lightener consistency will depend on a number of factors, including the specific qualities of the hair you are working on. For example, because the product clings more easily to coarse hair, you’ll probably want a slightly looser consistency. Fine hair, on the other hand, typically doesn’t hold the product as well and therefore will often require a thicker consistency.

Ultimately, the product consistency that you’re looking for is one that is paintable but stays in place.

Types Of Clay Lightener

Mineral Clay Lightener

This Clay Lightener is formulated with a mineral clay called Kaolin. This clay coats and encapsulates the hair, forming an outer shell that doesn’t completely dry out or flake. It’s not gritty at all.

In fact, the smooth consistency of the mixture and shell formed allows for balayage hair painting without the worry of transfer, swelling, or bleeding. That means you have complete control over where it goes without the worry of the lightener getting on any areas you don’t want it to.

Polymer Clay Lightener

The clay polymer-based formula produces an ultra-creamy application. Creating a single cast around the hair to encapsulate moisture, eliminates the need for foil or plastic.

Kaolin Clay Lightener

Kaolin is a fine, soft, white clay that gives our lightener a smooth, creamy consistency rather than the grainy, thin consistency of granular, silica-based lighteners. It moisturizes hair while, and the application is incredibly smooth.

Best Clay Lightener List

1. BlondMe Clay Lightener

What We Like

  • Clay Lightener
  • Normal Hair Type
  • Tint Brush/Comb.

What We Don’t Like

  • Pricey

This bundle set includes the following items: One count of BlondMe Enforcing Premium Clay Lightener 7+ 350 grams. According to most users, if you have black hair, this is the best clay lightener for dark hair.

Discover BlondMe Bond Enforcing Clay Lightener a premium soft-to-solid formula that creates an outer shell, allowing the lightener to stay moist on the inside while unleashing its full lightening power within the hair.

What Our Testers Say

LOVEEEEE THIS PRODUCT! But if you have super dark hair like I do and are trying to upkeep blonde, I’d definitely recommend using a 40-volume developer instead of whatever it recommends.

It did not damage my hair, processed quickly and evenly minus me using the volume it requested rather than what I know will lighten my hair in one use. It also came with the cutest little bleach brush/comb thingy && it smells great compared to regular bleach/hair lightener.

Clay Lightener for easy to work with consistency and clear lighting results. Ideal for Bases 3 to 8.

With your purchase, you also get one count of M Hair Designs Tint Brush/Comb. It features 1.5 inches-wide bristles, 2.25 inches wide comb, 8 inches long detachable handle, a pointed end for sectioning, white color.


My only advice is to stick to the developer you’d normally use depending on your hair.

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2. Pravana Pure Light Balayage Clay Lightener

What We Like

  • Clay Lightener
  • For Balayage
  • Kaolin clay

What We Don’t Like

  • Expensive

Specifically formulated for the art of Balayage, this clay-based formula utilizes a proprietary blend of Rice Flour and Kaolin Clay that encapsulates the lightener so it stays moist inside and continues processing. It has a thick, whipped consistency for up to 5 levels of lift and beautiful gradient, blended results.

It purposefully creates effortless, natural blondes without the use of foils. Pure Light Balayage Lightener creates a touched-by-the-sun look that is so unique from lighteners of the past, stylists will find balayage to be easier than ever before.

What it does: PRAVANA’s proprietary blend of Ricke Flour and Kaolin Clay actually hardens and creates a shell around the hair, insulating the lightener inside, allowing the product to continue processing without drying or needing foil.

What else you need to know: This unique hardened shell also allows hair artists to layer sections for foil-free lightening with no fear of transfer. Consider this the best clay lightener for balayage.

What Our Testers Say

Great product! Gives flawless results!

How To Use Pravana Pure Light Balayage Clay Lightener

  1. In a non-metallic bowl, mix 1-part Clay Lightener with 2 parts Developer.
  2. For a thicker consistency mix 1:1.
  3. For a thinner consistency mix 1:2.
  4. Paint the hair using a sweeping motion.
  5. Process Clay Lightener at room temperature for up to 1 hour.
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3. WELLA Color Charm Clay Lightener

What We Like

  • Balayage Lightener
  • Hair Highlights
  • Ammonia-Free
  • Normal Hair Type

What We Don’t Like

  • One Use Only

Wella Color Charm PAINTING is an ammonia-free balayage lightener that provides up to 6 levels of lift. Natural, sun-kissed highlights. No foils are needed.

The development time depends on the condition of the hair and desired result. Process for up to 50 minutes.

Wella color charm PAINTING is an ammonia-free balayage system complete with a PAINTING Lightener that provides up to 6 levels of lift resulting in natural, sun-kissed highlights.

What Our Testers Say

This is my favorite clay lightener. It isn’t overly drying, can be used with heat, and can get my level 8.5 hair to lovely platinum in about an hour with just 20 volumes of peroxide. I have been using it for over ten years and am always disappointed when I deviate.

The clay-based formula, when mixed with the PAINTING dedicated developer, allows the user to paint the mixture right on the hair – no foils necessary. Perfect for Balayage techniques. Easily create a natural-looking blonde.

Use exclusively with designated Wella color charm PAINTING Developer for best results.


Before styling, apply a Healing Oil to deliver keratin to the hair.

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What We Like

  • 6 Levels Of Lift
  • Kaolin Clay
  • No Heat

What We Don’t Like

  • Expensive

The Only Lightener Perfect for Balayage What it does: Sunlights Lightener, with up to six levels of lift with no heat, was designed specifically for the Balayage Artist.

Unlike predominantly silica (sand) based foil lighteners, the kaolin (clay) in Sunlights provides the optimal consistency and saturation for painting hair.

What Our Testers Say

This was gentle on my hair and has good lifting. I just switched over to this and my hair which is platinum, so very processed, felt so much better after I did my roots this time, than it ever felt with my previous bleach, it was significant! My hair has never felt so good after bleaching. And the lift was so much better. So much brighter, and whiter.

When you use a granulated foil lightener when painting balayage, you end up with puffing, dusting, bleeding, and holes in your highlighted streak.

Quit getting frustrated and start using Sunlights today. What else you need to know: One tub of lightener produces 34 balayage applications. Sunlights can be mixed with any manufacturer’s creme developer.


Apply lightener no higher than the eyebrow when creating a natural-looking balayage

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5. TIGI True Light Freestyle Blonder Clay Lightener

What We Like

  • Clay
  • Dry Hair Type
  • Mineral Oil

What We Don’t Like

  • Expensive

TIGI Colour introduces its new innovative clay lightener True Light Freestyle Blonder, specifically designed by hairdressers for freehand techniques such as balayage, micro, and baby lights.

Formulated with clay and mineral oil, it provides a perfectly controlled application and achieves up to 7 levels of lift in only 40 minutes for quicker freehand painting services and healthy conditioned blondes.

Its, TIGI-exclusive, Anti-Breakage Arginine Complex helps to maintain hair integrity during the lightening process for beautiful and healthy-looking hair. Achieving healthier, lighter blondes has never been so easy.

What Our Testers Say

I’ve bleached my own hair for years & this is hands down the most gentle formula I’ve tried. It has oil in it which really helped with not burning or irritating my scalp and skin.

I usually have a sore scalp after doing my roots & break out it dry patches for the first few days but this had less of an odor & I was fine. My hair also didn’t feel as dry. I will never use the other stuff again!!!

To use for off-the-scalp application only for freehand techniques to emphasize a haircut. Using scales, measure the required amount of the True Light Freestyle Blonder into a non-metallic bowl.

Features and Benefits Formulated with Clay and Mineral Oil for a perfectly controlled application Achieves up to 7 levels of lift in only 40 minutes Anti-Breakage Arginine Complex helps to maintain hair integrity during the lightening process


Add TIGI Colour Activator in the ratio of 1:1.5 or 1:2, depending on the desired consistency, and mix to a smooth clay. Apply to dry hair and process until the desired lightness is achieved, up to a maximum of 40 minutes.

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Clay Lightener Buying Guide

What Is A Clay Lightener?

Lightening can be defined as a process of artificial reduction and dissolution of pigment in the hair. A good lightener makes all the difference in the brightness and vibrancy of a hue.

The texture is of paste whose consistency can be likened to toothpaste. Due to this makeup, clay lighteners will hold well and can be easily controlled to avoid overlapping with your existing balayage color.

The presence of oxygen-releasing boosters alongside inert ones makes it possible for the substances to penetrate into the hair quickly and efficiently. This form may also be offered into a powder you need to mix with a solution to form a paste.

A Clay Lightener’s formula and creamy consistency make it the perfect lightener for balayage artists. You can use a clay Lightener on the scalp, in foil, and in hair painting techniques. These are designed especially for freehand and balayage techniques.

How Does A Clay Lightener Work?

In balayage, a lightener is usually painted on, starting midshaft and becoming denser as it moves down the section of hair to the ends.

A clay lightener has a thicker texture so it stays precisely where painted and doesn’t drip through the hair. Cream-based lighteners can achieve up to seven levels of lift, while clay-based lighteners (which have the consistency of toothpaste) can offer three to five levels of lift.

Clay Lightener is enriched with quinoa, argan oil, and safflower oils, all of which contribute to giving the hair condition, elasticity, and luster. Clay Lightener also contains a seaweed extract for added moisture retention, silkiness, and assists in protecting the integrity of the hair.

Features To Look For In A Clay Lightener

Easy To Use

A clay lightener is fantastic because of the application. As you move through your sections, the consistency doesn’t change so you don’t get any surprises.


Whether the lighteners were clay, creme, or powder-based, and how well these formulas work, keep in mind what is best for your hair. Finer hair types (in any texture from coily to straight) tend to process a lot quicker than more coarse hair types, noting the volume of peroxide used when formulating a single process is so important.


Keep an eye out to see if the products were too harsh or left hair damaged or dry. A clay lightener is usually easy on the hair, super smooth, and stays put wherever you place it.

Lightning Power

Check how well the lighteners helped in removing color pigments from hair. Additionally, check for Ammonia-free and sulfate-free options, that do good to your hair.


Balayage is all about getting a natural look without harsh lines of demarcation. In order to accomplish this, your lightener needs to be at just the right consistency. Too thick, and you won’t be able to paint effectively; too thin, and it won’t stay where you want it to stay. Using products with the wrong consistency is one of the most common balayage mistakes.

It’s pretty easy to adjust the thickness and consistency of a clay-based lightener to get the exact consistency that you need which, as we discussed above, is incredibly important.

Drying Ability

Clay hardens from the outside in. This keeps the inside of the treated hair wetter for longer, which allows the product to really penetrate and maximize the lift.

Building Ability

You can build a clay lightener in a way that you simply cannot achieve with a traditional foil lightener. The more you can build the product, the more lift you will ultimately have, and the more control you can exercise over the whole experience.

Common Questions About Clay Lightener

Is a lightener the same as bleach?

Lightening can be defined as a process of artificial reduction and dissolution of pigment in the hair. Bleaching – allows the lightening of already colored hair. This technique is to be used if the customer wishes to change the shade of their hair (already colored) from a dark one to a lighter one.

How long do you leave the clay lightener on?

Paint the hair using a sweeping motion. Process Clay Lightener at room temperature for up to 1 hour. This product can process at room temperature. Process for up to 50 minutes based on the desired level of lift. Safe for use on and off the scalp applications.

How many levels does the clay lightener lift?

Simply Blonde Clay Lightener delivers up to 7 levels of lift in a single application for any hand-painting technique. Formulated with Kaolin Clay for an ultra-creamy application, it creates a cast around the hair to encapsulate moisture.

Can you put the clay lightener under heat?

You normally avoid putting heat on the hair, so that the clay doesn’t dry out, too quickly. Some stylists will place Saran Wrap between sections to avoid the light drying out too fast, and or to prevent smudging or bleeding.

Is balayage better for your hair than foils?

All in all, each highlighting method creates a different look. For a natural, sun-swept look, balayage highlights are the perfect option. If you prefer uniform highlighted strands from root to end throughout your hair, foils are your best bet.

How many levels can balayage lift?

Generally speaking, balayage tends to be best for: Clients requiring four levels of lift or less: Balayage can typically get you about 4 levels of lift in a single session, which means that it isn’t always the best route for those guests who need intense brightness or want a dramatic shift in their color.

Can you balayage with normal bleach?

As with all highlighting techniques, balayage requires lightening and that means you’ll need to have your hair bleached. Bleaching your hair can cause damage, so it’s important to make sure you take care of your strands pre- and post-balayage.

What is the mildest type of Lightner?

Oil lighteners are the mildest type, appropriate when only one or two levels of lift are desired. Because they are so mild, they are also used professionally to lighten dark facial and body hair. Cream lighteners are strong enough for high-lift blonding but gentle enough to be used on the scalp.

Clay lightener vs bleach: which one is better?

I don’t think there’s a true answer to this question since everyone has their own preference. But experts would argue that a clay lightener is better for the integrity of the hair.

Using bleach for years like most women will leave you with pretty wild breakage but if you commit to a clay lightener your hair will look and feel healthier.

Why is Kaolin clay the best lightener?

This lightweight clay is sourced from the weathering rocks that are naturally occurring in the soil, which unlike the sand-based clay lighteners is lower in pH and gentler on hair. The Kaolin clay provides quality consistency and saturation perfect for painting those highlights while simultaneously conditioning hair for a luster finish.

How to use a clay lightener?

  1. Mix up your clay lightener with a 40 Vol developer. (2:1 ratio)
  2. Apply highlights using the rule of percentages and let process for 40 minutes with no heat. Remember the rule of percentages:
    If they want to be blonde and bright, more than 50% are highlighted.
    If they want to keep their natural brunette hair less than 50% should be highlighted.
  3. Scratch test to see if your highlighter is ready
  4. Rinse and flash tone at the sink
  5. Blow-dry and style.

Enjoy Your New Clay Lightener

Remember the best clay-based lightener is a creamy yet firm clay option that makes it easy to place lightness exactly where wanted. Being a clay lightener, the product closest to the hair stays moist longer to keep lightening strength evenly consistent.

We sincerely hope you enjoyed our top picks for the best clay lightener. We believe you are now ready to make an informed decision and evaluate what’s best for your specific hair needs.

Feel free to contact us if you have any doubts, questions, or comments. We are always happy to hear from you.

Disclosure: The Hair Products recommended in this article are our top favorites because they have a great combination of quality, features, and affordability. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases made through the links as a way to support this site. If you buy a qualifying product, you’re not charged anything extra, but I’ll get a small commission to help pay for my expenses. I hope you find our advice helpful and discover the Best Hair Products for your needs on this list.

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After graduating from an apprenticeship program in 2010, color specialist Doris began working behind the chair. She started with color corrections and then moved on to creative color. Currently, she works with blonding and grey-blending clients. Sarah views hair color as both an art form and a science and is passionate about salon education, which is the main reason why she started this blog. She has the Invisible Bead Extension Certification and the Bellami Master Certification for extensions.
Photo of author
After graduating from an apprenticeship program in 2010, color specialist Doris began working behind the chair. She started with color corrections and then moved on to creative color. Currently, she works with blonding and grey-blending clients. Sarah views hair color as both an art form and a science and is passionate about salon education, which is the main reason why she started this blog. She has the Invisible Bead Extension Certification and the Bellami Master Certification for extensions.