The current It ingredient in skincare? Hint: it’s black, sooty, and more often associated with backyard barbecues than cosmetics. That’s right, charcoal is making an appearance on the cosmetics front. Find out how activated charcoal benefits the skin.
The use of charcoal is not new. It has long been utilized in the medical field to treat poisoning by chemicals, drugs, and snake bites, and is a common ingredient in water filters.
The current trend has taken the use of activated charcoal to the home. As in, it’s in everything from detox cleanses (in the form of pills and juices) to teeth whiteners (by adding the powder to toothpaste) to skin treatments.
Are we talking the briquettes from our grill? Sort of, but not exactly. Don’t go rubbing those ashes on your skin.
Activated charcoal means the carbon is infused with oxygen and is prepared for human ingestion (in the case of poisoning or detox) and skincare products. This oxygenation creates a super porous surface, increasing its ability to absorb matter and toxins. Possibly the most absorbent cosmetic ingredient out there, activated charcoal is said to have the ability to absorb thousands of times its own weight.
This super absorbency, plus antibacterial properties, makes activated charcoal an ideal ingredient for oily and acne prone skin types. It is used in acne products to draw out impurities, heal pimples, and prevent further breakouts.
Also an anti-aging ingredient, activated charcoal is said to tighten pores and smooth the skin. It also reduces inflammation, which is significant in preventing premature aging.
Most often used in masks, the fine black powder also makes appearances in soaps and washes. Proponents claim it decongests the skin and calms irritation, leaving behind a clear, even toned complexion.
Shiva Rose is one such fan. The actress and holistic beauty fan takes her love of the ingredient beyond skincare. Rose uses activated charcoal to treat bug bites and as a teeth whitener. She also took charcoal capsules as part of a detox cleanse, to absorb impurities from the gastrointestinal tract.
This all sounds great, right? With no solid evidence as yet to support activated charcoal benefits, the verdict is still out on this trendy ingredient. Still, those who take part claim amazing results.
Now for the big question…Is activated charcoal safe? If charcoal is sometimes made from petroleum, this would be a health hazard. While the Environmental Working Group Skin Deep Database gives activated charcoal a “0” hazard ranking, its safety would come down to sourcing. Find out if the charcoal in products you shop is made from petroleum or a healthier source, like coconut shells or bamboo. As with any ingredient sourcing query, read brand ingredient commitments or contact the brand with your question if you are not sure.
Like to try activated charcoal in skincare for yourself? Following are products from safe organic brands that include the sooty stuff. Or try your hand at a DIY charcoal face mask.
Osmia Organics Detox Exfoliating Mask
Soapwalla Kitchen Glycerin Soap Activated Charcoal & Petitgrain
May Lindstrom Skin The Problem Solver
Dr. Sponge™ Facial and Body Cleansing Sponge Charcoal
La Bella Figura Bio Active Purifying Mask
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Image by Lorenia at Flickr.com