Activated Charcoal: The Ultimate Way to Detox Your Skin
By Erin Patterson
Let’s say you’re vigilant about removing your makeup and cleansing your skin every day and — poof! — all of a sudden you’re seeing clogged pores and breakouts. At some point in time, toxic buildup happens to us all. But don’t reach for the abrasive scrubs or clay mask. There’s something that works more powerfully to unclog congested skin and it’s called activated charcoal.
What is Activated Charcoal?
Activated charcoal, also called activated carbon, is a fine black powder that’s produced when common charcoal is exposed to high heat. This exposure creates tiny interior spaces or holes in the charcoal, making it highly absorbent and enabling it to trap toxins. The idea is that, when applied to the skin, the charcoal draws out oil, bacteria, and dirt, leaving your complexion looking clearer and revitalized. And in case you were wondering, activated charcoal is different from the charcoal used on an outdoor grill. Good to know, right?
It’s also good to know that activated charcoal can play a role in helping you achieve clear, glowing skin through its superb grime-fighting, pore-purifying power. Here are the three top ways in which activated charcoal can give your skin a deeper-level detox.
Clear skin starts with an effective cleanser. For a better cleanse, you want something that does more than rinse away impurities from the skin’s surface. Activated charcoal goes the distance by not only rinsing away dirt from the surface, but also extracting it out of your deepest pores. If you truly want a detox that does more, a cleanser with mineral-rich activated charcoal can give your skin a super-clean feeling while removing dead skin cells, grime, and oil.
A deeper cleanse doesn’t mean aggressive. Look for an activated charcoal cleanser that is non-abrasive and sulfate-free. Some formulas also contain ingredients that calm redness, prompt collagen production, and protect your skin’s barrier.
Treat and Prevent Acne .
Activated charcoal is known to be an excellent skin fix for clearing up acne and blackheads. As you probably already know, acne is caused by a buildup of dead skin cells, oil, and bacteria that gets trapped inside pores. The result is pimples and other inflammatory lesions. Since charcoal has antibacterial properties and pore-purifying abilities, it can treat the acne you have, while preventing future breakouts by keeping pores clean.
Balance Skin Quickly.
So you’ve tried everything to get your skin in shape but nothing is working? We’ve all been there. The truth is, pretty much anyone’s skin could benefit from a deep detox from time to time. The right charcoal cleanser or mask can balance skin quickly, helping to absorb excess oil and gunk that’s making your skin seem duller than normal and your pores seem larger than they should. Especially if you live in a city where air pollution is severe, you’ll want a detoxifying charcoal product in your beauty kit. The feeling of fresh (not stripped) skin and the look of smaller pores are two of charcoal’s biggest benefits.
How to Invest in the Right Charcoal Treatment for Your Skin Type.
The skincare world has exploded with charcoal masks, spot treatments, and cleansers that have varying ingredients. To find a product that’s compatible with your skin type, it’s important to read the labels and do your research. For example, if you have sensitive skin, stay away from charcoal products that also contain fragrances, dyes, parabens, and other chemicals that may trigger a reaction. If you have oily skin, make sure your charcoal cleanser or mask contains other non-comedogenic (non-pore clogging) and oil-controlling ingredients like aloe, hyaluronic acid, or niacinamide. If you have dry skin, choose a charcoal product with hydrating botanical ingredients like olive oil or jojoba oil.
Your smartphone (bacteria!), the environment (pollution!), and lifestyle (stress!) are just three of the things that threaten our skin, causing it to break out and look dull. Luckily, activated charcoal works quickly to detoxify skin and keep it in the clear.
Before using a charcoal facial treatment for the first time, it’s a good idea to test the product on a small patch of skin on the inside of your wrist or elbow. If you don’t experience any itching or redness within a few hours, then it’s probably safe to use on your face.