They say you shouldn't judge by appearances, and this is certainly true of natural products. Take charcoal, for instance: What looks like a dirty, sooty powder is actually an absorption powerhouse.
Activated charcoal has become a popular ingredient in all kinds of personal care products. You can find it today in toothpastes, shampoos, and face masks—plus, it's even been used to treat upset stomachs, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Before you try a charcoal face mask as part of your beauty routine, consult your doctor or dermatologist. If you're planning to make your own mask, be sure that you are starting with high-grade activated charcoal that's recommended by your medical professional or from a scientifically tested and trusted brand.
What Is Activated Charcoal?
While activated charcoal is similar in name and chemistry to a charcoal briquette, what you use in your grill is not the same product and is not suitable for your skin. Activated charcoal is created by heating a common charcoal made of organic matter (such as peat, wood, or coconut shells) in the presence of gas, according the NIH. The process causes the material to become porous, filled with spaces and pockets that can trap all kinds of substances.
When it comes to health and beauty products, activated charcoal is marketed as a way to whiten teeth, reduce acne, alleviate hangover symptoms, and more. While some of these claims have yet to be scientifically proven, here's what you need to know about charcoal face masks and other charcoal products.
Charcoal Face Mask Benefits
Face masks are a popular way to tackle skin concerns with a relaxing, spa-like treatment. The porous quality of activated charcoal makes the ingredient popular in face masks because it can help draw out dirt, oil, and other substances that clog pores. It's important to note that not much research has been done on the use of activated charcoal on the skin, so while a charcoal face mask is most likely safe, you should proceed with caution.
There are a number of high-quality charcoal face masks that can be purchased online or in the beauty aisle at your favorite stores. It's always recommended to choose a trusted brand and check the ingredient label to verify the quality of the product. You can also make your own mask by following a few simple steps.
Self has a recipe that combines 1 tbsp. of activated charcoal powder, ½ tbsp. of bentonite clay, and a pinch of rose water. This homemade mask reportedly cleared out blackheads and left skin feeling smooth and clean.
When starting a new skin care program, you will want to test the product on your wrist before applying it to your face to ensure that you don't develop any irritation or other issues.
Other Products Featuring Charcoal
Pore strips, shampoos, bar soap, and other cleansers all come in varieties that tout the impurity-trapping benefits of activated charcoal.
Tom's of Maine Activated Charcoal Toothpaste can help you gently whiten teeth by removing surface stains using naturally derived ingredients. Plus, it's the gentlest charcoal toothpaste among leading natural brands based on RDA testing and is safe for enamel and everyday use.
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Why It's Good
Activated charcoal is naturally porous. When it is used as an ingredient in products such as shampoo, toothpaste, or face masks, it draws out impurities and leaves you with a fresh, clean feeling.