Activated charcoal has gained popularity in skincare as a potential ingredient for various beauty and skincare treatments. However, it’s essential to use it with caution and to understand its benefits and potential risks when applied to the face.
Well, there is no specific evidence that supports the exfoliate or anti-aging properties of activated charcoal as per a review study by the Clinics in Dermatology journal. Nevertheless, despite this, users are convinced it works thanks to anecdotal evidence which hint on its effectiveness. So, the answer is yes, you can use activated charcoal on your face skin to see what it does to you personally.
What Is Activated Charcoal?
Activated charcoal is common charcoal exposed to heat and powdered for use. By heating the charcoal in high temperature, little holes form making it extremely absorbent. Due to this property, activated charcoal is claimed to absorb toxins from the body which is why it is used to treat poisonings or drug overdoses.
In skincare, activated charcoal is also assumed to have the potential to remove impurities on the skin. On the face, charcoal is applied as a mask to exfoliate and impart other benefits to the skin.
What are Some of the Key Benefits for Using Activated Charcoal?
- Deep Cleansing: Activated charcoal is known for its ability to draw out impurities, dirt, and excess oils from the skin. This makes it useful for those with oily or acne-prone skin.
- Exfoliation: Some charcoal-based skincare products also have small particles that can act as a mild exfoliant, helping to remove dead skin cells and leave your skin looking fresher.
- Unclogging Pores: Charcoal can help unclog pores, which is essential for preventing acne and blackheads.
- Oil Control: It can help control excess oil production, making it beneficial for individuals with oily skin.
- Treats Certain Skin Conditions: Some people use activated charcoal for conditions like eczema and psoriasis, although its effectiveness for these purposes is debated.
Risks and Considerations:
- Drying Effect: Activated charcoal can be quite drying to the skin, which may not be suitable for those with dry or sensitive skin. If you do have dry skin, use products with activated charcoal sparingly and moisturize afterward.
- Irritation: Some people may experience skin irritation or allergic reactions when using charcoal-based products. It’s advisable to do a patch test before using any new skincare product on your face.
- Not Suitable for All Skin Types: As mentioned, activated charcoal can be harsh on the skin, so it may not be suitable for everyone. If you have concerns or specific skin conditions, consult with a dermatologist before using charcoal-based products.
- Staining: Activated charcoal can stain clothing and towels, so be cautious when using it.
- Use Moderation: Don’t use activated charcoal on your face excessively. Overuse can strip the skin of its natural oils and disrupt the skin’s natural barrier.
- Not a Miracle Cure: While activated charcoal can be beneficial, it’s not a miracle solution for all skincare problems. It should be used in conjunction with a proper skincare routine and, if necessary, with other dermatologist-recommended treatments.
What Are the Benefits of a Charcoal Facial Mask?
Activated charcoal has become a popular ingredient in many beauty products including cleansers, soaps, oils, lotions and masks. Charcoal masks are claimed to have the following benefits:
- May remove impurities- activated charcoal is believed to absorb toxins on the skin just like it does in the body. Like caffeine face masks, charcoal face mask may draw both dirt and impurities from the skin.
- May regulate facial oiliness- activated charcoal allegedly reduces skin oiliness by absorbing excess oil. It also removes dead skin cells which may leave your skin glowing.
- May diminish acne breakouts- since activated charcoal can balance the skin oils and remove impurities from the skin pores, it may reduce acne breakouts.
Is Using Charcoal on My Face Dangerous?
While there are no scientific studies the effectiveness of charcoal masks, there is also very limited research claiming it is dangerous. Some beauty experts, however, caution on using this facial mask due to the following reasons:
- Removing a charcoal face mask is quite painful- there are countless of videos on Instagram and YouTube of people trying out this facial mask and the removal looks painful.
- Charcoal mask may strip natural oils from the face. Although satisfying to see how blackheads get removed with this mask, but cosmetologists claim it is a bad idea. Andy Milward, a skin care expert explains that what we think are blackheads are actually sebaceous filaments which are required to stay intact on the skin.
- If not careful about the application process, charcoal face mask can remove hair from your brows and hair line.
- Charcoal masks may exacerbate acne by causing scarring and infection.
DIY Detoxifying Charcoal Face Masks You Can Try
If you feel adventurous and want to hop on to the chance of trying it at home, then these DIY recipes can get you there.
For oily skin
- 1 tablespoon activated charcoal
- 1 tablespoon clay
- 1 probiotic capsule
- 1 drop of essential oil (for acne)
- 2 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons activated charcoal
- 2 tablespoons liquid castile soap (unscented)
- 2 tablespoons fine white/brown rice flour
- 1 tablespoon vitamin E oil (you can also use almond or jojoba oil)
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- 1 or 2 activated charcoal capsules
- 1 egg white (beaten until fluffy)
- ¼ teaspoon lemon juice
- Activated charcoal
- Aloe vera gel
- 1 drop of tea tree oil
- 10 activated charcoal capsules
- ¼ cup grounded oats
- ¼ cup kaolin clay
- ¼ cup bentonite clay
- 7 drops each, tea tree and lavender essential oil
When applying a charcoal mask on your face ensure to avoid applying on your hairline, eyebrows, and near your eye lashes because the mask can remove hair.
If you want to use activated charcoal in your skincare routine, consider using products from reputable brands that have been tested for safety and effectiveness.
Always follow the instructions on the product label and discontinue use if you experience any adverse reactions. Additionally, if you have any doubts or concerns, consult with a dermatologist who can provide personalized skincare advice based on your skin type and concerns.
Brandon Burroway, Nelson Sanchez, and Rachel Fayne. Clin Dermatol. 2019. “Charcoal: an ancient material with a new face” PMID: 32513407.
Michelle Nati. Ranker.com. 2019. “Using charcoal on your face is actually incredibly dangerous.”
Stephanie Gerber. Hello glow. 2020. “8 detoxifying charcoal face masks you can make at home.”