With warmer weather constantly on our minds, we wouldn’t fault you for equating charcoal with summertime BBQs. But lately, have you been seeing charcoal listed everywhere? Between its surge as a popular ice cream ingredient, mouth treatment and, of course, face mask favorite, it may feel like charcoal is inescapable. Curious about this seemingly new all star?
For starters, when you see charcoal listed as an ingredient on any number of skincare products on the market, you’re seeing activated charcoal — not light-’em-up BBQ charcoal — and boy, does it do so much more than help grill your favorite meats and veggies. What is activated charcoal? And what does it claim to do for your skin? Read on for all of activated charcoal’s purported magnetic qualities.
What is activated charcoal?
Activated charcoal, also known as activated carbon, is a carbon that’s been treated to step up its absorption properties thanks to an increased surface area. That large surface area contains millions of tiny pores (much more than skin!) that absorb toxins and pollutants, trapping them in nooks and crannies. Activated charcoal is so effective and pull out toxins that emergency room doctors often use it as a treatment for patients experiencing alcohol poisoning or drug overdoses. This is because the activated charcoal sucks up the life-threatening toxins before they’re absorbed into the bloodstream where they can do serious damage.
What does activated charcoal do for skin?
When companies add activated charcoal to skincare products (think: masks, makeup melters, body soap and facial cleansers), that charcoal acts like a magnet, drawing oil, bacteria, dirt and other skin-clogging micro-particles up and away from pores. With a rinse of water, all the gunk that previously resided deep down in your pores — but is now drawn out and bound to the activated charcoal — is easily whisked away. Though it may be a bit jarring (ever accidentally answered the door for a delivery man with your face coated in a black, dirty looking face mask?) activated charcoal takes care of that beautiful task of detoxifying and deep-cleaning skin.
But is activated charcoal really OK to use on skin?
In a word: Yes. Because charcoal is inert, you needn’t worry about allergic reactions or irritation to sensitive skin. Also, charcoal isn’t metabolized, adsorbed or absorbed by the body.
Who benefits from using skincare products containing activated charcoal?
Do you have oily skin? A bit of acne? A deep desire to detox your complexion? Many skincare products that contain activated charcoal are aimed at people who seek to deep-cleanse skin because of any or all of the aforementioned reasons. Many dermatologists, aestheticians and skincare brands champion the theory that activated charcoal’s magnetic properties can effectively draw toxins and pollutants up and out of your pores. Products containing activated charcoal tend to include other acne-fighting ingredients that will put you on the path to clearer skin. In other words, there’s no reason not to purchase a charcoal-infused face mask!