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Everything You Need to Know About Charcoal and Skincare

If you’re like most guys, you probably think of charcoal as the lumpy stuff you toss in the grill to barbecue for your friends, so it might come as a surprise to find that it’s also found in some of the best skincare products out there. Confusing, right? Don’t worry, the charcoal in your face wash is not the same as the stuff you use to grill outside before the big game. That would be weird. If you’ve been thinking about giving an activated charcoal face wash or mask a go, make sure you read this guide first. Charcoal can be a game-changer for a lot of guys, but it’s important to understand exactly what it does and how to use it before you go slathering it all over your mug.

What Does Charcoal Do in Skincare? 

The ever-popular charcoal mask is one of the hottest trends in guys’ products at the moment, but charcoal is found all over the skincare aisle. That’s because it has some pretty impressive benefits that can help clear up acne and make your skin look all-around better. But what even is activated charcoal and what does it do, exactly? Typically, when we talk about charcoal in skincare, we’re referring to activated charcoal, also known as activated carbon. To put it simply, activated charcoal’s superpower is detoxification. Due to its porosity and negative electrical charge, it has the ability to seep deep into clogged pores and give them a good purge. In fact, activated charcoal is widely used in medical toxicology to treat poisoned patients because it acts as an absorption aid to remove dangerous ingested substances. Activated charcoal is a fine, black powder that’s created as a byproduct of burning natural waste — coconut shells, bamboo, olive pits, wood, etc. — which has been oxidized. The oxidizing process leaves behind a super porous, purified black powder with an increased surface area, which has the unique ability to adhere to teeny tiny little impurities within your skin. Basically, it’s used along with other cleansing ingredients to rid the pores of dirt, dead skin cells, bacteria and tiny micro-particles that could be contributing to breakouts. On top of that, activated charcoal also carries a negative electrical charge, which allows it to clear the pores of positively charged acids, toxins and gases. Pretty impressive, right?

What Does This Have to Do with Skin?  

You probably already know that whiteheads and blackheads are caused by clogged pores. When we go about our daily lives, our pores fill up with excess oil, dirt, sweat, dead skin cells and other impurities that lead to whiteheads and blackheads. That’s because these impurities are magnets for bacteria, and the skin responds to bacteria by swelling up and getting inflamed. Hence, zits. It’s not just environmental factors that cause acne, either. Sometimes it comes from triggers from within. We all know that hormones can have a major effect on acne, especially among teenagers and women with premenstrual syndrome (PMS). This is because the hormones cause an overproduction of sebum (skin oil), which clogs the pores and triggers breakouts. What does this tell us? Anytime you’re looking for clear skin, you want to choose products that are good at sinking deep into pores and getting rid of all the aforementioned pore-plugging gunk. That explains why using a charcoal body wash or face wash can help you get rid of acne. To put it simply, not all ingredients are created equal when it comes to pore purging. but activated charcoal ranks at the top of the list. 

How to Use Activated Charcoal Skincare 

OK, so now that you know what this cool little powder does, it’s time to figure out how to integrate it into your daily life to soak up all its benefits.  

Use a Charcoal Face Wash — One of the simplest ways to introduce this powerful ingredient into your routine is by integrating an activated charcoal face wash and using it daily. This is a lot better for your skin than any DIY remedies you might find because it works alongside other key ingredients, such as salicylic acid, to heighten efficacy and improve results. Use a charcoal face wash twice a day, in the morning and at night.  

Use the Occasional Charcoal Face Mask — Face masks can be a great way to bolster your skincare routine and help you get the most out of your favourite ingredients, but they shouldn’t be used every day because they can irritate or dry out your skin. Pick up a gentle charcoal mask and use it two or three times a week to help get rid of that dull, dirty top layer and stimulate the regeneration of healthy skin.  

Follow Up with a Good Moisturiser — Since it’s so good at ridding bad substances from the pores, it probably won’t surprise you to learn that activated charcoal can also clear out some good substances, too. With the dirt and grime goes some healthy oils and vitamins, so you always want to make sure you’re replenishing them after a good mug scrub. Be sure to follow up with a hydrating moisturiser to keep skin silky.

Is Activated Charcoal Skincare Safe?  

Yes! Activated charcoal is considered safe and does not trigger any serious side effects (hence why it’s used in emergency rooms to treat poison). However, if you have severely dry or sensitive skin, you may want to skip products with activated charcoal and definitely don’t mix it with any super-drying ingredients. Note that activated charcoal is not the same as the ingredient coal tar, which is used to treat psoriasis and eczema.  

Your New Skincare Secret Weapon  

As you can see, activated charcoal has some untapped benefits that could help you get a clearer, healthier complexion. But like any skincare ingredient, you need to make sure this stuff jives well with your skin. If you’re brand-new to charcoal, consider patch testing in an inconspicuous area of the skin to make sure you don’t have a negative reaction. If all systems are a go, you’ll be able to enjoy the many amazing benefits of this surprising skincare ingredient!


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