The use of activated charcoal has been documented in ancient Chinese and Ayurveda practices for centuries. More recently, the benefits of activated charcoal has been applied in hospital emergency rooms as a detoxifying agent for years. It attaches to toxins and removes them from the body – making it an effective treatment for treating alcohol poisoning and drug overdoses. Activated charcoal is so efficient at absorbing toxins from the body –it’s recommended by the Poison Control Center for anyone who accidentally swallows poisons.
It was only a matter of time before we started using this amazing carbon as an effective beauty product for detoxing, cleaning and improving skin and hair.
What is Activated Charcoal?
Activated charcoal is made by heating substances like wood, bamboo or coconut shells to very high temperatures at low oxygen concentrations. This slow burning process removes substances from the wood such as hydrogen, methane and tar, leaving behind a carbon product that is then ‘activated’.
Activation is the process of chemically, or naturally, steaming the charcoal to further remove any and all remaining non-carbon elements that may linger. It’s a purification process that leaves behind a very porous ingredient. It’s this extremely porous quality that makes activated charcoal capable of attracting, absorbing and removing toxins at the cellular level in skin and hair. This makes it one of nature’s best beauty detox agents.
Activated Charcoal for the Face
This ‘new’ and resurgent use of activated charcoal to improve skin has resulted in loads of products to choose from.
Many are marketed as ‘natural’ products because they ‘naturally’ draw impurities from the skin and remove them from the body before they can be absorbed into the bloodstream.
As Diane Heinz, Paramedical Esthetician specializing in treatment of acne says, “Charcoal works the same way when used as a face mask. When dirt, oil and other impurities in the pores come in contact with the carbon, they stick to it and then get washed away when you rinse.”
How Does Activated Charcoal Work?
When considering the benefits of activated charcoal, it’s hard to replicate it as a detoxifying, cleansing, product for skin. But did you know that activated charcoal detox properties are also great for treating cellulite, body odor and even cleaning teeth? However, the same detoxing action that draws out toxins, will also attach to and draw out essential minerals and vitamins that could strip the skin. This leaves the skin unbalanced and incapable of repairing or restoring itself. For that reason, activated charcoal products should not be used every day. And the product should contain replenishing and conditioning ingredients to balance and nourish the skin.
Here are some of the many benefits of using a product with activated charcoal – depending on what type of skin condition you are addressing:
Activated charcoal is the ideal ingredient for balancing oily skin. As a cleanser or mask, it can draw out excess oils from the skin, leaving it smooth and clear. Use sparingly to avoid drying out the skin which will only stimulate the production and more oil, and do not use if you have dry skin.
Clogged pores can become enlarged pores. Pores can become clogged from dirt, oils and dead skin cells. To minimize the appearance of enlarged pores, use an activated charcoal mask to bind and remove the debris from the skin. Doing so leaves pores less visible. For best results, use after an exfoliating scrub to remove dead skin cells and achieve a deeper clean.
Many cleansers today contain activated charcoal, however, it is not a good idea to use these every day. Using a charcoal product as a daily cleanser can turn healthy skin into dry, overstimulated, skin. An activated charcoal cleanser is ideal for doing a deep cleanse once or twice a week to draw out toxins, excess oils and debris. Follow with a nourishing mask after cleansing for best results.
Using an activated charcoal mask for acne prone skin can definitely help calm and treat acne, depending on the severity of the condition. Not only will it absorb excess oils and toxins from the surface of the skin. It will draw out toxins below the surface. If you don’t want to treat your whole face, try it as a spot treatment overnight for great results.
Other Skin Conditions
The benefits of activated charcoal are numerous and it should be no surprise that the ability to draw out toxins from the skin makes activated charcoal an effective treatment for other skin conditions. These include insect bites and stings, minor cuts and scrapes, or even mild skin infections. Simply apply activated charcoal as a paste to the affected area as a topical balm to lessen the pain and swelling of bites and heal minor cuts and abrasions.
Activated Charcoal Skincare Products to Consider
If you regularly deal with enlarged pores, oily skin, dullness, and uneven texture, this ultra-purifying mask can help. Not only will this mask remove environmental toxins and dirt, but the charcoal also helps to absorb excess oil and prevent future breakouts. Use one to two times per week for best results.
This activated charcoal mask has natural charcoal to deep-clean pores, plus kaolin and menthol to exfoliate and absorb excess oil. While the menthol reduces redness and increases circulation. Gentle enough to use once or twice a week. Apply the mask to a wet face (it’s activated by water). And gently massage your face for one minute (the mask will gradually heat up as you massage). After one minute, rinse thoroughly.
This mask is a best-seller for a reason – it contains both black and white activated charcoal, for a super clean feeling. Plus it also has jojoba, honeysuckle flower extract, rosemary leaf oil, eucalyptus leaf oil, and willowherb to absorb and control oil, reduce the look of pores, and banish blackheads. According to Boscia, clinical studies show: – 100% of users reported their skin felt clean – 100% of user reported their skin felt less oily – 84.2% of users reported their skin appears more radiant – 84.2% of users reported their pores felt tighter and more refined.
You can use this charcoal scrub on both your face and your body. In addition to activated charcoal, it uses Dead Sea salt and essential oils to exfoliate, moisturize, and rejuvenate. It can also be used to eliminate skin itchiness and odor on your underarms, your feet, and your scalp.
As a face treatment, it is used to expel excess oil and impurities in the skin. It acts as a powerful blackhead remover. It detoxifies and rejuvenates skin with its exfoliating action and leaves moisturizing minerals and nutrients behind.
As a body scrub activated charcoal is one of the best methods for obtaining a natural treatment for cellulite.
This charcoal mask is packed with natural ingredients like charcoal, black sugar, black garlic, black bean, black sesame, kaolin and rice extract which makes all the difference, especially when it comes to moisturizing the skin. This hard-working mask removes impurities, hydrates and soothes the skin.
Activated Charcoal for Hair
Hair is an extremely efficient material for taking on all kinds of products. While the hair does not actually absorb these products – the products do coat the hair cuticle which has many tiny scales on each strand. The hair cuticle is the outermost part of the hair shaft. It is formed from dead cells, overlapping in layers, which form scales that strengthen and protect the hair shaft.
The scalp, on the other hand, is more susceptible to the things we do to and put on our hair. Oils, residual hair product, chemicals, dirt and debris all build up on the scalp can lead to flakiness, irritation and itching. Also, because the scalp is part of the skin organ – hair follicles attached to the scalp can and do absorb chemicals, nutrients and everything else through the scalp, into the hair shaft. So, it’s no surprise that hair products with activated charcoal can help clean, repair and condition the scalp and hair.
Those who use a lot of product on their hair often feel like their scalp is itchy or irritated and/or hair feels and looks heavy and listless. The build-up of residual hair products can clog the hair follicle in the scalp which can contribute to hair loss and weigh down the hair cuticle, making hair look dull and listless.
Maintaining a healthy scalp, much in the same way as we maintain healthy skin, is key to having a healthy head of hair – and the absorbing qualities of activated charcoal can help in a variety of ways:
Treat Scalp Conditions
Whether it’s red, itchy scalp, flakiness, dandruff, excess oil or something else, washing your hair with an activated charcoal shampoo product will draw out the toxins, oils and residual chemicals. This leaves a noticeable difference to the quality and condition of your scalp. You can purchase a ready-made product or mix activated charcoal into your own shampoo.
These are several products suitable for treating the scalp, such as:
Ideal for treating itchiness and flaking. Binchotan charcoal draws impurities from the scalp and hair follicle. A cooling blend of peppermint and spearmint oils reduces scalp itchiness. And tea tree oil has anti-septic and healing properties to reduce scalp irritation and inflammation. Witch Hazel helps normalize oil production, while sodium hyaluronate and aloe keep the scalp balanced and hydrated. Super-vitamin biotin provides essential nutrients to the hair follicle to support healthy hair growth.
Give your scalp a deep cleanse with this grime-absorbing treatment that gets rid of toxins and buildup while locking in moisture, leaving hair smooth, shiny and silky. Simply apply to clean, wet hair and comb through completely. Leave in for up to 7 minutes. Rinse thoroughly.
Add Volume to Hair
Our hair can hold about 4 percent of its own weight in build-up from products, oils, pollution and all that can leave hair looking flat and drab. Regular shampoos cannot remove this build up. But an activated charcoal shampoo will do the trick, leaving the hair feeling lighter and looking more voluminous.
As mentioned, dirt, oil and product buildup can lead to limp and lifeless locks. This purifying shampoo with activated charcoal rids hair and scalp of grime, while coconut oil controls frizz and adds shine.
Remove Toxins from Hair
All hair products – shampoos, conditioners, hair serums, sprays and colors all build up on the hair cuticle over time. A shampoo with activated charcoal, used once a week, will gently cleanse and detox the hair, leaving healthy and conditioned.
Herbal Essences Detox Shampoo with Black Charcoal and Herbal Essences Replenish Conditioner with White Charcoal
- Black Charcoal Shampoo detoxes hair to gently remove buildup
- White Charcoal Conditioner gently restores hair’s natural softness and helps revive volume
- Crafted with a blend of active antioxidants, aloe and sea kelp, to bring hair back to life
- Color-safe and pH-balanced formula made with no parabens, no silicones, no gluten, no mineral oil and no dyes