Is Charcoal Good for Your Skin?
> Is Charcoal Good for Your Skin?
What does activated charcoal do for skin?
It’s natural to think that the last place charcoal belongs to is on your skin. The word itself evokes cookouts, coal trains, and mining. Indeed, it doesn’t invoke “glowing skin” or “smaller pores.”
It’s time to throw these connotations out the window. Enter activated charcoal, the best thing since tea tree oil and retinoids. It’s everywhere: cleaners, masques, scrubs, peels, and toothpaste.
It’s even been added to juices as an anti-toxin. Yet, we still regard it with suspicion. Is charcoal good for your skin? How effective is it?
Today, we’re going to explore these meaty details.
What Is Activated Charcoal?
Activated charcoal is made from materials that are rich in carbon. Such materials, like wood, coconut shells, or even coal, are burned at high temperatures to create a charcoal powder.
It’s also noted for being sharp and jagged, which allows for a significant surface area. It’s estimated that 1 gram of activated charcoal has 3000 square meters of surface area.
That’s the same as 3 Olympic swimming pools.
What is Activated Charcoal Used for and How Does it Work?
This large surface area is useful in soaking up substances. Due to this handy feature, charcoal is utilized in water purification. It’s also used in medicine, especially in treating poisoning.
In these cases, the patient is supplied with a large dose on top of other treatments. Much of the poison then adheres itself to the charcoal, rather than soak up in to the body.
Have you ever wondered why melted candle wax dries into one big clump? Intermolecular forces are the answer. Simply put, they’re interactions that keep molecules intact. Without them, water would be gas, and candle wax would splay everywhere.
Intermolecular force is divided into several types. Every substance out there has dispersion force, whether it’s vitamins or poison. The type that concerns activated charcoal is dispersion force.
The huge surface area leaves activated charcoal vulnerable. There’s a space for things to stick into. Since anything can breed dispersion force, activated charcoal absorbs without discrimination.
This means it’ll even absorb nutrients and vitamins, which can restrict the health benefits available in your food.
Since charcoal is a default treatment for detoxifying, many people think that consuming activated charcoal is a great way to detox skin.
But is charcoal really good for your skin?
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Is Charcoal Really Good for Your Skin?
We’ve talked about how charcoal works and its benefits for health.
However, does it really work for your skin?
From what we gather, charcoal does work for your skin. There are no formal studies to prove its effectiveness. Yet, anecdotal evidence is hugely in charcoal’s favor: for many people, it’s a magic potion.
However, you have to remember that every skin is different.
Why Is Charcoal Good for Skin?
Due to its ability to absorb bacteria and toxins in the body, some skin experts believe that a face mask with charcoal may help draw impurities from the skin.
“What about good bacteria? The kind that protects your skin?” It’s fast-multiplying.
You don’t have to worry about using charcoal regularly.
Why Is Charcoal Bad for Your Skin?
However, you should be cautious. Over-exfoliation causes irritation and inflammation. This could trigger acne, making you more susceptible to sunburn.
You may lose moisture and even interfere with the natural skin barrier. Your barrier is the skin’s outermost layer that protects against external irritants such as bacteria and environmental pollutants. It preserves water and moisture, as it avoids triggering allergic reactions.
It’s also responsible for keeping your skin feeling soft and acting relaxed and safe when it’s intact. One example of a perfectly intact barrier to moisture can be found on a baby. Plump, smooth, soft and radiant to the touch.
Over-exfoliation is one of the leading causes of damaged moisture barrier. When damage is done to the skin’s protective layer, it causes tiny, invisible cracks in the surface. Moisture can quickly escape through such cracks and irritants can enter more quickly.
In that case, your skin has essentially lost its protective bodyguard. It can become tight, dry, and sensitive. To avoid this situation, keep the exfoliation to a minimum.
If you notice your skin growing irritated, stop using charcoal as an exfoliating agent altogether.
What Does Activated Charcoal Do for Your Skin?
There are a lot of benefits of charcoal for the skin.
Activated charcoal powder has been proven to absorb its own mass into harmful substances thousands of times, making it a popular ingredient in facial masks, such as this one from Revive Science.
DETOXIFYING FACE MASK: Works as an all over facial mask or acne spot treatment to help pull out impurities from your pores.
DETOXIFY & REMOVE BLACKHEADS: Helps clear out any excess oil and dirt without over-drying skin.
HYDRATE & CLEANSE: While most masks tend to dry out your skin, Revive Science combines the cleansing power of clays and Activated Charcoal to cleanse to naturally moisturize. & even skin texture.
ACTIVATED CHARCOAL MASK: The perfect detox mask. Perfect for spot treatment, blackhead remover, and light exfoliation.
ALL SKIN TYPES: Ideal for men and women, and all skin types including sensitive, acne-prone, oily and dry.
In fact, the activated charcoal’s antibacterial properties can help to lift bacteria from pores. This may help to reduce acne and improve skin complexion overall.
(Looking for other natural acne solutions? Here’s our post on Tea Tree Oil Brands for Acne.
Activated Charcoal for Acne
We did go over covering up acne with makeup before. What we didn’t mention is how useful charcoal can be in this case.
It only makes sense. Acne is caused by an accumulation of dead skin cells, oil, and bacteria, that get stuck within your skin’s pores. Acne-causing bacteria can cause pimples and other inflammatory lesions, which can lead to inflammation, redness, and swelling.
Activated charcoal can lift off all of that bacteria and leave you with smooth, supple skin. It’s known for its curative qualities, from acne cleaning to digestive aids.
Charcoal products are also non-allergenic and also contain ingredients such as salicylic acid.
This pack of detox wipes from Yes to Tomatoes features 95% natural ingredients for detoxing your face and helping clear it from agents that cause acne.
Blackheads form when the opening of hair follicles in your skin causes a clog or plug to develop. When the gunk inside your pores are exposed to the air, they oxidize and the surface turns black. This results in a blackhead.
Activated charcoal will help remove excess oil and sebum. Products such as peel off masks absorb toxins, dirt, and excess oils from your pores faster than other products when tackling blackheads. This can quickly diminish the appearance of existing blackheads and pimples while preventing the formation of new blackheads on the skin.
A great product is the Vassoul Peel-Off Mask that doubles as a deep facial cleanser for your face and nose.
DEEP FACIAL CLEANSING: Remove acne, blackheads, and blemishes. Help to remove stubborn stain or oil spots on your face.
MULTIPURPOSE: Reduces the effect of computer radiation on the skin, adds vitality to dull and uneven skin, and makes the skin firmer.
YOUNGER AND SMOOTHER SKIN: Moisturize your skin, giving it a wonderful feel. And it can also remove the facial hair on your face to make it very smooth and healthy.
The use of activated charcoal for skin rashes is widely recognized. Whether you’ve been stung by a bee or had an infected cut from the kitchen, activated charcoal will help accelerate the healing and alleviate the symptoms.
For minor skin disorders including bites of insects, stings, wounds, scrapes, and minor infections, activated charcoal can be used. When applied as a paste the activated charcoal helps to absorb venom and infection. Activated charcoal will also ease swelling and alleviate discomfort.
To make an activated charcoal paste, you must:
Add water slowly to a small amount of activated charcoal powder.
Mix until suitable consistency is achieved and then apply.
For first aid options, try this powder from Charcoal House Health.
ACTIVATED CHARCOAL POWDER: A high quality activated charcoal powder made from American Eastern Hardwoods with a high surface area
FOOD-GRADE: completely safe for oral use.
EXTERNAL TREATMENT: Also recommended for use in poultices for the external treatment of localized inflammation, infection and pain, or in baths for a generalized application over a larger body area.
FOR BATHING: Excellent for charcoal baths as the hardwood charcoals rinse off more easily than the coconut shell.
We’ll move on to how activated charcoal benefits different skin types. After all, we don’t just have one single agreeable skin type that any product can work on.
Something to note: it doesn’t matter whether you have oily or normal skin. Allergic breakouts are always possible!
It’s a good idea to test the charcoal product on a small patch of skin on the inside of your elbow before first using a charcoal mask. If you don’t experience any itching or redness in a couple of hours, then use on your skin is likely safe.
Activated Charcoal for Oily Skin
Oily skin occurs when excess oil on the face creates a persistently greasy appearance. This skin type is characterized by enlarged pores, thick complexion, and recurring blemishes. When not treated, pores can get clogged, and dead skin cells can build up.
Theoretically, charcoal should work well on oily skin. It removes excess oil, reduces the occurrence of blackheads, and prevents the development of acne. It also provides a thorough cleaning of your pores, eliminating dirt and bacteria.
This can make it an effective ingredient in blotting sheets, such as this one from boscia.
If you have combination skin, after using a detoxifying cleanser or an activated charcoal mud mask designed for your skin type you should notice a real difference to your T-zone. Your skin will feel less sticky, with fewer breakouts.