What’s the deal with activated charcoal?
Don’t you feel like you woke up one day and EVERYONE was like “AHHH Charcoal!”… ?
I do. What is “activated charcoal” anyway?
(Let’s pause for a quick vocabulary lesson: “activated” just means it has at one point been heated to up its absorption benefits.)
As with many beauty fads, I didn’t pay that much attention at first. Until I voiced my many skin woes on social media (as I often do) and my friend Gianna told me that activated charcoal was the answer.
And then I went to Sephora and every brand and their mom had a charcoal product. So, I decided to try out the Origins’ “Clear Improvement” Activated Charcoal Mask. (Fine. You win, Sephora. Here is more of my money.)
This is what I discovered.
Clogged Pores No More
Charcoal is the enemy of clogged pores. I actually really hate that term, “clogged pores.” It’s pretty gross, right? Ew. Luckily, charcoal masks totally obliterate them so you don’t have to talk about them out loud anymore.
So how does it work? Charcoal is basically a magnet for the toxins your skin soaks up from the air around you. It gets down deep in your skin and sucks them all up, leaving your pores feeling free as a bird. I never believe claims like this, until I tried it for myself.
(I retract my statement. I’m now a believer.)
It’s also worth noting that in other forms, activated charcoal is also used to treat poison ingestion, cure hangovers (hmmm), treat insect bites, purify water (yep, that’s why you see weird specks in the top of your Brita) and even whiten teeth, by binding to toxins and chemicals and absorbing them.
(Now that you know this, doesn’t it make so much more sense to slather it all over your face?)
I loved the way the charcoal mask made my skin more even. This is, clearly, (ha!), a result of my pores ridding themselves of the dirty Chicago toxins it had contracted. My skin is usually pretty uneven, and I noticed I had to use less concealer and foundation than normal after I incorporated this little secret weapon into my beauty routine.
Time is money
The longer you let the charcoal sit on your skin, the better. (Within reason, of course.) The longer it sits, the more work it can do.
From my road test, I can confidently say that charcoal masks go a long way in preventing new breakouts, and clearing existing ones.
Bang for your Buck
If you’re hesitant to try out the latest charcoal craze because of the product price tag, rest assured–a little bit goes a LONG way with this product. You’ll get a lot of bang for your buck, making it totally worth the cost. Plus, you don’t need to use it that often. Once a week is all you need to see it’s benefits, though I’ve been using it a few times a week for faster results. There are some really great budget-friendly alternatives, too! (See below.)
Other products to try:
Boscia is another popular brand who has claimed a huge stake in the charcoal biz. They’ve got a long line of best sellers and are basically synonymous with all things charcoal–I’m dying to try their charcoal cleansing sponge (also below) and I also really love the idea of their cleansing stick treatment–which is less messy than a regular face wash and much easier to travel with!
Clinique is one of my all-time favorite beauty brands. It’s what I grew up on–my mother has always used their makeup and skincare products for as along as I can remember, and I’m no different. I’ve never met a Clinique product I didn’t love, so it didn’t surprise me to see Clinique’s charcoal mask got rave reviews. They also have a charcoal face wash for men, if your guy is in need of a skin detox.
Yes To (Carrots? Cucumbers? Blueberries? Tomatoes?) is one of my favorite drugstore brands–they’re quality products at great prices, so I was excited to see they offer a charcoal bar. Another budget-friendly option, sold at Ulta, is Freeman’s Charcoal and Black Sugar mask–it’ll only set you back about $5!
Shop them all: