Have you heard about charcoal masks? They look great in Instagram pictures, but are there any real benefits to smearing black carbon across your face? Well… actually, yes. Activated charcoal, and charcoal face masks, can be a great skin care step for more radiant-looking skin. This is especially true when used properly and in combination with more powerful skin care products.
What Makes Charcoal Face Masks So Special?
To begin with, it’s important to note that the “activated charcoal” found in skin care is not the same as the charcoal you use on a grill.
Because of the way that it’s processed, activated charcoal (a.k.a. activated carbon) is more porous than regular charcoal.
And, the more porous something is, the better it will absorb things.
That’s why activated charcoal has become so well known for absorbing toxins.1
In fact, because activated charcoal has the ability to bind substances to its surface, it’s often used in water filters, air filters, and emergency rooms – for drawing out serious toxins.2Because of this, the skin care market has jumped at the idea of using activated charcoal as a detox mask for the face.
Can Charcoal Masks Help Maintain Skin Health?
Whether or not a charcoal mask is able to completely detoxify your skin is still up for debate. But in the meantime, here are some other great things that it may do for your skin:
- Support healthy, clean-looking pores.
- Help fight blemishes.
- Leave you with a cleaner, clearer, more radiant-looking complexion.3,4
When used alongside other skin care products, activated charcoal masks can support skin health and appearance.
Avoid Charcoal Peel-Off Masks
Somehow, someone started a trend of combining activated charcoal powder with PVA glue. The idea being that together these two ingredients will work to strip the dirt and grime hidden in your pores. Please don’t use these masks on your delicate facial skin.
- Using wood glue on sensitive facial skin is a terrible idea for obvious reasons.
- Charcoal itself is beneficial for skin, but you don’t want to add skin-damaging glue.
- If you have even a little fine facial hair (everyone does) this is going to hurt and cause redness and irritation. You’re essentially giving yourself an unintentional facial wax.
These peel-off charcoal facial masks are a potential nightmare for your skin. There are many videos of people getting them stuck on their faces and even losing eyebrows as they struggle to remove them.
These masks can take off an entire protective layer of skin cells, exposing the other layers of skin to bacteria.5
Instead of following the fad, purchase a lush, creamy charcoal mask. Many good ones have a mud-like texture and are mixed with mineral-rich bentonite clay.
Purchasing A Charcoal Mask
When shopping for a charcoal mask, look for one with good, natural ingredients. Bentonite clay, as mentioned, is a great pairing with charcoal. So is dead sea salt, which also ups the mineral benefits.
You may also find charcoal masks containing green tea, witch hazel, or glycolic acid. Alpha hydroxy acids like glycolic acid are great for gently exfoliating the skin.
How To Apply A Charcoal Mask
1. Wash your face with warm water to help open up your pores. You can leave a warm, damp cloth over your face for a few minutes if you have the time. You want your skin to be slightly damp. Don’t apply a mask to clean dry skin.
2. Gently smooth the purifying charcoal mask across your face and over your nose, avoiding your eyes and mouth.
3. Leave the mask on for about 10 minutes, or until it’s just starting to dry. Don’t ever let any mask set completely. It’s far too drying for the skin.
4. Gently remove the mask by rinsing thoroughly with warm water, or remove it using your favorite facial cleanser. Don’t scrub at the mask. It should come off easily.
5. Moisturize your skin with your favorite face serum, oil, or cream to keep your skin hydrated. You can also boost moisture with jojoba oil or aloe vera. Both contain powerful antioxidants. Jojoba oil is naturally rich in skin-nourishing vitamin E.6
Make Your Own DIY Charcoal Mask
You can also make your own charcoal masks at home. Here’s a simple recipe that you can make and store in a glass jar. You can buy activated charcoal and bentonite clay online. Make sure to choose activated charcoal that’s 100% charcoal.
By the way, charcoal can get a little messy, so don’t use your best white bathroom towels with a charcoal mask.
- 2 tablespoons activated charcoal powder
- 1/2 cup bentonite clay
- 1/4 cup avocado oil
- A few drops of your favorite essential oils if you’d like some fragrance
- Mix the charcoal and clay together with a wooden spoon in a non-metal bowl.
- Stir in the avocado oil.
- Add water until desired consistency is reached.
- Apply a warm, wet face cloth to your skin for a few minutes to open pores. Then gently smooth on your mask.
- Let the mask “almost” dry, and then remove it with warm water.
Masking For a Flawless Complexion
Your skin takes a beating from environmental toxins every day. Sometimes it takes a little extra deep cleaning to keep it in check. By adding facial masks to your existing skincare routine, you can help your skin maintain its overall health.
If you’re still unsure about using activated charcoal on your skin, talk to your dermatologist about other products that may be right for your skin type.
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