Wait… Isn’t charcoal a substance that makes your weekend picnic tasty with BBQ? So what's the point of including it in your skincare routine then? Well… it does not really help you only with BBQ!! The form of charcoal that is in your product is the activated form of charcoal which is totally different than you might think! Okay, let’s dive into what this black secret is in cosmetic products.
Activated charcoal is made by processing a high-carbon-content material such as wood, coconut shell or even sugar at very high temperatures to remove most of the water it contains and then “activating” it with steam or hot air. This process increases the material’s surface area and pores, so it becomes to be able to trap anything coming in contact with it. So this ability isn’t much like a “magnet for dirt”, instead it is much like chewed chewing gum or sticky tape for dirt.
Thanks to its increased pores, it provides abrasive and adsorptive properties. So, given its general detoxification properties, there is no doubt to see “Activated charcoal” in soaps, cleansing lotions and gels, face masks, face scrubs, exfoliants, facial wipes, moisturizers, toners and even toothpaste.
Alright, at this point do you expect these types of products containing activated charcoal will promote your skincare routine in removing impurities and deep cleansing, soaking up excess oil, clearing blemishes and acne, reducing the appearance of pores, and brightening skin/teeth? Well, there are a few studies, even little to no, that show activated charcoal ensures several benefits for your skin. But no research has been done on humans to test these statements. The risks are unknown. Especially thinking about whether it only traps “dirt and excessive oil”, unfortunately, it is not known its impact on skin microbiota either. Unlike its approved use when activated charcoal is taken orally as a treatment for some swallowed poisons, it is better to approach it with precaution for other uses. On the other hand, still… if it soaks up all sorts of things, including nutrients like vitamins, resulting in you don’t get the full health benefits of your food. Therefore, detoxifying your body and skin with activated charcoal is something that you should be careful about. It is important not to take activated charcoal internally unless there is a doctor's recommendation. In addition, If you are eager to give this black secret in your skincare product a try, it is usually safe to do so unless the product irritates you.
MediLexicon International. (n.d.). Activated charcoal benefits for your skin. Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/activated-charcoal-benefits-for-skin
Sanchez, N., Fayne, R., & Burroway, B. (2020). Charcoal: An ancient material with a new face. Clinics in Dermatology, 38(2), 262–264. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clindermatol.2019.07.025
Atmanto, D., & Ambarwati, N. S. (2021). Application of activated charcoal from coconut shell waste for the manufacture of skin lightening creams and the mechanism of the process. THE 2ND SCIENCE AND MATHEMATICS INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE (SMIC 2020): Transforming Research and Education of Science and Mathematics in the Digital Age. https://doi.org/10.1063/5.0044371
Shukla, P., Tiwari, S., Singh, S., & Yadav, A. (2019). Formulation and evaluation of activated charcoal peel off mask. International Journal of Pharmacy Research & Technology, 9(2). https://doi.org/10.31838/ijprt/09.02.06
Sajjad, M., Sarwar, R., Ali, T., Khan, L., & Mahmood, S. U. (2021). Cosmetic uses of activated charcoal. International Journal Of Community Medicine And Public Health, 8(9), 4572. https://doi.org/10.18203/2394-6040.ijcmph20213569