If you’re at all interested in skincare, there’s a good chance you will have noticed the bewildering array of charcoal skincare products on offer. To help you make informed decisions about the best way to look after your skin, we thought it a good idea to run through some of the main benefits of charcoal for skin and to explain why this substance is so good for your face and body.
What is Charcoal for Skin?
Traditionally, charcoal has been used as fuel. It is made by burning carbon-based substances, such as peat, coal, or wood, in the absence of oxygen. This process results in a carbon residue that burns cleanly and at a high temperature – largely because water and other impurities are eliminated when the charcoal is made.
Everyone that’s ever had a barbeque knows what a great fuel it is, but what’s less known is that charcoal has been used medicinally for much of human history. And it’s now a common ingredient in many skincare products, including face soaps, exfoliators and masks.
With skincare products, you’ll often encounter the term ‘activated charcoal.’ This simply means that the charcoal has been treated to make it more absorbent and better suited to tackling oily skin.
Is Charcoal Good for Skin?
We’re often asked what does charcoal do for your skin? In general, charcoal is supposed to absorb toxins, cleanse and purify the skin, and help treat oily skin.
However, the answer largely depends on your skin type. Below, we run through a few of the benefits of charcoal for skin, for each of the different skin types.
Charcoal is considered a real skincare super-ingredient for those with oily skin. This is particularly true when it comes to products that contain activated charcoal. The benefits of charcoal on oily skin include:
- The chemical structure of activated charcoal makes it remarkably absorbent, letting it soak up excess facial oils
- Reduces the appearance of blackheads
- Prevents new acne from emerging
If you want to give charcoal a try but are worried about your sensitive skin, there’s some good news – charcoal is an excellent ingredient for those prone to irritation. This is because charcoal is inert, meaning it does not react with other substances and does not cause allergic reactions. That said, it’s always a good idea to check your skincare products for other ingredients that may prompt an adverse reaction.
Not everyone has either oily or dry skin. Some people have both. If you have some areas of the face that are a little oily and others that are super dry, you have what’s known as ‘combination skin.’ The benefits of charcoal for this type of skin include:
- Charcoal is excellent at tackling oily patches in the T-zone – the T-shaped area that includes the forehead, nose and chin.
- Charcoal use can be localised, so it’s easy to apply to oily areas while avoiding those parts of the face that are usually a little dry.
If you’re lucky enough to enjoy ‘normal skin’ – that’s skin that’s neither dry nor oily – charcoal can still play a significant role in your skincare routine. It’s detoxifying, and cleansing properties ensure it’s a popular ingredient in freshening products, such as face wipes or sponges. It’s also a great addition to your skincare collection if you’re concerned about the effect pollution or atmospheric toxins can have on your skin.
The principal benefits of charcoal are its ability to absorb oils and cleanse the pores of impurities. While the former isn’t what you want if you have dry skin, you may still want to use charcoal to help with the latter.
Fortunately, a range of charcoal products has been developed specifically for those with dry skin. Just look out for skincare products that include a moisturising ingredient and make sure you finish your skincare routine by moisturising.
We would highly recommend the Warming Charcoal Detox Wash if you’re looking for something that moisturises and refreshes, while also removing oils.