Benefits of activated charcoal in skincare

Activated charcoal is a popular ingredient in cosmetics and toiletries. I have previously written about activated charcoal here. But now I started to write a new article about it. I would like to remind you how good detox it really is. Especially now when the spring sun starts to shine, the skin needs effective deep cleansing. Therefore, it is advisable to clean the dust off from your activated charcoal box again and make a very simple but effective detox face mask.


What is the difference between activated charcoal and charcoal used for barbeques?

Activated charcoal and Barbecue charcoal look quite similar. Both products are black and feel the same when touched. Barbecue charcoal is made by cooking wood in low oxygen owen. When all the organic material has been burnt, black charcoal remains. Activated charcoal is a highly refined charcoal with specific properties. Activated charcoal is processed from ordinary coal at very hot temperatures by using a complex chemical process. Ready activated charcoal is a completely pure product with no chemical residues.

During the chemical process, the properties of the charcoal change. It becomes particularly porous. Thanks to the pores, the surface of the charcoal grows enormously. One gram of activated charcoal is equivalent to about 500-32,000 square meters, depending on the quality of the activated charcoal. Activated charcoal can absorb harmful substances thousands of times its own weight. Ordinary charcoal cannot do this.

How activated charcoal works

Activated charcoal absorbs certain drugs, phenols, alkaloids, pigments and some heavy metals (at least cadmium, copper, nickel and lead) from everything it comes in direct contact with. Skin is exposed to heavy metals due to air pollution.

Activated charcoal is unable to absorb substances that have already been absorbed deeper into the skin. It can work only when it is in direct contact with the substance.

How to make activated charcoal?

Activated charcoal is made from ordinary charcoal obtained by burning wood, coconut shells or peat. The cosmetic industry generally uses activated charcoal made from coconut shells. Activated charcoal from birch is also used in cosmetics in Finland.

Activated charcoal in cosmetics

Activated charcoal has been used in cosmetics for some time. Activated charcoal is known for whitening toothpastes. The effectiveness of activated charcoal toothpaste is based on its ability to absorb colour pigments. Coffee, tea and red wine stains on teeth can safely be removed by active charcoal.

Activated charcoal is also added to face masks today. The idea is to clean the surface of the skin from impurities and heavy metals. Activated charcoal’s function is to cleanse the skin. It cannot be absorbed into the skin but only works on the surface of the skin. Therefore, all that is absorbed deeper into the skin remains firmly in the skin.

There are some activated charcoal soaps for sale. I also have got one. Activated charcoal soaps can be used as a face soap to remove impurities or as a hand soap to remove odours and discoloration. As a face soap, activated charcoal removes toxins from the skin and cleanses the skin. If the surrounding air is heavily polluted, activated charcoal soap is a convenient way to clean up the air pollutants accumulated on the skin surface during the day.

Dis advantages of activated charcoal


The ordinary charcoal has been used in cosmetics for thousands of years. The history of activated charcoal is shorter. It is a complex chemical product, not a natural cosmetic ingredient. Although activated charcoal is a very pure product and does not contain toxic ingredients, there are a few things to keep in mind when using it

  • Activated charcoal cannot separate good and bad substances. It absorbs everything it can, without distinguishing anything. Activated charcoal can also absorb the necessary vitamins and other organic substances from the skin and body. Activated charcoal also attracts bacteria from the skin. At the same time, both good and bad bacteria go. Activated charcoal cannot separate them.
  • Activated charcoal is not a poison magnet. It cannot function unless it is in direct contact with the substance it is mentioned to absorb.
  • Be careful: avoid any contact with eyes. It is a drying agent that causes eye irritation and bothers for a long time. In case that happens, rinse cautiously with water for several minutes. In case the irritation is still there, go immediately to see a doctor.
  • The use of activated charcoal is quite a mess. You should avoid white towels and light clothing when dealing with activated charcoal.
  • The benefits of activated charcoal
  • Activated charcoal is very well tolerated. It does not contain any allergenic ingredients or toxic chemicals.
  • Activated charcoal is very effective at removing discoloration from the skin and bad odours (fish, onion etc) from hands.
  • Activated charcoal brightens the skin. Especially if your skin is very oily and bacterial activity is very high, an activated charcoal mask is effective.
  • Activated charcoal mask reduces pores and soothes skin function.
  • Activated charcoal is an easy-to-use ingredient. You can add a small touch of activated charcoal to any product without sacrificing its structure. Please remember: no eye contact!

How do I use activated charcoal in cosmetics?

Activated charcoal should only be used occasionally and only for a specific need. Its daily use is not justified.

Make your own homemade activated charcoal masks.

You can add a bit of activated charcoal to your face mask if you want to clean and brighten your skin properly.

There is no point to add any ingredient mentioned to be absorbed to the skin to your active charcoal mask. The purpose of activated charcoal is to pull substances out of the skin. Then you should not add anything you would like to be absorbed into the skin. The ingredients to be absorbed into the skin are wasted and at the same time the function of activated charcoal is less effective.

The water-charcoal mixture is the perfect mask

I mix a small amount of pure water with activated charcoal and apply it on the face for about 30-40 minutes.

Wash the mask off with double cleaning; Apply the oil cleansing over the activated charcoal mask and gently rub your face. Then wash your face with gentle face soap. I do not usually prefer soap for face cleansing. This is an exception because the activated charcoal mask is otherwise really difficult to remove. Based on my own experience, this is the best detox mask.

Remarks on the use of activated charcoal

Activated charcoal is really effective, all the time. It really is active and absorbs material from its surroundings all the time. Therefore, it is advisable to keep the activated charcoal box very tightly closed. Impurities in the air will weaken activated charcoal if stored in an open box.

Activated charcoal can very easily spoil your white clothes. So, when dealing with activated charcoal, you better wear dark clothes and dark towels.

Activated charcoal divides opinions


The best detox mask is made from activated charcoal and few drops of water – I would say

Activated charcoal is an interesting ingredient in cosmetics. It is not a natural ingredient, but a factory-made refined product.

As a cosmetic ingredient, activated charcoal has not been researched enough. Therefore, many consider activated charcoal to be completely ineffective. It is not considered capable of deep cleansing of skin from harmful impurities. At least there is no scientific evidence.

Personally, I do not agree. I have been using activated charcoal masks and found it to be even more effective detox product than clay. Activated charcoal dries my skin less than many clays.

You can well combine activated charcoal with natural clays. They act on the skin in the same way, attracting the skin’s impurities and toxins.

Have you used active charcoal in cosmetics?

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