Once upon a time, charcoal and beauty were two words you’d never put together, but these days you’ll find charcoal cropping up in all sorts of places, the main one being people’s beauty regimes.
Within the beauty scene, there are charcoal products aplenty – charcoal face masks, toothpaste, dental floss, soap and body wash, shampoos and conditioners, plasters (yes, plasters) and much, much more.
But how did charcoal get to be such a popular beauty ingredient? What does it actually do? And what are the key things you ought to know before popping it on your face, body or in your mouth?
Consider this article your beauty charcoal SOS. By the end, you’ll know all there is to know about one trending beauty product in particular, charcoal beauty masks. Keep reading to find out the best masks to buy and how to apply them, as well as lots of useful tips and insight.
Are charcoal masks good for your skin?
Well, it’s the activated charcoal, the main ingredient in charcoal face masks, that’s believed to be able to do a whole load of good for our skin.1
Now, ‘for the science bit’….
Activated charcoal is created by exposing charcoal to a high heat. When this happens, tiny gaps and holes open up within the charcoal, making it extremely absorbent.
Just one thing before we move on…in case you were wondering, activated charcoal isn’t the same charcoal you use to get your barbecue going, it’s a totally different thing, so you can leave your bags of BBQ charcoal safely where they are!
Activated charcoal’s ability to draw out impurities from the skin means it can potentially help in a few ways. (Note – there’s currently limited scientific evidence to back up the widely talked-about impact of using charcoal beauty products).
Charcoal face mask benefits
So, what can a charcoal face mask actually help with? Find out:2
Benefit 1: Rid the skin of impurities
Activated charcoal can reportedly work wonders at drawing out impurities like trapped dirt from the skin. Because of this, using a charcoal face mask can potentially help clear skin.
Benefit 2: Help prevent skin flare-ups
Most flare-ups are caused by pores getting all clogged up with dead skin cells, excess oil etc. and then developing into a spot or an area that feels delicate, sore or red. Activated charcoal has cleansing properties and its impurity-absorbing powers means it can possibly lead to a clearer complexion.
Benefit 3: Tackle insect bites
Some bites and stings can leave us feeling itchy and possibly lead to swelling and rashes, depending on if whatever we’ve encountered has left some impurities behind. Applying activated charcoal on the sting or bite can help draw the impurities out of the skin and neutralise the area.
Are there any downsides to using charcoal face masks?
Charcoal face masks are available in various different forms, all of which you should use in accordance with the recommended guidance. Don’t be tempted to use them more frequently than instructed, as this can aggravate your skin and leave it feeling sore and looking red. Also don’t leave them on for longer than necessary either, no matter how keen you are to see results!
If you’re planning on using a charcoal peel off face mask, it’s worth knowing that continued use of them could possibly harm the skin’s natural barrier because of their adhesive qualities. Again, if the idea of using a peel is something you quite like the sound of, always follow the instructions on the back; they’re there for a reason. Another FYI – charcoal exfoliators are seen as being a more gentle alternative to face mask peels.3
How do you apply charcoal face masks?
As with all beauty products, make sure you check the instructions before applying a charcoal face mask, which usually involves:4
- Cleansing your skin beforehand
- Applying the mask evenly over your face, including your forehead, cheeks, nose and chin
- Massaging (gently) the mask into your skin, using your fingertips or a soft bristled brush
- Letting the mask dry on your skin for the recommended time
- Rinsing it off with warm water
- Drying (gently) your face and applying a facial moisturiser
Which charcoal face mask is best?
Here’s our pick of the best charcoal face masks, as highly rated by our customers:
Customer rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars
This purifying mask is infused with willow bark extract and charcoal to provide a deep cleansing treatment. Dermatologically tested, it contains natural AHAs and salicylic acid, helping to exfoliate while promoting the quality of the skin and complexion.
‘This mask brings out all the excess oils from the skin and leaves it feeling soft and fresh. Brightens and improves skin texture.’ – Khannam.
Customer rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars
This single-use mask is formulated with charcoal and salicylic acid to cleanse and rid skin of nasty impurities while helping to keep it clear.
‘Love buying their face masks as a treat for myself!! Think I’ll be buying one every few weeks, fab results!’ – Zareena1992.
Customer rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars
Dr Organic Charcoal Face Mask has been specifically developed to help combat urban stress and pollution. Containing activated charcoal and bioactive and organic extracts, such as aloe vera juice and China clay, this mask helps to leave the skin feeling fresh and energised.
‘I don’t normally write reviews, but I have been trying to remember to use this once a week for around 18 months now and I really notice when I don’t use it. I definitely think using it once a week gives my pores a good clear out and my skin feels amazingly soft afterwards.’ – Superstarpony.
Last updated: 4 December 2020