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NOW READING If You’re Oily or Acne-Prone, Why You Need to Get Charcoal Into Your Routine RN
January 28, 2019

If You’re Oily or Acne-Prone, Why You Need to Get Charcoal Into Your Routine RN

Charcoal may be the trendiest ingredient in the wellness world right now, in everything from juices to toothpaste (hello, inky teeth!), but where charcoal may really do some good is on your skin. After all, it’s natural, it acts like a vacuum for impurities, and hey, its cool black hue adds a little fun to your routine. Learn why charcoal skincare may be the missing ingredient in your routine.


There are a lot of hot ingredients going around in the stratosphere — donkey milk, Centella asiatica, hyaluronic acid, squalane oil. But the one I want to talk about today is charcoal.


The first thing that comes to mind when I think of charcoal is the Fourth of July — charred hot dogs on the grill, hamburgers with pickles and ketchup, the smoky scent of grilled food in the air.


As you can tell, I might be a little hungry. But today we’re gonna focus on charcoal skincare.


charcoal skincare


For centuries, charcoal has been used by the Chinese, Indians, Koreans, and Japanese to treat and heal wounds, upset stomachs, and nausea. Personally, I always kept activated charcoal tablets on deck while I was traveling, in case I got hit with a stomach bug. But in skincare, charcoal is used for its purported ability to attract and lift impurities like dirt, oil, and dead skin cells, lifting them from clogged pores.


What is charcoal?


Charcoal is wood burned by heating it at crazy high temperatures in a chamber with extremely low oxygen. By doing this, the tar, methane, and hydrogen are removed from the wood, leaving behind the small, black squares we refer to as charcoal. To make the activated charcoal that is popular in our skincare, that charcoal is steamed, which creates a super permeable form of carbon, making it an impurity-binding super ingredient. Wheee science!


charcoal skincare
Unsplash/Almos Bechtold


What are charcoal’s benefits?


Charcoal skincare is especially helpful for those of us with oily, blemish- and acne-prone skin. Why? Well, for starters, it’s been claimed that charcoal can absorb 1,000 to 2,000 times its weight in gross stuff, which makes it the perfect skincare ingredient for those of us whose pores get clogged at the mere thought of oil.


Masks (both sheet and wash-off) and cleansers are the most popular forms of skincare products that contain charcoal. Charcoal needs to be washed off. Leave it on too long and all of that powerful absorbing power can actually cause some harmful effects, like ultra-dry skin and even more oil production.


charcoal skincare


You can even brush your teeth with activated charcoal — apparently it makes your teeth hella white, which is a mood.


Where can you find charcoal in skincare?


One of my favorite all-time favorite charcoal products was the super limited edition Su:m37 Charcoal Cleansing Stick. Yeah. Su:m37, for ONE season, ran a special where you could get a Christmas gift set with the Rose Cleansing Stick that came with the Charcoal Cleansing Stick. And that cleansing stick was the most amazing thing that has ever happened. A lot of charcoal products are a tad bit too drying for me, but this one was perfect. SIGH.


charcoal skincare


But let’s talk about things you can actually buy. The Snou Beauty Charcoal Deep Cleanser is another great charcoal-based cleanser that is actually really gentle and hydrating. Centella, green tea, and licorice root extract provide some ultra-nourishing and brightening effects.

charcoal skincare


The AprilSkin Signature Black Soap is a charcoal skincare product that started to go “viral” when I lived in Korea. I know it’s a bit antiquated, but bar soap is really my jam. It makes the most LUXURIOUS lather. It’s so foamy and creamy, and this one has all sorts of naturally derived oils to soothe. Swoon.


charcoal skincare


For sheet masks with with charcoal, try Leaders Daily Wonders Detox and Chill mask or Klairs Midnight Blue Calming Sheet Mask, which contains bamboo charcoal powder, is so calming, and is great for oily skin types.


Have you used a charcoal skincare product? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!



Sheryll Donerson got her start as a beauty writer by writing K-beauty reviews for her blog, The Wanderlust Project. These days, she's lifting heavy weights, eating tacos, drinking (too much) coffee and is 1/4 of the beauty podcast, Beauty Beyond Basics (or Triple Bees for short). You can find her on Instagram and Twitter at @sheryllrenata.




I feel like charcoal is a staple ingredient - I've been using charcoal products for years! I really enjoy charcoal wash off masks.


ooooh which ones do you like?!


I like the stupid white tub GlamGlow...but I REFUSE to buy it as the price is ASTRONOMICAL - I just snap up mini tubes whenever I can!


...and also the innisfree one! :)