Detoxify your skin with activated charcoal


Recently, my skincare routine has changed.
Where I used to have time to do a long, luxurious oil cleansing routine, I now am lucky if I get the chance to hang up my washcloth. (Being a frazzled first-time mom will do that to ya. Or, it’ll do that to me, anyway.)
So lately, I’ve had to trade giving my skin the royal treatment and LOTS of quality time each day for maximum efficiency for the minimum time investment.
This means I’m using all the charcoal.
Activated charcoal is a pretty amazing substance. It binds to toxins and impurities (and those aren’t buzzwords – that’s literally what it does via adsorption) and detoxifies those nasties from the skin.
Yet despite its amazing effectiveness, we don’t often hear about it.
Why? I’m guessing because it’s not patentable and it’s not proprietary and it doesn’t require a lab to synthesize it. Heck, you can even make it yourself if you’re feeling like doing a little home science experiment.
(After the baking soda & vinegar volcano fiasco of 1992, I’m not so sure I’ll take the challenge…)
Using products with activated charcoal – like my choices, which include

…has given me maximum cleansing power in the shortest amount of time. And that’s the name of the game these days.
I have been using the Cleansing Bar twice a day to fight blackheads and my post-partum oily skin, and I add a charcoal mask once each week in the shower (because, if I’m honest, I’m only getting around to that once a week at best) to really dig deep.
I use the Black Peppermint Tooth Powder a few times a week for its tooth-whitening power. (Because, coffee. All day. Mama needs it.)
Why I chose these specific products:
Because the amount of charcoal in a given product, along with its complementary ingredients, is pretty hard to get right.
I’ve used products that way overdid the charcoal, and completely sucked all the moisture from my face. Some of them were impossible to rinse away.
Others mis-managed the “weight” of the final product: when complementary ingredients in a loose charcoal-containing product (like a mask or tooth powder) aren’t chosen correctly, you’ll just get a big puff of black dust in the air.
The worst, though? When charcoal is over-used in tooth products and you get a big old mouthful of black teeth that you just. can’t. rinse. out. Not cute.
Don’t worry. These products won’t do that to ya.
Added benefits of my favorite charcoal products:
The Charcoal Cleansing Bar has majorly improved my blackheads without drying my skin, and the addition of witch hazel helps tone the skin while green tea calms inflammation.
This one nails it for daily use with the perfect amount of charcoal, emollients, and toning and soothing actives. This is THE SKINCARE PRODUCT that sold me on the entire brand (and, not surprisingly, it’s almost always sold out).
The Black Clay Mask from Fig & Yarrow is beautifully simple, and combines the perfect amount of Kaolin and Bentonite clay with activated charcoal to do a major deep clean. (I like using Rose, Calendula, or Lavender hydrosol with it, bought via Aromatics International.)
The Beautycounter Balancing Charcoal Mask is both soothing and exfoliating (a super hard balance to strike) and uses some of my favorite high-tech scienc-y actives like allantoin, lactic and salicylic acids, and green tea.
The Black Peppermint Tooth Powder from Primal Life Organics uses charcoal along with ingredients like baking soda for freshness and French green clay for added minerals.
And if you’re game for DIY, check out these options:

Here’s to really (REALLY) detoxing your skin with activated charcoal!

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22 Responses

  1. If the charcoal cleansing bar just isn’t showing up on the Beautycounter website, does that mean it has sold out again? I wish it would show that on there. 🙂

  2. “Activated charcoal is something found at health food stores that people with IBS take, or other GI issues. From my understanding, it is very good at absorbing a lot of the toxins.
    I’m assuming charcoal in skincare products would do similar things.

    1. I do think sometimes these products can be slightly drying, but for me the benefits are so worthwhile that I’d probably just adjust frequency of use and be sure to really nourish with moisturizing oils plus, possibly, a water-based moisturizer on top of that.

  3. I just bought the charcoal bar! I’m excited to try it out. Thanks for sharing. I’m also going to try the Dew Tint moisturizer… I don’t wear any kind of foundation, but it would be nice to have for more special or business occasions.

  4. Hi Liz!! 2 questions: Would the charcoal bar be suitable for rosacea/oily skin? Completely unrelated question: Can I use old oils for skin care? I have some walnut oil that’s been in my kitchen cabinet for around 2 years. I’m sure it’s oxidized, so i dont want to eat it. Would it still be o.k. to use as part of a lotion? Thanks!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Yes, it definitely would Kelly! It has green tea which is very soothing. I actually think, though, that you might want to look in to topical niacinamide for rosacea. It can be really effective! As far as old oils, if it smells musty, I’d definitely ditch it 🙁

  5. Hi Liz!
    I’ve been dying to try the charcoal bar! I actually own it, just haven’t used it yet because I have been dealing with lots of breakouts just this past year (I’m 23), and tend to break out with coconut oil and coconut oil-containing products. Should I avoid using it or do you think it will be ok? Same goes for their sunscreen stick actually…
    Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Katie! It really depends on the nature and degree of your sensitivity! Are you sensitive to the oil in any form, or are you OK with it if it’s saponified? You might just have to spot test, unfortunately :/ I know that’s not super helpful.

  6. Hey Liz!
    Thanks for spreading the word about the charcoal cleansing bar! It worked great! I just went to order my second bar by clicking on the hyperlink in your blog above and when it brought me to the beauty counter site it said my consultant was Alexis Wolfe…just wanted to inquire if this was intentional or if there was something up with the site.

    1. Aww, I love you for checking on this! Alexis is my mom, and she, me, and my sister all work on the same “team.” Sometimes I will pop up, sometimes them, but it’s all of us doing this together. I made them come on board with me! It has been so fun working together.

    1. I use it all over, but it’s intended for the face! (It’s expensive, so I see why a lot of people wouldn’t want to use it all over)

  7. I just wanted to say that I’ve been actually taking an active charcoal supplement for some time. I’ve done this because along with Red Clover it helps to alleviate the symptoms of hot flashes and night sweats.

  8. I have been using the charcoal bar (am&pm) and the BC essentials day/night moisturizers for almost two weeks and I have noticed little bumps on my face. They have seem to gone down since last week, but burn while I’m sweating. Is there a moisterizer you suggest using after using the charcoal bar? Not sure if it’s my face detoxing or if I’m having a reaction to one of the products.. any suggestions ?

    1. Hi Peta! I personally love oil-based moisturizers, and that could be as simple as jojoba oil or as fancy as one of BC’s oils. But if your skin isn’t responding well, don’t feel like you have to press on. NO one thing works for everyone. If I’ve learned anything in the last 5+ years of helping people with their skincare, that’s it! Perhaps just using the bar once a day and using a cream or oil-based cleanser the other time? Feel free to shoot me an email if I’m your BC rep and we can get you sorted out!

  9. Hi Liz,
    I’ve always wanted to try a toothpaste with activated charcoal on it. I have yellowish teeth thanks to coffee and motherhood haha. I’m kinda hesitant because I read somewhere that using teeth whiteners can actually make your teeth extra sensitive and can be a problem since I am a big hot coffee drinker. Please tell me your thoughts about this. Thanks for the great tips!

    1. I think a lot of conventional whiteners can worsen sensitivity – that was my experience! But I can’t imagine that activated charcoal would be capable of this. Especially in a tooth powder like Primal Life Organics, for example, which also uses clays that can help remineralize teeth – their tooth powder has AMAZING reviews from people with sensitivity!

  10. Hi Liz, thanks for your reply. I recently bought Twin Lotus toothpaste with activated charcoal. No drastic change yet but I don’t think it’s making my teeth extra sensitive. I’m keeping my hopes high on this. Thanks for your advise! 🙂

  11. I absolutely LOVE activated charcoal! Its benefits are amazing. However, some of the brands I have tried dry out my skin very badly. I have combination and sensitive skin which causes me to have to have a good moisture balance. I will be trying the charcoal cleansing bar.

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