Charcoal is having a moment right now, and you’re probably seeing it everywhere: charcoal ice cream, charcoal waffles, charcoal toothpaste, and most popular, charcoal face masks. If you’ve been turned off by the culinary trend of black food, and you’re skeptical of the benefits of charcoal, you’re probably wondering, “what’s all the fuss about?”
History of Charcoal
You may not realize it, but activated charcoal is used in many everyday items. The compost pails that people use in their kitchens have charcoal filters in the lid to prevent bacteria and odors from escaping. Charcoal is also a component in many water filtration and purification systems.
Activated charcoal is used in another type of face mask, too: filtering face masks to protect people in industrial settings, hospitals and research labs. The charcoal blocks out harmful solvents, paint fumes, pesticides and other toxins.
Charcoal has been used for thousands of years for its medical properties. Hospital emergency rooms give activated charcoal to patients with drug overdoses or other types of poisoning. It is also used in poultices and wound dressings for its ability to draw out impurities.
What Is Activated Charcoal and What Does It Do?
Now that we’ve established its ancient history and many practical uses, that begs the question, “why?” What properties make charcoal useful or beneficial for skincare? In this case, we’re talking about activated charcoal, to distinguish it from the charcoal that is used as briquettes in household barbecues.
Activated charcoal is a fine black powder derived from burning substances like coal, bamboo or coconut shells at very high temperatures. The high heat “activates” charcoal, altering its molecular structure to make it more porous. Most beneficial to us, the process of activating charcoal increases its adsorption. Adsorption refers to a substance’s ability to attract and hang onto another substance. Think of activated charcoal like a spider’s web: It attracts chemicals, toxins and impurities that stick to its surface, preventing them from being absorbed by our bodies. The good stuff gets through the holes in the web (charcoal doesn’t soak up everything.) Even better: We do not digest or absorb charcoal into our bloodstream.
Charcoal in Face Masks
On the surface of our skin, charcoal has the same purifying and detoxifying benefits that it does inside our bodies. In face masks, charcoal is used to draw impurities from the skin, which makes it popular for those with acne. It also works as a gentle exfoliator, because it removes dead skin cells. The exfoliating and detoxifying benefits of charcoal leave the skin visibly brighter, so it’s beneficial for more than just the treatment of acne. Read more about different mask options in our article 7 Types of Face Masks Compared – Learn Why Sheet Masks are Best.
Different Types of Charcoal Face Masks
Charcoal is used in a few primary types of face masks:
- Sheet Masks
- Cream Masks
- Charcoal & Clay Detoxifying Masks
- Peel-Off Masks
Charcoal Sheet Masks
Charcoal sheet masks serve a dual purpose. Sheet masks are typically used for hydration, but the addition of charcoal gives them a detoxifying benefit as well. If you have dry skin, and other types of charcoal masks are too drying for you, sheet masks are a great alternative. Even those with oily complexions need a dose of hydration at times. Relying on exclusively astringent or drying skincare treatments can exacerbate oil production.
Our sheet masks have all the benefits of a purifying charcoal sheet masks, but they include spinach and black tea for a double antioxidant boost. Why spinach, you say? Spinach contains one of the highest concentrations of the plant-based form of Vitamin A, known as beta-carotene.
Clinical studies have proven the benefits of Vitamin A for skin health. It helps protect the skin from the damaging effects of the sun, it deflects free radicals, and it has powerful anti-cancer properties. Not only that, but Vitamin A has anti-inflammatory benefits as well.
But wait, that’s not all. Black tea in our masks contains yet another form of antioxidants called polyphenols. You’ve probably heard about the benefits of super foods. What makes them so “super”? Polyphenols in plant-based foods are one of the micro-nutrients that put the super in super foods. This cardiologist will tell you why:
Had a bad night, or woke up feeling puffy? Hangover Hero is here to rescue your skin! Both charcoal and antioxidants fight inflammation, so you’ll be saying goodbye to puffy skin in no time. The hyaluronic acid in our detoxifying sheet mask will also deliver a big dose of moisture, so your skin will feel refreshed and plumped. Read more about hyaluronic acid in our article What’s in Your Sheet Mask? Learn Which Ingredients Matter.
Once you’ve removed your Hangover Hero mask, there’s no need to rinse your face afterward. Take a minute to rub the remaining serum into your skin for longer lasting effects.
Charcoal Cream Masks
Cream masks containing charcoal also aim to deliver detoxification and hydration. Cream masks tend to work best for those with dry skin, however. If you’re considering a cream mask, and you have oily or acne-prone skin, it’s best to consult a skincare professional to see if it’s right for you. On the other hand, for those who need the moisturizing benefits of a cream mask, but also want a detox mask for breakouts, this can be a good option.
Some charcoal cream masks:
- Boscia Charcoal Pore Pudding
- Origins Clear Improvement Charcoal Honey Mask
Charcoal and Clay Detoxifying Masks
Like charcoal, clays make effective detoxifying face masks. There are two primary types of clay used in face masks: bentonite clay and kaolin clay. They are sometimes combined with charcoal to make use of their different purifying properties for an even better detox mask. Just be aware that clay can be very drying, so you’ll need to be careful if you have dry skin.
Here are a couple of charcoal & clay mask options:
- L’Óreal Paris Skincare Pure-Clay Face Mask with Charcoal
- Clinique City Block Purifying Charcoal Clay Mask & Scrub
Charcoal Peel-Off Masks
Charcoal peel-off masks are popular for removing blackheads. They can be used as an all-over face mask, or a targeted treatment on your nose or t-zone. Buyer beware with this category of charcoal masks, however. Did you know that some charcoal peel-off masks contain glue? Yes, you read that right! Some peel-off masks can be very harmful to your skin, not to mention extremely painful to remove. A British facialist warns about the potential harm of charcoal peel-off masks here:
If you’re not deterred and want to try a peel-off mask to remove blackheads, make sure that you buy one from a reputable retailer and made by a reputable manufacturer. Here are a couple of popular brands with a lot of reviews online:
- Boscia Luminizing Black Charcoal Mask
- Yes to Tomatoes Charcoal Peeling Mask
Other BeautyGARDE Sheet Masks
Like the results from your BeautyGARDE Hangover Hero Charcoal No-Rinse Facial Sheet Masks? Give our Babyface No-Rinse Facial Sheet Masks a try, too!