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Activated charcoal is an odorless black powder made from common charcoal that’s been exposed to heat. Heating the charcoal to a high temperature causes little pockets or holes to form, making it highly absorbent.
Research has shown that, due to its absorbent nature, activated charcoal can draw toxins from the body. For this reason, it’s commonly used to absorb toxins in the stomach to treat poisonings and drug overdoses.
Activated charcoal has also become a popular ingredient in beauty and skin care products. There isn’t much research to support the use of activated charcoal for skin health, but anecdotal evidence does seem to point to its effectiveness.
While you can buy charcoal masks, you can also make them at home. In this article we’ll look at the steps involved in making a DIY charcoal mask and several recipe variations you can try.
You’ll find activated charcoal in many personal care products, including cleansers, lotions, soaps, oils, and even toothpastes. It’s also become a popular ingredient for facial masks.
Although there is limited research into the skin benefits of activated charcoal, some skin care experts believe a charcoal mask can help your skin in the following ways:
- Removes impurities. Because research has shown that activated charcoal can absorb toxins in your body, some beauty experts believe that a charcoal face mask can help draw impurities and dirt from your skin.
- Reduces acne breakouts. An accumulation of sebum (skin oils) and bacteria can clog your pores, resulting in breakouts. If you’re looking for a natural acne remedy, activated charcoal may help by removing bacteria and other impurities from your pores.
- Controls oiliness. By removing dead skin cells and absorbing excess oil, activated charcoal may help give your skin a healthy glow without too much shine.
You can buy many types of charcoal masks online or at your local beauty store or drugstore. But some store-bought masks may contain ingredients and preservatives that don’t agree with your skin.
Instead of buying a charcoal mask, you can use some simple ingredients to make your own.
To get started, you’ll need a mixing bowl, measuring spoons, a towel, and the following ingredients:
- 2 tsp. water
- 1 tsp. bentonite clay (Buy some here.)
- 1 tsp. activated charcoal powder (Get it here.)
- 1/2 tsp. raw honey
- 1 drop essential oil (optional)
Making a charcoal mask can be a bit messy if you’re not careful. Because the charcoal powder can get blown around easily, it’s best to make the mask in an area away from any drafts or open windows.
You may also want to cover surfaces around you with towels to prevent the charcoal from staining anything.
To keep the mess to a minimum, consider buying activated charcoal capsules. You can open one capsule and add its contents to the face mask mixture rather than measuring out a teaspoon of powder.
Follow these steps to make your charcoal mask:
2. Add bentonite clay to water-oil mixture. Allow it to absorb for a few minutes.
3. Add activated charcoal powder and raw honey to the bowl. Combine all ingredients to form a paste.
If you’d prefer to use different ingredients, you can try one of these recipe variations:
Charcoal mask with apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp. bentonite clay
- 1 tsp. activated charcoal powder
- 1 tsp. organic raw apple cider vinegar
- 3 drops tea tree oil
Combine all ingredients in a bowl to form a paste. Add a few drops of water as needed to reach the desired consistency.
Charcoal mask with unflavored gelatin
- 1 tbsp. unflavored gelatin
- 1 tsp. activated charcoal powder
- 1/2 tsp. bentonite clay
- 2 tbsp. boiling water
Add gelatin, activated charcoal powder, and bentonite clay to a bowl. Pour in freshly boiled water. Combine all ingredients to form a paste.
For the best results, gently cleanse your face beforehand to remove dirt, oils, and makeup. Applying a mask over skin that hasn’t been freshly cleansed will trap dirt and impurities and prevent the mask from penetrating your skin.
Once your skin is clean, use your fingertips to spread the mask evenly and smoothly over your face. Gently massage it into your skin. You can also apply the mask using a small paintbrush or another soft-bristled brush. Keep the mask away from your eyes and mouth.
Allow the mask to dry for 15 minutes, and then rinse it off with warm water. Dry your face and apply your favorite moisturizer.
Even though activated charcoal is generally safe to use on your skin, there are a few safety precautions to keep in mind.
- Don’t overuse the mask. Once or twice a week is enough. Using it more often may dry out your skin.
- Be on the lookout for allergy symptoms. Signs of an allergic reaction or sensitivity include burning, itching, redness, or swelling after applying the mask to your skin. Stop using activated charcoal on your skin if you develop any of these symptoms.
- Keep the mask away from your eyes. Activated charcoal can scratch the surface of your eyes.
If you’re looking for a natural remedy to help give your skin a healthy glow, a DIY charcoal mask may be worth trying.
While there is little scientific evidence to support the skin benefits of activated charcoal, anecdotal evidence suggests it may help remove impurities, control breakouts, and reduce oiliness.
If you’re unsure whether activated charcoal is right for your skin, talk to your doctor or dermatologist before using it.