In recent times, activated charcoal has become a hotly trending ingredient in the beauty industry. You can find it included in facial cleansers, face masks, toothpastes, body scrubs, body butters, soaps (the list could go on). And activated charcoal is having a moment for a very good reason, it can bring a lot of really great benefits to the skin.
What is activated charcoal?
It might be a trendy beauty ingredient now, but activated charcoal is far from being a new product. In fact, it’s first thought to have been used all the way back in 3750 BC by ancient Egyptians (although not in peel off face masks). Over the years, it’s been used for medicinal purposes, for writing on papyrus, and even for water filtration.
Activated charcoal is a fine black, odorless powder. It’s sometimes also referred to as activated carbon. It’s made when charcoal is heated to a high temperature, then activated by heating it further with an oxidising gas or another chemical. This process increases the charcoal’s surface area and creates pores that are able to absorb toxins. Common natural ingredients used to make activated charcoal include nutshells, wood, peat, paper mill waste, and fruit pits.
Activated charcoal vs regular charcoal — what are the differences?
Activated charcoal and regular charcoal may seem pretty similar, but there are a few key differences between the two. Compared to regular charcoal, activated charcoal is more porous, has a larger surface area, and is purer.
Because activated charcoal is more porous and has a higher surface area, it’s a lot better at absorbing toxins and other nasties. Whilst regular charcoal is still absorbent, it doesn’t really compare to the capabilities of activated charcoal. Activated charcoal is much more effective, and impurity-free, hence it’s the preferred charcoal of choice in the health and beauty industries.
What can activated charcoal do for my skin?
Activated charcoal packs a powerful punch on a range of different skin issues:
Deeply cleansing: Activated charcoal is an especially great ingredient in soaps and cleansers. It acts as a toxin magnet, drawing dirt and impurities out from the skin. After cleansing with activated charcoal, your skin will be left squeaky clean.Reduces the appearance of pores: Pores are the tiny holes in your skin that release natural oils and sweat. If your pores aren’t cleaned properly, they can become blocked, causing blackheads and making them appear much larger than they truly are. Because activated charcoal draws dirt and impurities out from the skin, using it consistently can help to minimize the appearance of pores over time.
Reduces acne and inflammation: Acne is frequently caused by a buildup of oils, dead skin cells, and bacteria that become trapped inside the skin’s pores. Acne-causing bacteria not only trigger the eruption of pesky zits, but can also cause irritation, redness, swelling, and with it a fair bit of soreness. Activated charcoal has naturally antibacterial properties that can help to remove and kill off bacteria from the skin’s pores. Many people who suffer from acne benefit from incorporating activated charcoal into their daily skincare routine.
Combats excess oiliness: People with oily skin often rave about activated charcoal. This is because the charcoal’s pores are able to soak up all those extra oils on the face, leaving your skin well-balanced and shine-free.
A gentle physical exfoliant: Due to its granular structure, activated charcoal helps to remove dead skin cells, making the appearance of dark spots and marks less visible over time.
Anti-aging: It’s thought that activated charcoal might have powerful anti-aging properties. As we grow older, our bodies’ collagen levels diminish. Collagen is the main structural protein in the body, the one responsible for maintaining our skin’s youthful bounciness. As our collagen levels diminish, the skin begins to age much quicker (hello wrinkles!). However, activated charcoal may help to slow the skin’s aging process down, as it’s thought to help boost collagen production.
Kind on sensitive skin: Activated charcoal is a great ingredient for all skin types, including sensitive skin. Although activated charcoal has lots of powerful properties, it’s actually incredibly gentle on the skin. It’s also a natural ingredient, meaning it’s unlikely to cause any irritation, dryness, or rosacea flare ups.
Can be used to treat eczema and psoriasis: Because activated charcoal is gentle on the skin and naturally antibacterial, it has been known to help treat eczema and psoriasis.
Activated charcoal in facial cleansing soaps
Although you can find activated charcoal in a wide range of different skincare products, the easiest way to reap the rewards of activated charcoal is by incorporating an activated charcoal cleansing soap into your daily skincare routine. Because it’s nice and gentle on the skin, you can use it both morning and night. However, it’s important to note that some activated charcoal cleansing soaps are much better than others.
At KiteNest, we always recommend going natural. Whilst they might contain activated charcoal, non-natural products can also contain lots of nasties, such as parabens, palm oil, and harsh synthetic chemicals that can upset and irritate your skin. By contrast, natural activated charcoal soaps are packed full of lots of lovely ingredients, such hydrating oils, white kaolin clay, and essential oils. Any hydrating oils will work to leave your skin soft, smooth and hydrated, white kaolin clay will tighten up your pores and work with the charcoal to eliminate blemishes. Essential oils give the soap a delicate, natural fragrance.
Kinder to the planet
Swapping from your regular liquid cleanser to an activated charcoal soap is a simple way to show kindness to the planet. Not only are they free from environmentally damaging parabens, synthetic chemicals and palm oil, but they should also come plastic-free (cough, cough, like ours!). Soap bars can be easily packaged in paper or other biodegradable wrappers, helping you to reduce your plastic usage.
There are so many great benefits to allowing activated charcoal into your beauty routine. Whatever your skin type or concern, if you haven’t tried it already, we highly recommend that you give it a shot!