You might have seen an activated charcoal product or two in the skincare aisle or online, most likely as some kind of mask. Perhaps you’ve even used one before. Private label skincare products containing activated charcoal are usually black or a dark grey in appearance, and typically marketed as being detoxifying. But what exactly is activated charcoal, and why is it something you would want to use in your skincare routine? What are the pros and cons (if any), and is it any different than using clay instead? Here’s the RSL breakdown:
Activated charcoal is made from either wood, bamboo or coconut shells (hint: we use the coconut variety). It is first heated at very high temperatures in order to char it, and then it is “activated” via steam. After that the activated charcoal is essentially washed a few times to remove any ash. The result is an activated charcoal product that is ready to use for either internal or topical use. We choose to use coconut activated charcoal because it is cleaner and more “pure” than regular charcoal based activated charcoal.
Similar to clay, activated charcoal has a natural drawing action that has made it a popular ingredient for private label skincare products that are designed to either and/or dry things out the way a clay would. This means you will mostly find it in products like masks and spot treatments, but it is actually a great ingredient for other types of skincare products as well. Basically anything designed to help keep the skin clean in one way or another (be that from the inside or just the surface) will benefit from having activated charcoal added to it. This means cleansers and scrubs with activated charcoal are great to use as well, and indeed more of these products are showing up in the private label skincare market.
So, if you are interested in using activated charcoal in your skincare routine, ask yourself what you want to accomplish with it. Do you want some simple and gentle clarifying action, a reliable source of overnight blemish busting power, or a weekly add on to help keep everything clear? For simple clarifying, try a cleanser, while a spot treatment and/or mask would be just the thing for both overnight blemish busting and once a week at home facials.