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Charcoal in Skincare

Updated: Jun 2, 2023

Charcoal has become a popular ingredient for skincare products to include when targeting excess oil or impurities. Read more...
 

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charcoal skincare

Photo: Wix

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What is charcoal?

Activated charcoal used in products and in medicine is made by heating substances rich in carbon such as wood, sawdust, coconut shells, etc. This is an interesting process because it allows the carbon to become more adsorbent. Adsorbent means that it can bind more molecules. In medicine activated charcoal has been used to treat overdoses and poisonings as it can adsorb these toxins quickly. It has been used in wound healing in addition to a number of other uses.




Is charcoal an effective ingredient in skincare?



Charcoal has become a popular ingredient for products to include when targeting excess oil or impurities. Although I could not find a single medical study to show the effectiveness of charcoal in treating scalps directly, I can find potential benefits to using products that contain it.



 

Charcoal in Skincare

 


Is charcoal safe to use on the skin?



Charcoal applied to the skin is overall harmless and is not likely to irritate the skin. The theory behind adding it to products is that it may possibly absorb extra oil from the skin. If you have found a benefit in treating your scalp with charcoal-containing topicals then it is perfectly ok to continue. It would likely be best for people that have an oily scalp. It is a milder alternative to help reduce the oiliness without excessively drying the skin or hair.




What are charcoal gloves?



Clay or charcoal is usually added to help draw excess oil or sebum away from the skin. Black soap is a product that overall is found to assist with exfoliation when used. However, the ‘recipe’ or ingredients that comprise ‘black soap’ can vary widely.

When used in the form of a glove, the goal is to gain both chemical exfoliation from the charcoal and black soap as well as mechanical exfoliation from the glove itself. For the purposes of acne, these gloves can assist in reducing oil and sebum buildup that contributes to breakouts.


For eczema, there can be variable success based on how sensitive the skin may be. It is best to try a test area first to avoid excess irritation. In those that see success, the role of inflammation in eczema triggered by bacterial overgrowth in the skin may be improved by these products as there can be an antimicrobial or anti-inflammatory effect.



Charcoal in Skincare


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