Why activated charcoal is the hottest natural beauty trend
Activated charcoal is carbon that has been treated to increase its absorbency. And although it isn't new in the land of health and beauty – it has been used for years to treat drug overdoses and poisoning because it latches on to toxins in the stomach and absorbs them before the bloodstream can – it has now become a way of bypassing conventional products for alternative beauty benefits.
In fact many people have latched on to ingesting charcoal as a powerful method of purifying the body, which means it can be simply excreted along with any nasty toxins, eliminating gas and bloating.
It works like this: the porous surface of activated charcoal has a negative electric charge that causes positively charged toxins and gas to bind to it. The process is called adsorption (rather than absorption), pulling everything to the surface without becoming one with it.
Activated charcoal in beauty products works in a similar way. The magnet-like properties attract dirt and oil in your pores, which you then rinse off. Deeply satisfying I might add, and a great way to cleanse, detoxify and re-energise your skin coming into the summer months.
These are the best ways to incorporate this natural remedy into your everyday beauty routine:
To filter water: Activated charcoal traps impurities in water like pesticides and chemicals and is used in water filtration systems the world over. The things it doesn't filter are viruses, bacteria and hard-water minerals.
To treat mossie bites: Mix one capsule of activated charcoal with half a tablespoon of coconut oil and dab it on the bite. This stuff stains so pop a Band-Aid on top.
To draw out blackheads: Biore does an intensely satisfying heat-up charcoal mask that won't dehydrate your skin while it draws out dirt and oil. The process also makes your pores smaller and cleaner to help prevent further breakouts. You can also use it with an exfoliator to scrub off any dry skin caused by the warmer weather.
To whiten teeth: If your teeth have become stained by coffee, tea, red wine or berries, try activated charcoal – it helps balance the pH in your mouth and boost whiteness by absorbing plaque and tiny food bits that can stain teeth. Remember to rinse well. Try this three times a week but steer clear if you have porcelain veneers because it may stain them, or if your teeth become sensitive. If you want an easier way to have activated charcoal in your teeth-brushing regime try Bamboo & Charcoal Toothbrushes. The bristles are infused with it so can help with bad breath and prevent bacteria building up on the brush.
To remove make-up: Try Boscia Charcoal Makeup Melter Cleansing Oil-Balm This has two types of activated charcoal, bamboo and Japanese Binchotan powder, to remove even ground-in make-up that you have slept in, as well as impossible-to-get-off waterproof mascara.
To target blackheads: Try Blaq Mask. It even has its own Instagram account. Spread it over your nose, let it dry and then peel it away along with your blackheads.
To wash your face: Erno Laszlo Sea Mud Deep Cleansing Bar is the chic-est black soap ever: it cleanses and exfoliates in one.
To wash hands Babe Charcoal Hand Wash is a black, sudsy hand soap that is a blend of activated charcoal, grapefruit and rosemary. It does the work and smells divine, too.