When you see a piece of charcoal, you probably don’t automatically think, “Man, I can’t wait to put that on my face.” But charcoal is actually a regular part of some beauty routines and it’s a trend that’s really taking off.
There’s such a thing as activated charcoal, which is formed when regular charcoal (yes, the stuff you grill with) is heated without oxygen, exposed to different chemicals (like nitrogen and argon), and is then finally exposed to oxygen and steam so that it becomes porous. Interestingly enough, this substance has been used for centuries (especially in Japan, India, and Egypt) to treat bug bites, acne, and gastrointestinal tract infections. It’s also used in hospitals to treat alcohol poisoning and drug overdoses. So, essentially, activated charcoal is magic.
The coolest thing about AC is that it’s able to generate an electrical attraction that allows it to absorb impurities and harmful substances. If you happen to have a Brita filter at home and you’ve noticed that there are some odd-looking, black specks inside your water dispenser, that’s charcoal! It’s used to make your water as fresh (and safe to drink) as can be.
When it comes to all things skin-related, activated charcoal is a miracle worker. “Charcoal is a powerhouse ingredient used for its cleaning power,” explains NYC dermatologist Dr. Sapna Westley. “It acts as a magnet to draw out and trap impurities.” The best part: It’s safe for all skin types, but people who experience breakouts are most likely to benefit from its magnetic powers.
To get your hands on some activated charcoal, you can purchase capsules filled with this material at your local health food store. Since AC is currently trending, you can also look out for it as a product ingredient at your favorite beauty store.
If you’re all about taking the DIY beauty route, no worries! We’ve got you covered.
If you want to reinvigorate your smile, open an AC capsule, add a bit of the substance to your toothpaste, and brush like normal. As you’re scrubbing your teeth, the charcoal will lift off plaque and other impurities, leaving you with a brighter, whiter smile. And don’t worry if you ingest some of it because activated charcoal is perfectly safe.
If your facial skin could use a pick-me-up, why not go for a face mask? Grab your AC capsules and some aloe vera. Mix equal parts of both ingredients in a cup. Add a few drops of water and mix once more. Before you apply this to your face, do a patch test below your jaw (just to make sure that your skin is on good terms with what you’ve created). Then, if there’s no bad reaction, you can apply the mask to your face, let it dry, and rinse it all off. Bonus: If you have acne-prone skin, add some acne-fighting tea tree oil (but not too much because it will sting)!
If you’ve recently run out of eyeliner and don’t have time to run out and grab a new one, you’re in luck! Mix some charcoal powder with a bit of water, apply it with your eyeliner brush, and ta-da! You have an eye look that would make Margot Tenenbaum jealous. Since activated charcoal is non-toxic (unlike the kind you buy for your grill) it should be safe to use around (not in) your eyes. (Once again, make sure to do a patch test on your jawline before applying it to your entire face!) It also easily comes off with water, so you should use a makeup-setting product after you apply it.
Alright, so it seems that activated charcoal is a good kind of black magic, which means that we are 100% on board with this trend if it can put our skin in a good mood.
[Image via Shutterstock.]