How charcoal is going to improve your skin

It’s the skin care buzzword that deserves the hype

Beauty Crew Editor / May 25 2017

While you’re more likely to associate charcoal with a Sunday barbeque than you are a comprehensive skin care routine, it’s fast become one of the most buzz-worthy and trending ingredients in the last couple of years – and for good reason. 

Beyond being a gimmick ingredient, it can actually have huge benefits for skin. 

“Activated charcoal works like a magnet to attract and readily adsorb* oils, pollutants, toxins and impurities from the skins surface. Charcoal can be used on so many skin conditions, including breakouts, congested skin, blackheads, sensitivity and treating the signs of ageing,” says Emma Hobson, Education Manager from Dermalogica and the International Dermal Institute. 

So why is it that it can help those skin concerns? Here are three reasons. 

#1 / Charcoal helps clear pores

Thanks to its ability to gently exfoliate and draw out impurities, charcoal can actually help keep pores clear and free from the dirt, grime and oil that can lead to blackheads, congestion, and breakouts. 

Try: Bioré Penetrating Charcoal Bar; frank body Creamy Face CleanserGlamglow Supermud™ Clearing Treatment

Bioré Pore Penetrating Charcoal Bar

Frank Body Creamy Face Cleanser

Glamgolow Supermud™ Clearing Treatment

#2 / Charcoal helps control oil production

Remember how activated charcoal can act like a magnet for oils? Well, that’s how it can help manage and balance your oil production, meaning that incorporating it into your daily skin care routine can help not only maintain shine, but a reduction in oil can help prevent pimples, blemishes and breakouts.

Try: Clinique City Block Purifying Charcoal Cleansing Gel; Sukin Anti-Pollution Facial Masque Oil Balancing Charcoal; philosophy total matteness pore-minimizing & mattifying cleanser + mask

Clinique City Block Purifying Charcoal Cleansing Gel

Sukin Anti-Pollution Facial Masque

philosophy total matteness pore-minimizing & mattifying cleanser + mask

TOP TIP: The benefits of charcoal extend to the skin on the rest of your body, too, so it’s worth trying The Body Shop Himalayan Charcoal Body Clay once a week to detoxify and refresh skin from top to toe.

#3 / Charcoal helps brighten skin

While detoxifying your skin can help reduce congestion and breakouts, it can also work wonders to improve skin radiance and brightness. “Its brightening and revitalising properties make it an ideal pick-me-up for any tired or lacklustre skin,” says Hobson.

Try: Estée Lauder Re-Nutiv Ultimate Diamond Revitalizing Mask Noir; Dermalogica Charcoal Rescue Mask; Saison Binchotan Facial Soap

Estee Lauder Re-Nutriv Ultimate Diamond Revitalizing Mask Noir

Dermalogica Charcoal Rescue Mask

Saison Binchotan Facial Soap

Fun fact: Despite it’s blackened colour, using charcoal is actual a great way to whiten your teeth. Try Lush Gunpowder Toothy Tabs for a chewable option, or give brushing with Keeko Oil Binchotan Charcoal Toothbrush a go.

* This is not a typo! Absorption is when something is taken into an object and disappears (like water into a sponge), where adsorption is when something gets stuck onto the surface of a medium or object.

Main image photography: Edward Urrutia

Carli was BEAUTYcrew’s Editor from launch in 2016 until May 2020. You can find her words right here on BEAUTYcrew, and previously on beautyheaven.