Is Charcoal skin care right for you?
Charcoal, heating up your BBQ and now the beauty industry! It has now made it's way into countless beauty products from drugstores to high end and Pinterest DIY. It is not a new ingredient and in fact, has been used in the medical industry for years. It has become a huge trend and in everything from face washes, facial masks and even hand soap. Sure it's a very interesting looking ingredient since it is jet black and who wouldn't want to try a new fun trend? But is it suitable for your skin type?
What is charcoal?
Activated charcoal is a form of carbon that is processed by reducing water and "activating" it with oxidizing gasses to increase absorption. So where does carbon come from exactly? Ash to simply put it. Typically in food grade activated charcoal certain substances are burned. Coconut shells, other nut woods, olive pits, sawdust and bamboo are some of the substances commonly used to make activated charcoal.
The many uses of charcoal
In medicine, charcoal is used to absorb toxins in the body. In fact, charcoal absorbs 100-200 times its weight in impurities! Whether from poison, too much alcohol, GI tract infections and used to treat gas and nausea. It may even be used topically to treat bug bites to draw out the poison from the skin.
Charcoal filters have long been used in air and water purification as well as the filter that is used in gas masks.
Charcoal in skin care
Specifically, if used topically in skin care it does the same thing. Charcoal will act as a magnet by purifying and deep cleansing pores. This is great for someone with oily and/or congested skin types that are trying to reduce and balance the oil production in their skin.
What if you have dry, sensitive, aging or combination skin? I am sorry to break the news to you, but I would NOT recommend charcoal products for these skin types. I know! I know! In theory, deep cleansing sounds like a good concept, but realistically how "dirty" do you think your skin is? The majority of skin I have seen in my years doing facials does not need such deep cleansing. It can be pretty aggressive and harsh. Plus, it's really far and few between and there are so much more gentle and beneficial ingredients to purify the skin if needed. Bentonite and pink kaolin clays are fantastic examples.
The reason I would not recommend this ingredient for these skin types is since charcoal is drawing out impurities as well as beneficial oil in the skin. you may become very dry and dehydrated after using a charcoal product. When the skin becomes dry or dehydrated irritation and redness can occur. The skin may try to overcompensate for the dryness by overproducing oil resulting in skin that feels tight because it lacks water, but shiny with oil. This imbalance may lead to break outs!
Acne and congested skin
If you do have combination skin or isolated congestion on your nose/chin areas you can totally spot treat by adding a charcoal mask to only those areas. Then you may want to use a hydrating or rejuvenating mask on the rest of your face.
The root cause of acne is not always the same in each person. Sure, sometimes it is that there is too much oil in the skin resulting in a clogged pore or pimple. However, there are many other causes such as hormones, stress, food allergies, physical catalysts such as dirty makeup brushes. So using something topical to dry out the skin that doesn't really even need drying out will not benefit it at all.
Trends can be really fun! However, not always suited for every skin type and can do more havoc than good. My advice to you is to do your research before jumping "face first" into a new beauty trend!