6 Reasons To Use Activated Charcoal To Cleanse Your Skin
Walking down the skincare aisle at the supermarket you are likely to come across at least a few detoxifying skincare products, and activated charcoal is often the key ingredient featured in many of them. But can it really help detox your skin?
Activated charcoal is a fine black powder with a variety of health and skin benefits due to its ability to attract toxins, chemicals, and gas. And since our bodies are unable to absorb charcoal, this means that it is safely eliminated along with everything bound to it through the feces.
Charcoal is obtained from materials rich in carbon such as coconut shells, coal, bamboo, or wood. It is then activated by subjecting it to high temperatures and oxidizing gases. This forms small pores within the charcoal which give it the power to absorb various substances it comes in contact with (similar to a sponge).
The use of charcoal dates back to as early as 1550 BC in Egypt for medicinal purposes. However, its use was somewhat forgotten about due to the lack of knowledge for how it worked. So while charcoal has a long history of use, the activated form that we use today was re-discovered only a century ago.
Health Benefits of Activated Charcoal
Activated charcoal is a safe and universal natural remedy to treat drug overdoses and poisonings. When administered orally, it prevents drugs and toxins from being absorbed by the gastrointestinal tract.
Studies show that a single dose of activated charcoal taken within 5 minutes of drug ingestion can lower the rate of absorption by almost 74%. Activated charcoal is also said to help reduce alcohol concentration. So you may want to keep some pills handy in case you find yourself having one too many drinks.
Activated charcoal is also helpful in treating a condition called cholestasis, which some women experience during late pregnancy. It is caused by increased bile acid levels, and results in itchy skin and liver problems. One study found that oral administration of activated charcoal significantly lowered total serum bile acid concentration.
If all of the previously mentioned benefits aren’t exciting enough, then surely you will find this next benefit appealing. Since activated charcoal is capable of absorbing various gases, it is also capable of improving symptoms of bloating and flatulence. Abdominal bloating is very common and extremely uncomfortable, so anything known to provide some relief is a definite blessing. One research study done on American and Indian participants found that hydrogen breath levels were significantly decreased along with symptoms associated with bloating and intestinal gas.
Other health benefits of activated charcoal include:
- Treating Lyme disease
- Decreasing nausea & diarrhea
- Reducing bad cholesterol levels
- Purifying drinking water
- Teeth whitening
- Detoxification of heavy metals & mold
Note: It is crucial to drink plenty of water while ingesting activated charcoal. Without enough fluid to move everything through your system, you could end up with constipation and the reabsorption of the nasty toxins you were trying to get rid of. Also, keep in mind that activated charcoal can absorb your medications and supplements as well, so it must be taken at least 2 hours away from these items
Benefits Of Using Activated Charcoal For Your Skin.
The skincare market is flooded with activated charcoal facemasks, soaps, cleansers and anti-pollution skincare kits. Currently minimal research has been conducted on the benefits of using activated charcoal on the skin. However, there is a good amount of research out there that studies the negative effects of pollution on skin health, and the overall mechanism of action of activated charcoal. As a result, it is reasonable to conclude that activated charcoal may provide the following benefits when used in a skincare routine.
1. Deep Cleansing & Detoxification
Research shows that many of the pollutants found in the air are so small that they can easily get stuck in your pores and pulled into deeper layers of the skin. Since activated charcoal acts like a magnet, it can draw these impurities and toxins to the surface. The highly porous nature of activated charcoal allows it absorb over 1000 times its own weight in unwanted particles. This will leave your skin feeling clean and detoxified.
2. Treats Acne & Balances Oily Skin
Acne is caused by a buildup of sebum and bacteria in the pores of your skin, so activated charcoal can benefit acne-prone skin by inhibiting bacterial growth as well as absorbing excess sebum that may be clogging your pores. Over time, its purifying and pore-cleansing effect will help reduce large pores and balance sebum production in your skin.
3. Reduces Signs of Aging
It has been shown that exposure to pollution increases the signs of aging. This is primarily due to the reduction in healthy antioxidants in the skin (vitamin C & E) after exposure to oxidative stress. When the skin can’t properly defend itself from oxidative damage, the result is an increase in dark age spots and fine lines. Since activated charcoal is able to absorb the free radicals that would cause this damage, it may help prevent it.
4. Reduces Inflammation
Research also shows that continued exposure to pollutants activates certain cellular responses that increase the inflammatory process. As a result, individuals who live in areas with higher levels of pollution are more likely to experience dermatitis, redness, and irritation. Using activated charcoal to cleanse the skin of these inflammation causing toxins will help eliminate these problems.
5. Softens Skin
Activated charcoal powder has the perfect amount of grittiness without being too abrasive making it a good exfoliant for your skin. It will help slough away dead skin cells and unwanted debris leaving you with smoother, brighter skin.
6. Reduces Body Odor
When combined with baking soda, activated charcoal can help reduce body odor caused by extensive skin shedding, microbial imbalances, detoxing, and sweating. So try it out as a natural deodorizer to reduce unwanted smelly armpits and feet.
How To Use Activated Charcoal on Your Skin.
The best way to utilize the benefits of activated charcoal for your skin woes is by preparing a DIY face mask with it. Activated charcoal powder is available in a tablet as well as loose form.
To prepare this mask, you will need the following ingredients:
- ½ tsp activated charcoal powder
- 1 tsp bentonite clay
- 1 tsp chamomile tea
- 3 drops of peppermint essential oil
Brew yourself an 8 oz cup of chamomile tea and allow it to cool. Once cool, mix all 4 ingredients in a clean, non-metal bowl and a non-metal spoon. Apply it evenly on your face. Allow the face mask to sit on your skin for 10-15 minutes so it can absorb all excess dirt, oil, and impurities. Rinse it off with water and follow it up with a toner and moisturizer.
Note: If you have dry skin, swap out bentonite clay with the gentler kaolin clay to avoid drying out your skin.
Can It Be Used Every Day?
This DIY activated charcoal face mask is best used once a week as a deep-cleansing ritual to detox your skin. If you prefer to include the detoxing benefits of activate charcoal in your daily skincare regime, try our gentle Activated Charcoal & Jojoba Beads Face Wash.
Are There Any Side Effects?
Activated charcoal is an inert substance, so the chances of irritation or allergic reaction are slim to none. Frequent use of a potent charcoal mask can lead to excess dryness, but this is easily avoided by using them less often. When using activated charcoal it is always best to find an organic option. This way you can feel confident that you are not exposing yourself to any unwanted chemicals.
With pollution and other environmental toxins on the rise, we can no longer experience optimal health without taking some extra precautions. However, mother nature has been gracious enough to provide us with all the tools we need to protect ourselves. Activated charcoal is one of those wonderful tools. And what is even better is the fact that it is easily attainable and affordable too.